Turning 40 feels so different than when I turned 30. I’ve been looking forward to my 40th birthday but this week it seems like it’s barreling toward me like a freight train. I’m not quite ready to turn the corner and say goodbye to my 30s.
25 Things I Learned Before My 40th birthday
If you waited to get married and have kids like me then in your 20s you could mostly do what you wanted when you wanted. You could go out dancing all night and sleep all the next day. You ate grilled cheese every night for dinner if you wanted to! When I was in my mid-twenties, I lived in a tiny apartment on a hill with my kitty. It was so small inside it is more like a tiny house than an apartment. It was probably around 300 square feet, but I loved this apartment.
In this apartment, I found myself. I spent so much time alone and I loved it. In the warm evenings, I could sit out on the porch and read until the sky was dark and crickets were chirping. I exercised every evening out around my hilly neighborhood. I walked to pick up take out. I ate grilled cheese when I only had money to feed my cat. When I was living in this tiny apartment, feeling so comfortable with myself and my life, I met my husband. It was an instantaneous feeling like my life had changed.
When I turned 30, it seems like life got a lot more serious. Mostly awesome things happened like buying our first house and welcoming three kids into the world and starting my own business. There were some events that devastated me as well, like when I witnessed both of my parents pass away within 9 months of each other. In my 30s I had a lot more responsibility, but I learned a lot.
Here are some of the very important lessons I learned before my 40th birthday:
- You don’t have to go out on Friday night
- You need to travel a lot before you have kids, because afterward it will be much harder to have the same experiences as you would if you were single. I took my first child to Paris when she was 15 months old, but traipsing around Paris with a stroller did not compare to exploring an island off Taiwan on a scooter bike.
- Be kind to your family so you have a good support network and pass that on to your kids.
- Do yoga. Don’t assume it’s just for other people. Try it. Love it.
- Trust your instincts – 9 times out of 10 your instincts will lead you down the right path.
- Purchase a few key pieces of quality clothing instead of a sea of cheap, trendy clothes that fall apart in the wash.
- Never ask if a woman is pregnant, no matter how much she looks like she is.
I am embarrassed to say I have done this before and I can tell you I felt AWFUL afterward. I knew I shouldn’t ask but I did anyway. I should have trusted my instincts!
- Learn to cook so you don’t have to serve your kids hot dogs and ravioli in rotation. Also learn to cook to be healthy. I am fairly sure my parents unhealthy eating habits led them to their illnesses.
- Always have coffee on hand so you don’t find yourself getting multiple kids ready for the day in a fog of pre-coffee derangement. Trust me, it’s not pretty.
- You don’t always have to be fashionable. Your family and friends won’t think different of you if you wear sweats and sneakers.
- Don’t waste time folding clothes that are not meant to be folded. Footie jammies and baby clothes are ridiculous to fold. Also underwear. Just don’t do it.
- Nobody will ever ever tell the truth about the pain of natural childbirth. And I won’t either.
- You will never feel as tired as you do when you have newborn.
- Don’t wake a sleeping baby. Or you will have to spend another 2 hours trying to get the baby to sleep and that means less sleep for you. Or eating. Or anything else you imagined doing.
- Listen to people when they are talking and remember what they told you.
- The people you grew up with will always have a special place in your heart – even if you never see them.
- Don’t take things personally – it’s rarely actually about you.
- Don’t wait for the right time to do anything. You will be waiting forever.
- Hold the door for others, especially people with strollers.
- Real friends don’t care if you have a sink full of dishes and answer the door wearing a muumuu. Some may actually encourage it by sending a muumuu for a gift.
- When you buy your first house imagine living there with kids – whether you are ready or not. If you decide to move after kids you will find it hard to leave the town you have settled in.
- Baby brain IS real.
- When you borrow something, return it (sorry Beth G. I still have One Hundred Years of Solitude, and no, I never got around to reading it).
- Know that after you give birth your body will never, ever look the same. And it’s okay.
- And please, spend as much time with your parents and siblings as you can, because you never know when you will lose them. Thankfully, this is one lesson I already knew since I lost my parents way too soon.