The month of January has mainly consisted of various parenting lessons and life experiences, quite a few of which I’d rather have lived without. It has certainly exposed the best and possibly the worst side of my parenting skills to date and I feel at the moment that Mother of the Year award really could go either way. However, it prompted me to think a little more about the stuff you don’t think about before you chuck your last pill packet away and decide to start a family. The thing is, most of it you couldn’t possibly know beforehand and even if someone told you, you would never listen. So here it is, for all those potential mothers out there – a list of the stuff you should try to remember but will forget and/or ignore about 5 minutes after you finish reading it. To those who are already on the dark side – did I miss anything?
1. Childbirth is not the difficult bit.
2. If you gain 4 stone while you are pregnant it is not ‘all baby’. It is mostly cake, and it will take you a very long time to lose it.
3. You will not sleep a full night again. And that’s not for the next 6 weeks, or 6 months, its possibly FOREVER, because by the time your little one is 13 and refusing to come out of their room until lunch has been and gone, you will be so used to lack of shut eye that the ability to sleep will have faded along with your hopes and dreams of losing that 4 stone.
4. No-one, absolutely no-one, thinks your kid is cute when you are sitting next to them a) on a plane or b) in a restaurant that doesn’t have clowns, balloons or face painting.
5. The amount of time and effort placed into food preparation for your little one is directly in proportion to the amount they will hate it.
6. Drinking is the answer. Getting drunk is not. Rolling into the office a bit late and spending the day downing coffee, advil and junk food is a walk in the park in comparison to dealing with a toddler on 4 hours sleep and a hangover from hell.
7. When your child falls ill or something goes wrong for them you will feel so sick with worry and the love for them will pour out so hard that you can barely believe you had a beating heart before. Three days later you will revert back to playing ‘mummy word bingo’ and seeing how many times you can say ‘no’, ‘please pick it up’, ‘don’t touch that’ and ‘hurry up we’re late’ before you resort to silent screaming and copious eye rolling.
8. Juicy Couture tracksuits are not just for Paris Hilton. They, along with a decent baseball cap and a pair of large sunglasses, are an essential investment that allow you to go virtually anywhere without looking like you didn’t have time to shower/do your hair/apply make up before you left the house. However, you might want to rethink losing that 4 stone before wrapping your behind in brightly coloured velour.
9. Talk through parenting styles before your baby is born. It will give you time to adjust to your new role as ‘mean mummy’ and you won’t spend the rest of your life wishing that you fought harder to be ‘good cop’.
10. If you think something is wrong with your child, take them to a doctor. Google is not a doctor. Neither are you, your husband, or your mother.
11. Whatever ‘it’ may be: It doesn’t matter how many times you think you’ve nailed it, there will always be another mum who does it better.
12. Giving birth does not automatically qualify you to bake prizewinning cakes or sew couture fancy dress outfits but everyone will expect you to do both to competition level within three to five years.
13. Going back to work is not the easy option.
14. Staying at home is not the easy option.
15. You will think you are a terrible parent at least once a week for the next 20 years. Sometimes you may have a point.