When you’re pregnant or first become a parent, there’s a huge amount of books and other information out there to digest. From what size fruit your unborn baby is to how to introduce solid foods, you’d think that there would be a manual for every situation. But as a seasoned mum of a boy and a girl, I’m not in the minority when I say that there’s plenty that the books don’t tell you.
Every child is different
Yes, there’s a load of manuals out there, but what happens when your child doesn’t fit the mould? I can almost guarantee you that there’s no perfect child out there, who reacts well to sleep training or behaviour coaching. Try to take advice with a piece of salt and take the parts that work for you. Plus don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself or our child with others. OK, your child still doesn’t sleep through the night but he’s happy and healthy and that’s what counts.
It’s the same with siblings
Also don’t assume that two children, even when they’re siblings, will be the same. From day one, my two have been miles apart, from nap lengths to food choices to character traits. It certainly keeps you on your toes!
You can’t predict your reactions
Sick, wee and poo, I can cope with those, even being covered in them or cleaning up the kids before myself. But I’m really beyond my limits when it comes to headlice and nits. I dread the letter coming home from school or nursery with a new case of it. Even if my kids are clear, the mere thought of it makes me go all funny.
There is no right answer
You could be a working mum, a stay at home mum or anywhere in between, it doesn’t matter. Mum guilt is real and it means that whichever decision you do make, you’ll always agonise over the what ifs and what you’re missing out on (including being an adult!) Just do what works for your family, even if it’s not what your friends and family are doing, and remember that nothing lasts forever.
They will change your world
Much as you hope it, your life will never be the same after you’ve had a child. Whether it’s how much sleep you now get to which foods pregnancy have put you off forever, your own body will be different. Yes you may get your shape back, or be happy with your new shape, but there’s also changes to things like your periods, your hair and your nails to contend with too.
Your resilience will be immense
Lots of sports stars and politicians talk about the important of resilience and how it helps them to achieve greatness. When you’re a parent, your level of resilience is frankly off the chart. There’s never any giving up when you have a child, not matter how hard it gets. Even when you’re on your knees after another sleepless night, you’ll be thinking about packed lunches and whether your washing will dry outside. When your child wants to play yet another game of snakes and ladders, you’ll get down on the floor with them just for the bonding time. And when the bad stuff happens, you put on a happy face for them because you don’t want them to feel your pain.
The surprise moments
This is absolutely the best part. Those unexpected moments when your kids surprise you. It might not be anything conventional or something that anyone else would understand, but its these moments that you will treasure. Like when your son runs over to hug you when he’s finally mastered the tallest part of the playground, or when your daughter draws a picture of you with a massive smile. Try to write them down or take photos as a reminder, to look back on when you’re having a wobble or a dark day.
Parenting is the hardest job in the world, but you wouldn’t swap it for anything.