While nothing can fully prepare you for the chaos and exhaustion that is working motherhood, many seemingly unrelated experiences from your past can actually ease the transition to this oh-so-special phase of existence. Those mean girls from the high-school cafeteria? They were just younger versions of the PTA moms you'll encounter. College all-nighters? How else would you know before your baby arrives that you're capable of getting work done on no sleep? For the days (and evenings) you're feeling ill-prepared to handle all that your professional and family lives are hurling at you, refer to this list for a reminder that you've been there, done that.
1. Building a crib.
If you’re one of those couples who flawlessly hands over the screwdriver before the other even asks for it, congrats, parenthood will be a cinch. If you aren’t, well … remember what building the crib was like? Think that, but every day.
2. Shopping at Ikea.
How strong is your relationship? How do you handle crowds? Indecision? Mistakes? These are important issues to navigate before going to Ikea, and coincidentally, before having children.
3. Colleagues who throw tantrums.
All those demanding managers ("I need it now!"), oversharing coworkers ("You won’t believe what just happened in the bathroom …") and passive-aggressive emailers ("As I stated before ... ") were actually just practice for having a threenager.
4. Wedding planning.
Birthday parties are a breeze once you've found appropriately positioned seats for divorced relatives and hired entertainment that can play your mother-in-law's obscure choice for her dance with her son.
5. Buying a home.
The process is needlessly complicated, much like filling out post-delivery hospital paperwork and registering for daycare.
6. Open enrollment for health insurance at work.
The choices get more complex and expensive once a child enters the picture, so at least you'll have experience thinking of all the possible reasons you might wind up in the hospital over the next calendar year.
You become adept a calculating exactly how much time you need to arrive, from locking your door to sitting down at your desk, which is crucial so you can grimace at the exact second a tantruming toddler makes you late before work.
8. Being glued to your cellphone.
Such extreme attachment comes in handy when daycare can (and will) call at any time.
9. Dropping something outside and having to chase after it as the wind has its way with it.
Just what it's like to run after little kids who do not want to get in the car in the morning. Coincidentally, it’s also what going after promotions can feel like.
10. Sitting through commercials in the pre-Netflix days.
That kind of patience serves working moms well when their preschoolers tell them "really important" stories that make no sense and seem to have no end, and also when work superiors do the same.
11. Chugging drinks.
It's precisely the rate at which you need to consume beverages, and food for that matter, whenever you’re home with your needy little beings. It also makes you appreciate the leisurely pace at which you can sip your coffee at work.
12. Pulling all-nighters.
Speaking of good decisions you made in college, yeah, the ability to function on no sleep is a skill on which working moms rely.
13. Taking five classes at a time while holding down a work-study gig, playing intramural volleyball, working on a thesis, touring with your a cappella group, mentoring a high schooler and applying for post-college jobs.
Working parenthood is as much of a juggle/struggle every day, but instead of you having fun, it’s your kids.
14. Troubleshooting your electronic devices' problems.
Kids won’t wait for the Apple Genius Bar to get back to them when their tablet won’t turn on.
15. Getting paper cuts at work.
Kids accidentally, and not so accidentally, injure you in surprisingly painful, but not life-threatening, ways every damn day of their lives.
16. Blizzards or hurricanes that force you to stay inside for several days in a row.
That's maternity leave in a nutshell.
17. Making plans with friends and never following through.
It’s the equivalent of politely telling another busy working parent “Let’s do lunch!” because you know that ain’t ever gonna happen.
18. High-school drama.
Oh, you thought you left it all behind, did you? Turns out high-school cliques have nothing on PTA-mom cliques. Thank goodness you learned just to roll your eyes at it all back then.
19. Getting mono your freshman year of college.
You’re an old pro at fighting through overwhelming exhaustion.
20. Getting negative feedback at work.
You're going to hear “Jane can't keep her hands to herself” and “Jackson needs more practice with algebra” throughout your children’s school career. Good thing you know how to fake-smile when processing criticism and not take it too personally.
This story originally appeared in Working Mother.