Ah, the pre-child smugness we all feel when we cast our innocent eyes and judgement over parents going about their day, silently thinking ‘I’d never do that with my children’.
I loved that time of ignorant bliss before I had my own children when I was able to imagine my life full of home cooked meals, simple family fun, social days out and the thought that having a baby won’t change who I am as a person.
Do those thoughts sounds familiar to you? Are you waiting to start your journey into parenthood with a hopeful mindset and full of expectations?
I hope so, and I hope you enjoy every minute of it. I loved that time before I had children and I could submerge myself into my perfect little future world. Looking back I wish I had enjoyed my dreamlike scenario a lot more often, as soon this ‘perfect future world’ kind of imploded.
My top 5
Here are my top 5 things I said I would never do with my children.
1) I will not let my children change me as a person, I’ll still be fun, sociable and feel the same way about things as I do now.
This was the biggest life adjustment I had to make when my first-born came along, and it was by far the hardest challenge I faced as I stepped into parenthood.
I was 35 years old and I had lived an independent, ‘do what I want’ kind of life. Enjoying holidays, nights out with friends, days going where I wanted and generally enjoying life. Then Wham! Overnight I became what I can only describe as a slave to my baby. It was like an atom bomb had gone off inside my little bubble and it came as a total unexpected shock.
I could barely find the time or the inclination to wash my own face, let alone be the fun sociable person I used to be.
I had a beautiful little baby to look after 24/7 and his needs were ever demanding. He came first and I came last simple as that, and that shift in my life was a huge adjustment that took time to get my head around.
I had a newborn baby so I couldn’t do things as freely as I used to, but I didn’t want to either. I wanted to be there for every moment in my gorgeous new babies life.
I totally changed as a person; I had to because it wasn’t just me to think about. I was a mother and I had a child and that child would be number one in my life until the day I die so yes it was silly of me to think I wouldn’t change as a person because in that moment everything changed.
2) I won’t be indoors all the time, I will take my baby to all the classes I can find and be really sociable with all the other mums and have a wail of a time.
I had planned it all in my head that as soon as baby was old enough we would be off to baby yoga, baby massage and baby swim classes right from the word go. However, my imagined glorious routines slowly changed into something more like –
Get out of bed
Look after Baby
Go back to bed
My first attempt at a baby massage class was a disaster; it didn’t start well when at the beginning my little cherub decided to do a massive poo when everyone was introducing themselves and their children. It was a total poonami situation and seriously code brown.
I’m sure the other mums were probably just sat there thinking ‘thank god that’s not me’ but in my head I was feeling judgy eyes all around me.
We got through the poomageddon incident to then move onto the ‘shrieking banshee’. All the other mums and babies are in a totally zen state and really getting into the panpipe music when for some reason my baby just kicks off.
I think he wanted ‘Metallica’ on or something, so started getting whingy and irritable, descending into full on banshee mode. The instructor was really kind and all the mums looked at me with ‘we feel for you’ faces but I still felt like I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
At the end of the class when the instructor told us mums to give our babies a drink, out came all the boobs and the contented babies latched on, and there I was the only mum who was bottle feeding feeling like an utter failure thinking I should have stayed at home and watched Loose Women!
3) I will not be feeding my baby any food that comes from a jar and I will not give him sweets.
Flicking through all my Annabel Karmel books picking lots of different recipes and spending hours cooking kumquat, avocado and organic chicken curry only for it to be literally thrown back in my face, spat up all over the highchair and dining room floor, then sicked up over my chest 10 minutes later. I thought b*gger this! I’m getting the 70p jars from Tesco’s instead of spending half my life cooking fresh cod and salmon quinoa balls.
I soon realised that if I could maximize the time my gorgeous little one would sit in a highchair, I could actually get some ‘stuff’ done like vacuum, wash up, put a laundry load on and clean sick off the sofa.
So out came the chocolate buttons that I swore I would never give my child until he was at least 10. Those little round circles of bribery allowed me some much needed time to whizz around the room performing all my mundane tasks before baby insisted on getting down and demanding to be entertained by mummy until the next meal time.
4) I will not let my children watch telly, I will be outside in the garden or at the park climbing trees and being a ‘mum that does cool things’ with her kids
So it’s 9am and I want a poo, for god’s sake sit and watch Mr Tumble for 5 minutes so I can go and relax my sphincter without a small child sitting on my lap.
It’s 11am and I want to hide in the kitchen alone to stuff a small child’s packet of HARIBO Starmix down my throat to get a sugar hit energy boost, so please sit and watch The Twirlywoos just for 5 minutes.
It’s 2pm and I am dying to read that old school friends rant on Facebook about the woman who just told her in Aldi that she should learn to control her children so please sit and watch Mr Maker for just 5 minutes.
Sometimes you just want 5 minutes to yourself and that is okay. I learned that the telly was not always the devil; it could also be my friend. Plus it didn’t do me any harm watching ‘Thundercats’ ‘Trapdoor’ and ‘Fraggle Rock’ when I was a child.
5) I will not allow my child to have a tablet and sit for hours staring at mindless YouTube videos
Baby number 2 has arrived…. ‘Oh bloody hell where is that tablet?’
‘No darling, it is not okay to try and hit your little brother in the face with a sippy cup’. Pass the tablet to distract him while I look after baby.
‘No darling, mummy doesn’t want you to drag your little brother around the floor by his feet’. Pass the tablet to distract him from playing wheelbarrows with his baby sibling.
‘No darling, baby doesn’t want to eat your Batman Lego figure’. Pass the tablet to distract him when I am trying to bottle-feed.
A tablet was a great help to me when my second little baby came along. It is natural for your first born to be interested in their brother or sister and basically want to brush their hair with a shoe while you are feeding them.
The tablet was fantastic, it had so many educational things on it and it really helped him with his numbers and colours. Although the endless videos he wanted to watch of people opening eggs (don’t ask) had to be limited.
P.S The hope is one of my children becomes a YouTube vlogger and earns trillions of pounds from just opening plastic eggs and acting surprised!!!
So to sum it all up…
I think in this crazy rollercoaster ride of parenthood (that I still learn from every day) it is important not to set yourself too many rules to follow. Try and relax your expectations and adopt a go-with-the-flow attitude.
Take time to enjoy daydreaming about what your life will be like when your baby comes along. Love every second of it, but don’t feel too bad if you start to do the things you swore you never would when you have your own children.
P.P.S I’m afraid you will be sniffing your child’s bottom through their clothes in public and Tip: If it’s brown and it looks like chocolate sniff it first before wiping it off with your finger.
This was a guest post originally written for the wonderful Alex at The Parent and Baby show.
Photo credit: Designed by peoplecreations / Freepik