The stress, the sleepless nights, the bickering and the lack of spending money. How on earth can anyone say having kids is good for your health?
While all of the above is very true, there are also a lot of great things that kids do for you, apart from just being very cute and occasionally saying they love you.
1. All that walking
Taking 10,000 steps at least five times a week can give your health a real boost.
People who exercise regularly are at less risk of developing all kinds of nasties, such as heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes.
There’s no greater motivation for getting outside and taking a stroll regularly than having a baby.
Lots of newborns prefer to take their naps in the pram in the early months. And some parents can feel a lot more sane if they get some fresh air after a long, hard night.
Then when your child has grown out of this phase, toddlers and small children love nothing more than exploring the outdoors, so they really are a brilliant motivation for getting fit.
2. Eating healthier meals
We’re such hypocrites when it comes to our children’s diet. We want them to eat the best and healthiest of meals, but we just want to scoff down a Mars bar and a pizza.
However as your child becomes aware of all those hidden treats in the kitchen, the only way to stop them snacking on sugary things is to eradicate them from your home completely.
It’s bad news for your cravings, but good news for your waistline.
3. Weight lifting
Regularly picking up and putting down your child is a great workout for your arms, core and back, provided you are lifting properly by bending your knees.
4. The laughter
They say laughter is the best medicine. This is more than just a cute catchphrase to stitch on to a cushion.
Laughing can dull pain, increases blood flow and improves our own sense of wellbeing. Laughter releases endorphins, the happy hormone, and reduces the presence of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
So next time you discover your kid smearing their chocolate pudding on the television, try to see the funny side.
5. Cancer fighting
Studies have shown that women who breastfeed for at least six months cut their likelihood of being diagnosed with breast cancer by up to a fifth.
Some studies have shown the benefits are more substantial for mums who have their kids under 30.
6. Brain training
The sound of “why” being asked again and again is annoying, there’s no doubt about that.
But kids are constantly challenging you, making you think about things and getting you to help with their maths homework. All of these things engage your brain, which is what it needs to stay sharp.
7. Fewer hangovers
Coping with children while hungover is not fun. At all.
It can make days seem like they last forever. The answer? Don’t drink as much.
Livers across the country rejoice every time a child is born.
8. Learning to value sleep
When you’ve done a year or two, or even more if you’re really unlucky, of seriously broken sleep you come to value a proper night’s kip.
You can’t understand sleep deprivation until you’ve been through it. It feels like you’re asleep all of the time, except that you’re not and you’re so desperate to get some more shut eye you would give away your left arm for it.
When you finally emerge from this sleep nightmare, you appreciate the sleep you manage to get so much more. That first morning you wake up and see the time is 7.30am and you haven’t woken up at all in the night is a happy, happy moment.
As a result you don’t take sleep for granted, and so you make the effort to get a decent night as often as possible.
9. Keeping you sane
Wait, wait, before I lose your attention as you roll your eyes and start to move your finger to the little “x” at the top of this page, hear me out.
A study by the Taiwan Mental Health Foundation found of 1,084 elderly people interviewed, those with no children scored 6.4 points lower on a mental health questionnaire than those with children.
Yes they might drive you utterly round the bend, but they’re great for your mental health in the long run. Honest.
10. A longer life
Scientists have found that parenthood prolongs life by up to two years by keeping your faculties healthier for longer.
Researchers tracked the lifespan of 704,481 men and 725,290 women from the age of 60 onwards.
The study, which ran until the end of 2014, also gathered data on whether the participants were married, how many children they had and whether they had boys or girls.
The researchers took several factors into account, such as education levels.
But the results showed the risks of death was lower among those who had at least one child, compared to those who were childless.
Do you think having children brings health benefits? Do you live a healthier lifestyle since having children? I would love to hear your thoughts.