Quite often, our child-free discussions with friends about parenting veer off into one of two directions — either the “you-wouldn’t-believe-this-breeder-I-had-to-deal-with-yesterday” style rant, or the “thank-God-that-isn’t-me-we-just-went-to-the-theater-and-discovered-this-great-Ethiopian-restaurant-want-to-go-hiking-this-weekend?” celebration. But occasionally, they blend seamlessly together into a bit of no-kidding poetry. This was one of those occasions.
I had gotten together for dinner with a group of pals who had all chosen a lifestyle sans enfants, like mine. One couple mentioned that his sister had just had a baby — and all they heard from this woman (every morning, on the phone, like clockwork) was how hard motherhood was, how exhausted she was all the time, how they were going broke on formula and Pampers and doctor bills. She complained about how long it took her to get out of the house after packing 16 different diaper bags, loading the stroller into the back, and figuring out all the straps on the car seat. She talked about how she never had any time to herself — and when she did find a free second, she was too brain-dead to be able to enjoy it (I believe this babe’s “me time” each evening was conking out on the couch while watching the nightly news.) And this was all with the help of a loving husband and part-time nanny! Our friends said she had always bugged them about when they were starting a family — they joked that she was certainly doing a hell of a job selling them on parenthood now!
That led us to compare the experiences of our more encumbered cohorts (other friends, family members, colleagues) and their constant griping about child-rearing with our general sense of satisfaction with our paths in life. It seemed that for every “breeder-bitch,” there was a correspondingly attractive benefit to NOT having kids. The whole thing sort of turned into a game — we were trying to see how many parental unpleasantries we could flip on their heads and turn into positive attributes of voluntarily childlessness. Believe me, this was not hard at all (even after a few glasses of wine!) — because, at least to us, there’s nothing about living your life free of offspring-baggage, free of the mess and expense and constant aggravation, that doesn’t make the no-kidding way seem much, much more attractive. Eventually, I decided to turn our conversation into this “child-free alphabet.” You can sing along if you like (it’s written in a weird Seuss-ical “rhyme-with-a-parenthetical-rant” style.) How do you think this would go over as a kid’s book?
It’s hard to have something to important say when you’re busy telling little people to “stop” or “behave” or “go play” (tends to limit your communication skills over time.)
But no kidders are free to converse — about literature, art, film, philosophy, travel, finance, politics, religion, gender equality, social change — and the origins of the universe!
Having kids is expensive, you see — everything about them (childbirth, diapers, baby food, school supplies, toys, fixing the things they break, car insurance, the latest fashions, movie tickets, college tuition, and regular handouts for the rest of your life) costs lots of money.
But those who choose to forgo, find that in the end they have a lot more dough (and we love looking at the possibility for an earlier retirement!)
Kids leave a trail wherever they go (of tracked-in mud, spilled fingerpaint, dirty laundry, broken toys, unflushed toilets, crusty cereal bowls, and 6-week-old burritos growing hair under the bed) — and no matter how fast she cleans up the piles, the “mom-machine” is just too slow.
But going child-free means a lot less mess, which leads to a reduction in domestic stress.
Feeding children means changing your taste (it also means learning to love Happy Meals, avoiding nice restaurants, and forgetting that “ethnic” food even exists until your picky eater grows up and moves away) — those cooking classes are going to waste!
But folks without kids can eat whatever (and whenever and wherever) they please — no worries about which wine goes with chicken fingers or mac and cheese!
Poor moms and dads at the end of the day (so worn out running after their kids that they can barely order a pizza and sack out on the couch in front of the tube) — no energy left to play.
But the child-free folks are ready for fun — as darkness falls (whether it’s an art walk, party, festival, or concert), we’re always on the run.
Children tie you down, limiting your options in life (such as where you live, how you work, what you buy, how much spare time you have) — to my way of thinking, kids equal strife!
But child-free folks are free to do what they will (live in a cool neighborhood without regard to school district, take or leave any job, travel, write the great American novel) — a life fulfilled.
Personal growth requires space for reflection (it’s hard to discover your passion or even organize your closets when you’ve got a crying baby) — no room in parenthood for perfection!
But the unencumbered are free to grow, to be all they can be and learn all they can know (wow, I am turning into a demented version of Dr. Seuss!)
For hobbies to be fun, you need time and energy to spend (all in short supply once children come into the picture) — unfortunately, procreation tends to bring those “art-gardening-reading-hiking-fixing-up-old-cars” days to an end.
Those without kids have evenings and weekends free — plenty of time for a hobby or two or three (actually, it’s more like 27, in my case!)
When you always seem to have kids in your hair, you forget to show your love how much you care (and it’s hard to set the mood when your breasts are leaking and you have spit-up on your shirt!)
But child-free folks can get intimate any time, anywhere — in the bedroom, on the sofa, in the kitchen, on the stairs (no kids, no limits!)
Moms and dads always claim to be truly happy (content with their choice, no hard feelings, no regrets or resentments about having had children) — and that’s as it should be.
So why such snotty parental retorts (when those of us without have the time and money and freedom to enjoy our life in our own way)? Sounds a bit like jealousy, I say with a snort!
You can tell houses with kids by the clutter in the yard (a lot of faded and moldering plastic is always a tell-tale sign) — keeping a home aesthetically-pleasing becomes increasingly hard.
But the voluntarily childless can actually have landscaping — yard-art, tiki torches, and flowers, with no junky-looking chain-link fence to keep kids from escaping!
Try reasoning with a child and you’ll quickly go insane — all you want is quiet rather than having to use your brain (my parent-friends regularly abandon logic in favor of silence!)
But the child-free can engage in critical thought — preferring a valid, defensible proposition to one which is fallacy-fraught (and also understanding that “because I said so” may get your kids to behave, but it’s not a sound argument!)
Children require a lot of “stuff” (they always seem to want more, and their demands change from year to year) — trying to find a home for all of their “accessories” can be tough!
But those without kids can get by on less — just look at us (our home is smaller than 200 square feet and clutter-free) and you’ll see that the simple life is best!
One of the first things parents give up is time with friends after dark (the excuse is always that they can’t find a reliable babysitter) — to those of us who enjoy an evening out, it seems that reproduction puts your social life permanently in “park.”
But child-free folks can hang with their buds any time they like — as long as those pals aren’t parents themselves, who have to rush home by 9:00 at night!
Parents are so focused on family (you can’t converse for 5 seconds before it turns to potty training and daycare!) — it would be nice to talk about something other than “baby.”
But the child-free are good at conversing with other peeps (asking questions about their lives, showing actual interest in the answer) — a conversation that’s a two-way street.
Kids and animals together is often the worst (watching a toddler pull a cat’s tail just makes me want to pinch that child!) — and the pet ends up getting the short stick, even if he was there first.
But a child-free home is a pet-friendly place — our cats live a peaceful existence, with no house apes taking up their space (or tying a balloon to their tails or dressing them in humiliating outfits or putting tinfoil on their feet.)
If you prize silence as a parent, you’re S.O.L — even one child in temper-tantrum mode can turn a quiet afternoon into hell (my new favorite baby shower gift is a pair of earplugs!)
But the child-free life is different, you can actually hear yourself think — you aren’t constantly telling someone to settle down and shut up, then looking for a strong drink!
When you have a child in the house, your schedule is quickly blown (thanks to 2 AM feedings, unexpected birthday parties, last minute dioramas, and an endless series of soccer practices) — your time is not your own.
But its easy to plan a structured day, when you have no small screaming kids to get in the way!
When you have a family to support, it’s easy to get trapped (stuck at a job you hate just for a “steady” paycheck) — you feel demoralized, wondering why you put up with this crap.
But without kids, starting a business seems less risky and you’re free to explore — making use of your talents, taking charge of your life, and demanding a whole lot more!
Travel is harder with rugrats in tow (everything becomes exponentially more expensive and complicated as the number of kids increases) — once you reproduce, it’s easier not to go.
But those without kids are free to roam (without worrying about car seats or Cheerios) — in fact, we like travel so much that we chose a rolling RV of a home!
A parenting life is full of constraints (no spare time for this, no extra money for that, no energy left for this other thing) — and it would certainly follow, full of complaints.
But a child-free life can head wherever you want to go — no external limits or boundaries (aside from the ones you create for yourself, but that’s your own fault), no one else to tell you “no.”
We all like to give back but parents are often stuck, focusing their free time on school and sports and extracurricular activities — non-kid groups are out of luck.
But those without can look at larger charity (issues like poverty, the environment, animal welfare, and domestic violence) — creating a better world for you and me (and your child!)
Children are known to bring home disease (then give the illness to the rest of the family) — making everyone in the vicinity hack and cough and wheeze
But the child-free stay healthier and here’s the real kick — without children I’m not as exposed to germs and I rarely ever get sick.
It’s been proven in study after study that parents are more prone to depression (just check the science journals) — you’d think after all this time, folks would learn a lesson!
But those without kids have been shown to be, more contented with life and generally more happy (they’re also usually more satisfied with work and marriage — gee, I wonder why?)
Mid-life creeps up faster when you have a child — you have to be responsible all the time, you seem to get frumpy quicker, and there’s no room for acting wild.
But the child-free are able to retain a sense of youth — they can have fun without being a bad influence (that’s why we make the best crazy “aunts” and “uncles”), I swear it’s the truth!
So many parents I know are living in a rut (work, come home, make dinner, put the kids to bed, watch TV, go to sleep, start over again the next day) — the door to the days when they really enjoyed life seems permanently shut.
But my child-free friends are still going at it full bore, living with gusto, sucking the marrow, and planning to continue that way for ever more!Click here for reuse options!
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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.
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