Being a parent is great, obviously, but there are a few things I wish I’d before I started this journey. I’m not saying I’d change anything, but I wish I’d been better prepared in a few areas.
If I could just crack the space-time continuum and figure out how to appear to my 21-year-old self and bestow ten pearls of wisdom, this is what I’d say:
1. Nothing ages your skin like prolonged sleepless nights
People laugh when I say I administer at-home chemical peels and my face creams costs £40+. I’m not joking. If I didn’t keep burning bits off my skin, I guarantee I would look no younger than 85. I’ve given up on the eye bags.
Pre-children, I could come home after a night out, sleep for 3 hours, work for 8 more, then have a disco nap and head out again for more of the same. I did not know how important getting a deep sleep was. I was confident that this would prepare me for the sleep deprivation of of motherhood. Boy was I wrong.
Weekend party-hours are nothing compared to four straight years of nightly disturbances. Yes four. Each of my children have continued to wake through the night until they are four, and I never did figure out to fix it. This meant I had a one year period of not being woken up by my daughter before my son came along. Sadly, I was pregnant for most of that year, so didn’t sleep anyway.
I was going to share a photo of me pre-children so you could compare, but I could only find one of me at 24, when the rot had already set in.
2. Children take all of your money
To be honest, it’s not so much that they’re expensive (they are), but that they become the only people you spend money on.
I’ve been really, really poor. When it was just me, raising my daughter on my own, I hardly had anything. I worked hard for not a lot of money and I tried to be careful with what I spend. Over time I got promoted and earned a little more. Things became less difficult but I found that all I spent my extra cash on was my daughter (and then my son when he came along).
It’s the same now. It’s the reason I walk around in holey leggings while my kids add an expensive magazine to my shopping basket and I say, “oh, go on then!”
3. Having kids is kind of addictive
I’ve got two kids and they’re so cool I’d like a couple more!
For a time it was all I could think about, but after some complications with periods etc (trying to avoid a TMI situation here) more kids are off the cards for a year or two.
I miss having something so exciting to look forward to. I miss having a fresh baby, snuggled up on my chest. I don’t miss waking up every 20 minutes for the first month.
4. CBeebies will arm you with some great conversation starters
Did you know an ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain?
No, I didn’t either until CBeebies told me about eight years ago and I’m still telling people to this day.
In the absence of an actual life or the ability to watch grown up TV shows, CBeebies will get you through.
5. Unless you make a huge effort not to, you WILL get fat
Parenting isn’t conductive to the healthiest of lifestyles.
You eat your children’s leftovers after every meal, you eat biscuits in the middle of the night in a trance-like state. Kids can’t walk far, so neither do you.
Kids want an ice cream at the beach (and so do you), they need help eating their Easter eggs, and make you turn to a glass of wine in the evening if you need to unwind.
If you don’t spend all day fending off the extra calories parenting throws at you, you will gain weight, and gain it fast. Trust me, it’s where I am now!
6. It’s funny when they’re cheeky
As much as you think you’ll have a perfect child because you’ll be strong on the discipline, it never happens.
My son sings songs about bums all the time. I have to tell him off, but mainly because I know I’m supposed to. It’s actually hilarious, but I’m still forced to pretend I’m horrified!
7. Shopping online is the only way to save your sanity
Under no circumstances take a child over 2 to the supermarket.
The minute you child can recognise branding or talk a little bit, they will pester you for everything they see in the supermarket. I was forced to buy a car every time I went to Tesco before I realised an online shop would save cash and arguments.
8. Buy plain black socks
Children’s socks are magic. Socks that are alike repel each other with such great force that once they’ve left the packet, they will never be in a pair again.
Buy plain white/black/grey socks because they are indifferent about their peers and will match with whatever else comes out the washing machine.
9. Kids like it outdoors
Kids love being outside, which means you have to go outside too. I hate being outside. It’s cold, it’s usually wet, you can’t wear nice clothes and at some point you will have to run after your child. I also hate running.
10. It’s all worth it
Had to end on a soppy one, didn’t I?
Being a mum is really cool, my kids are ace. Hard work, but ace. I wouldn’t change it for the world, even though being a parent makes you fat and poor.
This blog post was my offerings for the Write Club Challenge (which a few other bloggers take part in too), here are some other entries: