I know lots of people who are due to have babies soon. Many for the second time, but some are going to be first time parents and it got me thinking about the sort of stuff I’d like to have been prepared for.
I mean, I knew about the sleepless nights, the dirty nappies and the constant feeding, but I had no idea what to expect further down the line. If I had then I might have felt more, well…prepared.
So aside from the sleep routines, the weaning and the potty training (which go by in such a blur, you’ll wonder if they ever actually happened) here’s the bits of advice I wish people had shared so that I felt a little more prepared for parenting. (And as with my stance on all advice, take whatever works for you and leave the rest exactly where you found it!)
1. Learn to lead by example. Children do not respond well to the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ parenting technique. So if you want them to behave in a certain way you must behave how you want them to. This means that you should start thinking now, ‘Do I want my child to do this?’ when you’re thinking about eating biscuits for breakfast.
And believe me they’ll start copying far earlier than you think. There was a fine example of this in our house when Lil Man was around 12 months old. The dog started humping her bed and of course, he copied!
2. Drop your standards. This is especially important if you have the slightest hint of OCD about your house, car, or anything really. Babies are generally quite clean (it doesn’t seem like it at the time, but trust me on this). Once your child can move and hold food at the same time, you are done for. As are your carpets. And your sofa.
If you must buy any furniture, chairs etc. from this point onwards. Make sure they are wipe clean!
In fact, start from now. If you can learn to live with breadsticks mushed into your car upholstery, banana stains on your carpets (and yes, they stain, terribly) and pen all over your wall then you’ll be well set for the toddler years.
3. Learn to stop swearing! You are on live children watch. Do not swear. I repeat. DO NOT SWEAR!
You cannot utter a swear word with 100 yards of a toddler without them hearing your entire sentence, disregarding all harmless words, picking out any swear words & repeating them continuously. Muttering under your breath will not even prevent this from happening. Children come equipped with supersonic hearing!
If swearing is something you cannot live without then try replacing all swear words with random words and use them from now on. This is a habit that is hard to break. Even if your child hasn’t even seen the light of day yet, start now. It may take you from now until toddlerdom to crack it. I wish I’d started much earlier!!
4. Be careful what you think. Children are attuned to your thoughts and the minute you think something along the lines of ‘ahhh quiet, I’ll just sit down for 5 minutes’ or ‘time for sleep’ they WILL hear your thoughts and piddle all over your parade!
5. Get used to having no privacy. At ALL. Bathroom locks are no match for a toddler. They can’t wipe their own bums yet, but they can unlock a bathroom door from the outside in 2 seconds flat. And if they can’t? Well, they’ll just tantrum their way in!
6. Get ready to think on your feet. You WILL need the art of quick thinking more than ever before. You’ll be asked questions awkward questions such as, ‘Muuummmmmy. How did I pop out of you?’ at the supermarket checkout and other equally embarrassing places.
7. Learn good distraction techniques. ‘Ooh look an alien!’
8. Learn how to spot a tantrum at 50 paces. If this is successful you may be able to apply number 7 and potentially prevent said tantrum from materialising.
However, some tantrums are inevitable. It is impossible to reason with, or distract a toddler who has decided it is imperative that the dog, yes the DOG, must get her dressed.
9. Get used to not sitting down. The only time your child will ask you to do something that requires getting up is the minute your bum hits that seat. If you must sit down, then at all costs, DO NOT look the slightest bit comfortable!
10. Build up your stomach muscles. There will come a time when your child no longer sleeps in a cot and will be able to sneak into your room at any time. If your child believes it’s time to get up this may result in frequent body slams or karate chops until you submit.
Be warned. If the first attempts are unsuccessful, they will be followed by said child attempting to prise your eyes open with razor sharp nails.
I reckon I could go on for much longer, but I won’t.
Because, even if I’d known all this beforehand, it wouldn’t have changed my mind. I was adamant we were having children. Once that biological clock started ticking nothing would quieten it. It doesn’t even have a snooze button!
Plus, I started reflecting on this a bit more last night. I had started thinking that this post felt a little, unfinished, and the comment from Steph at Seeing Spots prompted some more cog turning.
Even despite all this ‘advice’ I would never say to anyone ‘don’t have kids, it’s horrendous!’ It isn’t. At all.
It’s the best thing hubby and I have ever ever done!
Yes, I might have to sneak off to the loo like a silent assassin just so I don’t have to answer eleventy hundred questions while I have a wee.
Yes, I might sometimes end up catching sick in my hands. It’s the grossest thing ever, but if you become a parent I guarantee it’ll happen at least once!
But you know, although it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, it’s also the most worthwhile and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Nothing beats those early morning sleepy snuggles (as long as it’s past 6am!)
Nothing beats your little one telling you they love you totally unprompted.
Nothing beats seeing them learn new things and that heart melt when you see them be kind and lovely to others.
You don’t even need to be that funny to make them laugh. Crossed eyes have mine rolling round the floor in fits of giggles. (Well, Lil Miss anyway. Lil man is slightly harder to impress!)
And if you have more than one, nothing beats that feeling when you catch them playing nicely together or helping one another, chatting, smiling, giggling and even plotting your downfall. Those glimpses where you can see the bond they have, that attachment and how much they love each other, they’re priceless!
And moments like these you can put on your smug face, stand back, and think, ‘you know, I’m alright at this. I’m doing a good job!’