There will be people out there who say “All I want to be when I’m older is a mum. That’s what I want to be.” and there are others who will say “Nu-uh. I don’t do kids. I’m never going to be a mum!” Believe it or not, I used to be one of the latter. I never had a soft spot for that child who smiled sweetly at you, or who would offer you a half eaten lolly pop. I was adamant I would never have children; and here we are 9 years later and I’ve got 3.
Parenting isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, and no amount of reading up on it will ever really prepare you for the rollercoaster ride. I say rollercoaster ride because that’s exactly what it feels like; you’re strapped in and there’s no getting off. You have the ups and downs, and sometimes you feel like your life is completely upside-down and you’re completely out of your depth. And then once the ride stops, you get off and say “wow. Lets do that again!” We don’t always enjoy being a parent, I’ve yet to find someone who has a fabulous day, every day, 365 days of the year. Because let’s face it…our children can be dicks.
Here’s my list of Things they don’t tell you about being a parent.
- A lay in. ha! What’s a lay in? Gone are the days of lazily rolling out of bed at 11am, you’re now up, dressed and ready for the day by 7.30am most days. A lay in is now anything past 7am.
- Sleep in general... You never truly appreciate what tiredness is until you have kids. In the early months you’re lucky if you can get 2 solid hours together, and if you’re unfortunate like me, you have to wait almost a whole year before your little one goes through the night. – Even now I’m still getting up! I pray the end is in sight…It’s pretty amazing how much you can do when you’re running on 30 minutes sleep and have a house, baby, job and life to keep on running! (Mombie is definitely the correct term here.)
- How much they eat. If your child is anything like my William, they will eat you out of pocket before they’re 3. Although, we’ve taken a step back with this for now – I’m sure it’s just a phase, we’ll see how the teen years go…
- How much they cost. ^ and not just food wise (but they cost a lot to feed and water.) You’ve got to buy clothes every 3 months, nappies, wipes, furniture (cot/changer table), bottles, sterilisers, dummies, toys, and when they get older it’s clubs and activities, school uniform, school trips, more expensive toys (e.g. consoles and tablets.) And in between all that there’s school holidays, family weekends, birthdays, Christmas…my head is spinning.
- How much they poo. I’m not sure how my partner has winged this, but I’m pretty confident to say he’s probably only changed 10 dirty nappies in Williams life, and quite possibly none for Rubeon…Somehow it’s always fallen upon “mummys turn” to do the stinkys. hmm…
- How much they cry. “I’m tired” – cry. “I’m hungry..” – cry. “I hurt myself” – cry. “I didn’t get my own way!” – cry. “I can’t get through the tiny gap” – cry. “You gave me the wrong cup!” – cry. You get the point…they cry. a lot.
- The stares people give you when your child is having a tantrum in public, and you just let them ride it out. I had this once at the local library where we’d gone for Rhyme Time. I felt the stares and judgement people were giving me, all because William was howling at the fact I wouldn’t let him walk out of the front doors. Jeez, I’m such a bad mum. But one time, I let him ride it out in Sainbury’s, and one of their colleagues offered to help me finish my shopping! So it’s not all negative.
- The judgement from other parents at how you raise your children. Seriously. This one really grinds my gears. So what if I decided to wean my child at 4 months instead of 6? So what if I let him use a dummy to soothe his outburst? So what if I want my child to go to nursery at 2? So what if I rock him to sleep? So what if we’re still co-sleeping? Stop trying to nit-pick at how I’m doing things, it’s my child and I’ll do what I think is right. (within reason.)
- How messy they really are. To an extent, we kind of understand that kids are messy. But wow. This messy?! I wish someone suggested a tarpaulin or a sheet to put under the high chair a long time ago! Don’t even get me started on the amount of times I’ve had to wipe their pooey feet during a nappy change. And let’s not even go there with even thinking of a showroom house. You can bet you will stand on/trip over toys at least 3 times a day, and you’ll be lucky if you can put the washing away, let alone dust! (Do people still dust?)
- Leaving the house. No one told me I had to have military experience to do this one. Everything now is on a schedule, shoes and coats on by 8am, baby in pushchair by 8.05am, lock the door at 8.07am, walk to school by 8.30am. (This is what I aim for… but in reality, of course, it doesn’t always go to plan.) Not only getting ready, but also making sure your baby bag is stocked with nappies, wipes, snacks, spare clothes/socks, bottles, milk, juice, toys, purse and anything else that needs to go in! Is the rain cover under the pushchair? Have you got enough layers on everyone to keep warm? Does Lily have her school bag and packed lunch? Was there homework due in today? Is there anything you’ve forgotten? – Probably, but it’s too late now you’re out of the door.
- Understanding them. I had no concept of kids learning to talk. I suppose I assumed they went from “goo goo gaga” to “Hello my name is Becky!” Guess I missed out the few years in between where no one can understand a blinking word they’re saying. For a while you can get away with saying “oh, really?!” or “oh, okay.” and palm them off, but as their vocabulary increases, you’ve gotta start trying to work out what they’re actually trying to say. I’ve been caught off guard and said “oh yeah!” to something William has asked to do…I don’t recommend doing this. It didn’t end well for me. But rest assured, I have been told it ‘just clicks’ and they’ll make sense eventually…
- The “Parent Voice” you acquire. We all get it. Our voices deepen to a low and ‘I mean business’ tone. I don’t know how many times I crack this on a daily basis. Sometimes it comes out more as a whimpering plea rather than a “do as you’re bloody well told!” tone, but other times I even scare myself. Just do as you’re told the first time Kid!
- The love. Now, I know this should go without saying, but I wasn’t prepared to feel this kind of love. An all-encompassing-it-almost-hurts kind of love. The love of willing to put your life on the line for them. (unless it’s at 3am then it’s every man for himself…) Watching them achieve something, or learn something new, or when they come and give you a hug for no reason.
What would you add to the list? I’m sure it’s endless, because no matter what you know about parenting, You don’t know sod all until you’re in the thick of it. You can read all the books you like on parenting, but it won’t prepare you for the reality of it all!
So, good luck to you parents-to-be, and a salute to those who have surpassed this and lived to tell the tale. If you’re in this position now, I feel for you, I really do. You’ve got this!