Sunday, 18 November 2012

Things I Want To Tell New Parents

I tend to learn things the hard way. I have three kids. I'm not the most experienced mother in the world and I'm still learning new things every day. Just when I think "I've got this, this is a piece of cake," hormones kick in, they become teenagers and the rules change all over again. 

When I see first time parents fussing over the latest piece of baby plastic or talking about their ideal child rearing methods I can't help but shake my head. Was I really that naive? 

Psst.... Heads up!!

Everybody - and I mean everybody - from your mother-in-law to your electrician to the occasional stranger wearing a tea-cosie on their head will offer you advice about raising your baby. Even your childless friends will know more about raising children than you do! Smile, nod your head and then do whatever the hell you want.
They've had their chance to stuff up a kid, now it's your turn.

When you're on your third consecutive day without sleep and you've finally got your baby settled you'll be tempted to turn the telly down and tip-toe around. Don't do it! A lot of first time parents make this mistake and inadvertently train their baby to be noise sensitive. The moment your neighbours dog barks, when someone knocks on your front door or you accidentally drop your teaspoon in the sink you'll be contending with a crying baby all over again.

Think about when your grandparents were young: there were 10 kids in the house and the baby used to sleep (very soundly) in the bassinet on the kitchen table amongst all the noise. I was the youngest of three kids, I had two raucous brothers bouncing off the walls and my mother could vacuum under my cot without waking me. So you can tip toe around... or you can train your sleeping baby to ignore disturbing noises by leaving some white noise (music, the telly, the washing machine, etc) on in the background.

Men will be counting down the six weeks from when you had the baby. Why? Don't pretend you don't know, you were there when the Doctor said it. If you're bundle of joy was born at 2am in the morning then you can expect a tap on the shoulder in the early hours exactly 42 days after that joyous event. I mean, come on! Sure he loves you but that was one of the reasons he settled down and married you: so he could have sex on tap.

I have a bone to pick with Doctors about this. They cause these problems with their "six weeks until sex" pronouncements. They'd be a lot less marital strain if they would just be honest about when the sex tap is really going to be turned back on. Instead of lying to our husbands about it they should would be saying something like "Once the baby is sleeping through, when teething has finished, after your wife is back to a size 10 and once you've helped with the dishes." Then both parties would know where they stand.

Don't wait until your baby is cutting a tooth at midnight before stocking your fridge with drugs. Kids have an uncanny habit of reaching their pain threshold within a few minutes of the chemist closing for a long weekend. Make sure you've got a decent supply of pain killers and teething gels on hand before you need them. And some phenergan. Babies can't use it until they're two but it's not for them, is it. PS, if you're struggling with SIX he probably wouldn't even notice if you put one into his cuppa. Just sayin'.

It's a common held belief that using the telly as a babysitter is bad parenting. Poppycock! Teaching your child to roll their own and blow smoke rings is bad parenting. Sitting your child down in front of  Sesame Street so you can go to the toilet all by yourself is like having an immunisation boosting  syringe full of sanity. You could also use the telly-sitter for other things throughout the day: making that important phone call, cooking dinner, having a shower, housework, gardening or having an afternoon cocktail with the girls.

Forget everything you've ever known about the perfect nursery. You're baby isn't going to appreciate it and probably isn't even going to use it so don't base your nursery designs on something you've seen on Hollywood. Here's a shocker: movies aren't real. And here's another thing: they have a budget of millions. You don't.

There are so many things that you've been pre-conditioned to think you need....that you don't. A bed makes a great change table (but change baby on your partners side in case there's leakage). A flat plug in the laundry sink makes a great bath until they're big enough to use the real deal. Buy the bare minimum essentials for your nursery and get the rest of it when and if you need it.

All the trimmings are not going to make you a better parents. It's not going to make your job easier. It's not going to make your baby sleep better. It's not going to make your experience more enjoyable. Buying the latest-to-be-declared-essential pieces of moulded plastic will only strain your purse strings, vastly diminishing your alcohol budget. Plus, a cluttered nursery means more stubbed toes.

My Scottish Grandfather used to say "Refuse nothing but blows." Meaning "if it's free, take it...unless it's a punch in the throat."  If somebody offers you their childs outgrown clothes, accept them.  It's not being cheap, it's recycling. Considering how quickly children - especially the smaller variety - outgrow their clothes it's also common sense.

You don't have to use everything. Just pick out the nice things and pass the rest on to another friend or give it to the Salvos. Most importantly, the money you save by using hand me down clothes can pay for more and better alcohol. And don't kid yourself.... you will be needing alcohol, that's why I keep bringing it up.

Did you learn anything here today? Maybe you have some things that you would like to tell first time parents? 
I'ld love to read your comments, leave them in the box below. 

Have you heard? Bumpalicious is taking 25% off all our maternity clothing when you pre-order in time for Christmas. You can find us on Facebook for all the details. 

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