What parenting secrets do you wish you had been told before falling pregnant?

Pregnant
Image credit: ninacoco | Flickr

Congratulations to Gary Barlow and his wife who have just announced they’re expecting their fourth child.  I wish them all the best.  It’s actually got me thinking about babies today; quite a few of my friends are expecting their own little bundles of joy this year.  It’s so lovely to see them all excited but I have to giggle a bit when they say it won’t change the way they live or what they do.  Life will go on as normal.

Except it doesn’t.  Not a chance.  There are so many things about having children and being a parent that no-one tells you.  With this in mind – and using the benefit of hindsight – here’s my advice about those ‘parenting secrets’ people just don’t tell you…

You understand the true meaning of tiredness and that you’re likely to feel like this for the rest of your life.

When you announce your pregnancy, people will crack jokes about how knackered you’ll be once the baby arrives.  You laugh it off at the time but, when baby arrives, you realise there is a whole new level of tiredness reserved exclusively for Mums.  It’s not just that you will never again have a lie-in; it’s the constant attention and comforting that a small child requires throughout the day and night plus the task of fitting in housework around the whirlwind that is children.  It is truly exhausting.

The same applies for guilt.
Getting out of the house with children takes military precision planning

Need to get you and your baby out of bed, dressed and to the playgroup / nursery / local café etc. for 9am?  Easier said than done.  Such a manoeuvre requires detailed planning and organisation, most often started the night before.  Leave plenty of time to get yourself and your baby ready, and prepare for last minute outfit changes due to baby vomit and/or poo.  Trust me, it happens!

The best time for housework is the wee small hours

When a baby is first born you spend all day and night chasing after them and napping when they do. That’s all well and good but, if your husband is anything like mine, that ironing pile is going to stay high.  And, as your child grows and cuts out the daytime naps, how do you juggle a clean home with entertaining the little ones?

I haven’t found a definitive answer to that.  But, what I have discovered, is that the best time to get tasks done properly is late at night once the children are in bed or at the break of dawn before they get up.   A friend of mine will do her ironing at 5am before her toddler wakes up (true story).  Unfortunately, my family doesn’t appreciate my vacuuming at that sort of time in the morning.

You lose your name

When a woman gets married, she can choose whether or not to change her last name to that of her husband.  That’s a choice.  When you have a baby, you lose your first name.  From that moment on you will be eternally known as ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’.  It can take a little while to get used to it.  And you know you’re in trouble when you’re partner starts calling that too…

The first year of your baby’s life goes far too fast

Okay, so this is something you will probably be told but you won’t believe it until your baby is born, you blink just for a second and the next thing you know, your little one is celebrating their first birthday.  Treasure every minute; take photos and videos, keep a record box, take advantage of long cuddles on the sofa – it will be over before you know it.

When you think you know what to expect and have another baby, you realise that you, in fact, still know nothing.

So, you got through the birth, survived the sleepless nights, feeding demands, weaning and teething, comforted your baby when they were ill, baby-proofed your home, seen your child start to crawl and maybe even take their first steps.  You think you’ve got it sussed and decide it’s time for another.  But, when that next baby arrives you realise that everything you learnt before very likely goes out the window.  Every child is different – I discovered this with my 2 right from the very start – and what works for one may not work for another.  Be prepared to learn all over again.

What things do you wish you had been told about parenthood before you got pregnant?