101 Things You Don’t Need to Sacrifice When You Have Kids
Being a modern parent means saying “yes” when the only response used to be “but…” or “no.”
Having kids doesn’t put your personal journey on hold. It makes it more intentional.
Here are 101 things you don’t have to give up just because you became a parent.
There are so many more things to add. What do you keep on your list?
1 | Amazing Coffee.
2 | Sex.
Parenting doesn’t mean giving up spontaneity or intimacy. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Check out Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex and Parenthood.
3 | Slang.
4 | Jeans that don’t make your butt look ugly.
Denim interventions for moms and dads everywhere.
5 | Sleep.
I fully admit to lying on the bathroom tile weeping in the middle of the day when my daughter was five-weeks-old and had woken me up round the clock every 90 minutes to poop or nurse.
But this is a temporary situation. Thanks to Dr. Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, I’ve managed to parent and sleep well most of the time since my daughter was an infant. If there’s one book you must read before giving birth, this is it. Too late? Read the science-backed Ultimate Guide for Parents Who Desperately Need Sleep for other quick tips.
6 | Sleeping in.
No, you’re not going to sleep in every day. But you CAN sleep in at least once or twice a week. Our daughter has learned to dress, get her breakfast, and entertain herself weekend mornings since she was three-years-old thanks to Parenting on Track.
7 | Sarcasm.
8 | Listening to good music.
You don’t have to sacrifice listening to your favorite bands when you have kids. Toss out the KidzBop and ROCKABYE BABY! Do you want to raise kids with good or shitty taste in music? Go ahead and throw on your David Bowie or Neil Young album, anything but singing chipmunks.
9 | Counseling.
If you need it, make the time for it. Angela Arsenault explains why Couples Therapy Will Make You Better Parents.
10 | Sexy high heels.
My five-foot self stands by this.
11 | Self-care.
You’re not doing yourself, your relationship or your kids any favors if you don’t take care of yourself too.
12 | A great car.
You don’t need a minivan. You don’t. Here are nine family cars for moms and dads who still love driving.
13 | Friendships with people who don’t have kids
14 | Listening to rap music or hip-hop in the car.
Okay, so maybe you’re not going to blast any NWA or 2 Live Crew song without screening. But it’s totally doable. Start with curated hip hop songs for kids, Rap Clean Enough for Kids: Top 10 Kid-friendly Artists and Albums, or Clean Hip-Hop Music by Common Sense Media.
15 | Ordering and eating wings like a fool.
16 | Camping.
Glamping makes it easier than ever for parents to camp with their kids. Take some advice from Why I Unapologetically Love Car Camping.
17 | Spontaneity.
Routines work for kids, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up every once in awhile. Launch an unexpected indoor snowball fight with all the rolls of toilet paper stocked in the hall closet on your family. Serve ice cream for dinner on a warm summer night. Surprise your partner with a babysitter and a date, tickets to a show, or a mini-getaway. Changing it up makes for lifelong memories.
18 | Naps.
19 | Alone time.
20 | Dating as a single parent.
Apps and online dating make it easier than ever for single parents to prioritize and date in a way that works for them and their kids. I was able to remain the center of my daughter’s world and date for four years as a single mom. If you’re seeking some advice, dating coach and single mom Laurel House has great tips for moms and Men’s Health provides ten research-based tips for single dads.
21 | Being immature sometimes.
This is why we have kids people. It gives us an excuse.
22 | Dinner parties.
Hire one or two babysitters to entertain and feed the kids in one area of the house, while parents enjoy a meal in peace in the other. Every parent pitches in to cover the cost.
23 | Dancing.
24 | Road trips.
Learn what to pack for food while on the road or why you might want to buy a VW Westfalia and hit the road with your family.
25 | Flying & Travel.
Take advantage of those free flights while your kids are ages 0–2. Screw all the dirty looks. Kids are human beings too. Nowadays more airports sport kid spaces for layovers and kid-friendly foods. Here are50 Ways to Entertain a Kid on an Airplane.
These two parents traveled around the world twice with their young kids. Not saying you have to aim for that, but it’s never been easier to travel — with or without kids.
26 | Nice furniture.
Yes, you can. Not only that, but a lot of modern kid furniture is pretty stylish too.
27 | Eating Healthy.
My favorite go-to site for healthy recipes is Eating Well. Check out Five Fast Go-to Favorite Recipes, Breakfast Tips for Real-life Weekday Mornings, and The Fail-safe Dinner Solution Your Whole Family Will Love too. Lifehacker curates the five best meal planning apps.
28 | Skateboarding.
Do you want to be the parent who sits on the sidelines? Or do you want to be the parent who shreds and has fun too? Read about how skateboarding helps develop a growth mindset in kids and grownups.
29 | Taking risks.
If you want your kids to take risks, you need to take them too.
30 | Pranks.
I’m not a prankster. My partner is. He’s taught my daughter the art of pranking too. I’m outnumbered. It makes life fun. Here are some April Fool’s Day Pranks to Play on Your Kids and April Fool’s Day Prank for Kids to Play on Grownups.
31 | Red lipstick.
32 | Changing careers.
I know the fear of changing careers with kids, the fear of losing healthcare and disrupting your family’s life. Don’t get trapped in a job you hate if you have the power to change it. You’ll be a happier, better parent for it. If you don’t settle for less than you deserve, your kids won’t too.
33 | Lingerie.
34 | Reality TV.
If this is your guilty pleasure, there are some great family-friendly reality shows out there. We watch Master Chef Junior and The Amazing Race with our kid. It IS possible to watch kid-friendly reality TV and learn some valuable lessons at the same time.
35 | Guys’ Night Out.
36 | Girls’ Night Out.
37 | Fine Art Museums.
Kids are no longer isolated in one spot in the museum. These days many museums have spots for families to rest and play in multiple galleries and floors. Here are tips for looking at art with your kids.
38 | Rock climbing.
It’s not just for grown-ups. There are many places that cater to kids and families too.
39 | Being a rock star.
There’s a reason why there are so many interviews with musicians on Parent Co. Check out interviews on parenting with Guster’s Ryan Miller, punk pioneer Bobby Hackney from A Band Called Death, Bobby Hackney Jr. from Rough Francis, songwriter Laura Veirs, singer-songwriter Shannon Hawley, musician and farmer Chris Dorman, and Kurt Vile. Have I made my point yet?
40 | Video games.
41 | Putting your relationship first.
The common narrative is put your kids first. Put your relationship first. You will be a stronger team, better parents, and you’ll teach your kids what a healthy relationship looks like. Read more from Psychology Today.
42 | Feeling sexy.
43 | Dinners out.
I’m talking screen-free meals people! Restaurants without kid menus and nuggests! If you start when your kids are young, they will learn early how to behave and engage with others in a restaurant.
44 | Concerts.
Music is a big part of our family’s life. Many cities and towns have outdoor concerts perfect for testing the waters with kids. But don’t forget to feed your adult needs too. We plan an annual kid-free trip to Osheaga in Montreal. It’s three days where we can binge on music and dance like fools like we did in our 20s.
45 | Skinny dipping.
46 | Learning new things.
There’s nothing I hate more than hearing parents say, “I wish I did _________________when I was younger.” Take a drum or ballet lesson. Learn to surf. It’s not too late. Take a class and meet new people, or take a class online.
47 | Creative time.
Every Sunday morning, we have the option of uninterrupted, creative time as a family. My partner and I model taking creative time with our daughter. It’s fostered a love of creating and making in her as well. Read 9 Ways Busy Parents Can Reignite a Creative Practice and 3 Women Share How Their Creative Work Evolved with Motherhood.
48 | Living in the city.
49 | Snowboarding or skiing.
Every Saturday for eight weeks, we join ten other families at one of our local resorts. Some of us ski. Some of us ride. Our kids all take lessons. It’s the perfect balance of alone time with your partner, socializing with friends, and taking runs with your kids. It makes winter more bearable. Check out How to Ski with Kids and the Top 5 Ski Resorts for Families.
50 | Volunteering.
There’s always time to give back, and there are opportunities to work together as a family too. Volunteermatch.org matches volunteers with organizations if you’re looking for a place to start.
51 | Junk food.
52 | Reading.
Here’s a suggestion for how to read 50 books per year.
A subscription to the blinkist allows you to get the condensed version of nonfiction books. Start modeling reading with your kids early, and set up a routine for silent reading time. Some families do this after dinner or on a weekend morning.
It’s good for kids to “read” books even when they can’t read words. Boston University Medical Center has great suggestions for reading with kids ages 0–3. Start the habit when kids are young, and you’ll get to binge on your favorite reads too.
53 | Audiobooks.
These days you can access hundreds of audiobooks at most local libraries using the OverDrive app. Books not appropriate for little ears can be listened to on wireless headphones while working out, doing yard work or cleaning. Audible is another solid source to find audio books and earn free credits for more.
54 | Podcasts.
We also use wireless headphones to listen to podcasts with adult content all the time while doing chores or cleaning. Kids can listen to podcasts too. BrainsOn! episodes provide new learning for kids and adults. 99% Invisible will make you see the world from a different perspective, and some episodes are kid-friendly. Some recent ones we’ve listen to with our kid are Inflatable Men, The Color of Money, There is a Light that Never Goes Out, and Edge of Your Seat. Mystery Show is another podcast that’s great for curious kids and grownups. Kotter and Belt Buckle are kid-friendly.
55 | Alcohol.
56 | Exercise.
Playing with your kids often doubles as healthy exercise. Ellyn Ferriter shares 5 Kid-Friendly Winter Activities that Double as a Workout. Fitness Blender has great free online workouts you can do at home when the time’s convenient for you. I swear by Barre3 workouts online workouts that are $10 a month. Even as a single mom, I invested in a gym membership with a daycare. It was a great way for me to get some alone time and de-stress a few days a week.
Now I commute two hours a day to work at a full-time job, so I often have to get my fitness in when I can. I eat while working at my desk and take a walk in lieu of a sit-down lunch. I workout at home a lot — don’t stay stationary while watching TV much anymore. Even 10–15 minutes a day is better than nothing. Try it.
57 | Going to the movies.
58 | Dyeing your hair.
It’s not just for rock stars like Gwen Stefani. Pink. Blue. Fire-engine red. Go for it.
59 | Waxing.
60 | Staying up on the news and current events.
Next Draft from Dave Pell is a great curated news source for busy modern parents. Skimfeed is made for the uber nerd parent. Another spot to grab news is twitter. You can quickly scroll through headlines on media feeds and click on topics you want to read more about.
61 | Keeping up with politics.
62 | Social Media.
It doesn’t have to be a timesuck. Sometimes it’s a timesaver. You can connect and keep up with friends and family faster and access the news and current events efficiently and quickly.
63 | Tropical vacations.
64 | Going topless.
Isn’t that the point of tropical vacations? Here the the 50 Top (less) Beaches and Pools in the World.
65 | Getting your nails done.
66 | Flirting.
It’s healthy to flirt with your partner and show affection in front of your kids. If your kids say “ew”, talk about it directly with them. Let them know it’s good you hold hands, hug, snuggle, and kiss. The alternative could mean you’re not getting along or not close. That usually nips their “ew’s” in the bud. Model a healthy relationship.
67 | Fighting.
The same is true of arguing. Couples argue. It’s healthy and normal. As long as you know how to disagree in a healthy, respectful way — it’s not going to damage your kids. It’s helpful for kids to see their parents work disagreements out and make up. 9 Ways for Arguing in Front of Your Kids provides science-based advice from experts in the field.
68 | Comic books.
69 | Moving.
70 | Fashion.
71 | Weed.
A total of 23 states have legalized marijuana use in some form. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington allow recreational use of marijuana.
72 | TV.
73 | Education.
These days low-residency and online programs make it easier to continue your college or graduate education. You don’t have to give up that dream of earning your M.F.A. in Writing, going to law school, or becoming a teacher. It might take you longer, but it’s doable.
74 | Dreams.
75 | Hiking.
Throw on a baby carrier, and hike when your kids are infants. Start young. The Wilderness Society also gives 10 Tips to Make Hiking Fun for the Whole Family.
76 | Becoming an excellent home cook.
Get Cal Peternell’s new cookbook, “Twelve Recipes.” It’s a smart cookbook written for new cooks, for uncertain cooks, for good cooks looking for simple inspiration.
77 | Yoga.
Pregnant? Baby? Toddler? Kids? There may be a yoga class nearby for you. If not, there are plenty online.
78 | Meditation.
Free Meditation offers online resources for meditation and mindfulness of all ages.
79 | Saving money.
80 | Sleeping in the dark.
81 | Stupid YouTube videos.
There are family-friendly sites out there that curate YouTube and Vimeo videos for you. Try Today Box.
82 | Comedy and Jokes.
Clean jokes and comedian exist. Try Brian Regan or Jim Gaffigan. Read this interview about fatherhood with Greg Fitzsimmons.
83 | Talking about race.
Don’t avoid talking about race with your kids or answering tough questions. If you don’t talk to your kids about race, you’re sending them the message that it’s not okay to talk about it. If you need guidance, try How White Parents Should Talk to Their Kids About Race or How to Talk About Race with Your Kids.
84 | Talking about sex.
When your kids start asking you questions about sex, they’re ready to talk about it. Stick to the facts, and use proper terms like penis, vagina, and vulva. Read Preparing to Talk to Your Kids About Sex. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, studies show 78% of teenagers need more information about sexuality and that young people rate their parents as their top resources for learning about sex.
85 | Cycling.
The Center for Cycling Education has compiled a great set of resources on cycling with kids.
86 | Crying.
It’s okay for dads and moms to cry in front of their kids sometimes. It makes you human and let’s them know it’s okay for them to cry too. If you’re watching a movie that makes you tear up, go ahead. It shows you’re empathetic and compassionate. It’s normal and healthy to be sad sometimes.
87 | Enjoying spooky stories.
Tell spooky age-appropriate stories around the campfire. Demystify the scary. See 25 Halloween Movies Every Kid Should See, Sorted by Age.
88 | Making mistakes.
It’s healthy for your kids to see you make mistakes and learn from them. Everyone does. It’s human nature. Own up to your mistakes, make it right, and move forward. You will teach your kids perseverance, humility, and a growth mindset.
89 | Sporting events.
I’ve taken my kid to high school soccer, basketball, field hockey, and football games since she was two-years-old. We’ve also taken her to Red Sox games and watch live sports with her on TV sometimes. She loves to learn the rules, follow the scores, and all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it. It’s a great way to have some meaningful discussions about sportsmanship and endurance too.
90 | Donating money.
It’s good for your kids to see you donate money for causes whether they be for charities or politics. Have kids pitch in with their allowance too.
91 | Getting a tattoo.
92 | Playing sports.
It’s not just about kids playing anymore. Parents play too. Kickball, hockey, baseball, soccer — you name it.
93 | Talking about death.
This is an important one. You don’t need to shield your kids from death, and certainly don’t tell your kids a person or pet “moved on”, “passed away”, or was “called home.” Kids can’t think in abstract terms. They need concrete facts. Tell them directly that the person or pet died and will not be living anymore. If you know death is imminent, be honest with them so they have time to say their goodbye’s. Funerals are a part of life, and visits to the cemetery demystify death. I taught over 1,000 kids in my teaching career. Relatives die. Neighbors die. Teachers die. Kids need space to talk about death when it happens. It’s up to parents to provide that support and space. Read Rest in Peace: Saying Goodbye to an Old Semi-beloved Pet and Coping with Death of a Family Dog, and Mama, she’s in your heart now. It’s ok.
94 | Using proper terms for anatomy.
Penis. Vagina. Vulva. These are the words you need to be using with your kids. Ditch the winky and hoohaa.
95 | Playing hooky.
96 | Costumes.
What better way to share the fun of make-believe with your kids than playing dress up with your kids, getting into the Halloween spirit or costume parties? We keep a plastic tub filled with costumes in our daughter’s closet. She loves it.
97 | Skydiving.
Only eight in a million skydiving jumps result in a fatality. You have a better chance of dying getting in your car every day.
98 | Staying current with technology.
Parent, meet The Verge. The Verge, help a parent stay current and up-to-date on the latest tech trends.
99 | Having a clutter-free home.
Sure, Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up doesn’t talk about what to do with your kid’s artwork, toys, and all that baby gear crap. That’s why we tested it out and broke down ways to declutter with kids. Parental minimalists and neat freaks rejoice!
100 | Developing a killer app or mobile game.
Donald Rumsfeld of all people did it at 83. So can you.
101 | Swearing.
It can be tricky to express our full range of adult emotions — especially as we navigate the eternal shitshow that is parenting — without incorporating expletives.
Originally published at www.parent.co on January 26, 2016.