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Before having children, we have lots of ideas (and ideals) about what kind of parent we will be. The reality is usually very different. Here are ten things we think every new parent should know.
- When your child is born, your life will change forever. It will never be the same again. Throw out all notions of fitting this new experience into your old life. It’s all about to change. Some of it will be good, amazing even. The rest you’ll have to get through the best you can.
- You don’t have to do everything all at once. Yes, you will need the basics, like somewhere for your child to sleep, bedding, clothing, a car seat, etc. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. But you have time for the rest.
- If you think you’ve experienced tiredness before, then hold onto your hats. In the first couple of years, you’ll experience tiredness like you’ve never felt it before. Sometimes it will feel like constant jet lag. Sleep whenever you get the opportunity.
- Be prepared to give up all your pre-existing ideals. Sometimes you will allow your child to watch TV. And you will be so relieved that they are just sitting quietly for half an hour. You may also, on occasion, bribe your child with treats to get them to put on their new dress so you can leave the house on time. If you achieve your goal, you may even count this as a triumph. You won’t do this all the time of course, and you won’t speak of it to the other parents. Those other parents do this too.
- You will make mistakes. This is a given. Accept it as soon as possible and move on. All new parents make mistakes. The world will not end.
- Don’t worry about small things. As long as you and your child are happy, healthy and fed, don’t worry about the other stuff. So what if you haven’t ironed your top or brushed your hair. If you’re presentable ‘ish’ and you made it out of your pyjamas, then you’re doing well.
- You will need a constant supply of cloths or muslin squares. You can never have too many of these. You will use them for everything from spit-up to cloths and makeshift bibs.
- You will receive lots of advice from well-meaning parents. Some of it will be useful. Lots of it will not be. Smile politely and do your own thing. Don’t compare yourself to other parents. It is likely they are providing you with an idealised view. The reality will be very different, especially if they had their baby more than two years ago.
- Babies cry a lot. This is their means of communication. You’ll get the hang of it. Soon you’ll learn to decipher their cries and work out what it is they need. You’ll also realise that sometimes they just cry.
- And the best piece of advice is this. Love your children. Keep them clean and keep them fed. The rest will come.
Did we miss anything? What is your best piece of advice for new parents?