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Friday 22 September 2017

9 Lessons I've Learned as a Parent

It's a long old slog. But as I say goodbye to the 'baby' stage and my sons grow into little boys, I've been reflecting a little on what I've learned in the early years.

1. A broken lift can ruin your day

The shoes are on, the change bag is packed and the baby's in a fresh nappy. Stage 1 of my plan is complete. I arrive at my destination and park up successfully. As an added bonus, the baby's fallen asleep and stays asleep as I pack him into his buggy. I'm onto a winner. Stage 2 - BOOM. 

Now all that's left is to stroll into the upmarket department store, navigate my way past the fancy bags and shoes that no longer warrant buying, shimmy up in the lift to the nice, clean, cake-laden cafe on the top floor and slurp myself into a coffee coma.

At this stage, black and yellow hazard tape is not what I want to see and my heart sinks. Where am I supposed to go now? What if the baby wakes up as I put him back in the car? And I've paid for two hours extortionate parking. The last thing I want to do is retreat back to a jar of instant and Jeremy Kyle.

To many, a broken lift is not the end of the world. But to a new mum who has taken a week to summon the courage to leave the house, it's a confidence crusher. Along with filthy toilets,  illegal parking in parent and child spaces, and cafes that have insufficient space between the tables and/or don't serve juice cartons. Squash in an open cup is not the same. NOT the same. Napkin, anyone? 

2. You will become 'that' friend

You know the one. The one who only talks about her kids and it's so boring it makes you not want to invite her out. Because the conversation will inevitably turn to sleep deprivation (yawn) and pooey nappies (urgh) at some point. 

Nobody wants to be that parent. I remember telling a friend across the pub table over a sherry (her) and an orange juice (me) whilst pregnant with my first, that I wouldn't become that person. I may even have promised.

But it's a promise I couldn't keep and I'm sorry. The sad fact is that parenthood, or new parenthood at least, brings with it the unfortunate truth that a new baby takes over your life, eviscerating any previous hobbies, holidays, social appointments, friendships or careers - it's all banished to the wayside because you have a tiny human to keep alive, one which demands all of your time and effort, every second of every bloody day. Which leaves little opportunity for a conversational coffee at some trendy bistro on a Tuesday afternoon.

3. Patience is a virtue

Sometimes, just sometimes, I simply cannot hold it in any longer and I just have to shout. I know I shouldn't, but when my patience runs out and the frustration takes over, it is inevitable.

What I have noticed though, is that if I raise my voice, my son raises his voice. If I shout, he shouts. And if I scream, he screams. He feeds off my emotions. 

It took me a long time to realise this but now I have, it means I'm much more able to respond to his outbursts and protestations in a way that minimises the risk of it escalating into a full-blown screaming match.

I'm not the most patience person, I'm really not. I am a Scorpio, after all. But I've found if I can try to remain calm and disconnect myself from his anger, then I can encourage him to communicate his feelings in a less aggressive way.

4. It's OK for your kid to be sad (once in a while)

I'm sad once in a while too. Like when we run out of ice cream or wine, or when the laundry basket's full again. Or when I see pictures of other people going on exotic holidays, and showing off their flat stomachs. Or when I try something different from the takeaway menu and sadly realise I should've stuck with my usual. 

Life is full of disappointments. Sometimes you can't have everything you want. And sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do, often to earn the things you want. 

I want my boys to understand that and if I have to withstand a few tantrums to teach them, then so be it.

5. It's OK to be silly

I wasn't very good with kids before I had my own. They made me nervous. I just didn't know what to do with them. But it turns out, reducing myself to the emotional level of a toddler isn't as difficult as it looks.

I've found that it works much better if I properly immerse myself in a game with them even for a short while, as they're then much more amenable to me getting some tasks of my own done afterwards. 

Tickle chase? I'm in. Roaring like a dinosaur? You got it. Popstar posing? Make way for the master.

6. Naps are more important than visitors

Sorry, Gran. You're going to have to come back in an hour. 

Although if you're willing to deal with the fallout from the baby missing it's nap, step right in. But I won't be staying - I'll see you tomorrow, after the 100 decibel wailing has subsided and you've worn your slippers out pacing the nursery carpet.

7. Nobody gave the baby a manual either

As I've progressed from 'mother-of-one' to 'mother-of-two' and as the boys have grown out of the new baby stage, I've realised that most of what is written in so-called 'baby handbooks' is a load of complete twaddle.

It is useful guidance as long as it's taken with a huge dollop of instinct and a big cup of 'chill-the-heck-out'. 

No baby is the same. Heard that before? Yes? That's because it's true. What will work for one baby may not work for the next. And especially not for it's sibling, it seems. 

So if your baby doesn't latch immediately, or it doesn't appear to see the point of baby sensory, don't worry. Your baby isn't broken. It's just a person, figuring out how to live, just like the rest of us.

8. You can do it

Yes you can. Don't look at me like that - you can do it. Because...

9. Love is all you need

Every time I hear these words I remember the scene from Love Actually when Keira Knightley gets married. Just me?

It's true, though. Love gets me through the bad times and helps me appreciate the good times even more. I didn't need to spend lots of money on fancy classes or posh puree (but I did). I don't think my boys will remember whether I fed them Ella's Kitchen or supermarket own brand. They won't care if they wore the trendiest brands as a baby or if their toys came from Poundland.

But I know that every kiss and every cuddle is an investment in our bond as a family. It's an investment in their independence because they know I'll always be there for them. It's an investment in their ability to empathise and show compassion to others as they grow into young boys and eventually into men.

Love is all you need. 💝

Burnished Chaos

3 Little Buttons

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Mum Muddling Through


  1. I'm doing ok NOT succumbing to No.2, though my wife is slowly converting.

    One other thing I learned is that kids don't need toys. My son's toy chest is overflowing with awesome goodies(that he rarely uses). But the minute I use up all the paper towels, he wants the empty cardboard tube to play with. And he has a blast.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Haha! I, too, isn’t good with kids. I don’t know how to play with them and be silly with them until I have my own children. :)
    But I’m still not good with other kids 😂

  3. I can definitely relate to what you are saying. We really do learn a lot of things along the way. Thank for sharing what you have learned and gone through

  4. Brilliant! So so true i never values naps before i had kids and never wanted to be 'that friend' i am so totally now 'that friend'! Great post #blogstravaganza

  5. Haha 'that friend' yes we all become them don't we. It's impossible not to when they are your whole world for that season of your life. Great read x

  6. very true, my eldest two were fine if we missed a nap. The youngest is awful it's a wake up call to me and lots and lots of silly they all love it

  7. Can absolutely relate to this post. I've learnt so much as a parent already, and I'm sure there's more to come!

  8. Naps are definitely more important than visitors. there's nothing worse than an un-napped baby! Xx

  9. These are amazing lessons that I too have learnt x

  10. Naps, I miss naps! I miss visitors but I miss naps more. Even the youngest tries to skip naps. :( x

  11. Ahh, all so true. And you're right, love is all you need :) xxx

  12. What a lovely post and its funny how things you said you would never do you now do, esp re naps #Blogstravaganza

  13. Popping back from #Blogstravaganza, thanks so much for linking lovely! Xx

  14. awww I have to agree with you, love is all you need #Blogstravaganza

  15. 6yrs after becoming 'That Friend' My friends all now have babies - thank god! I am no longer the boring one!!

  16. Oh I loved this post! You’ve totally hit the nail on the head. Thanks for sharing this at #TriumphantTales. Hope to see you again on Tuesday.

  17. I'm so glad I baby carried so the lift thing never bothered me although frequenting cafes was rare!! Love is definitely key! Lovely little post. ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

  18. Wow, i can relate to every one of your nine! What a great post, and who, you are a quick study! Nice post for us all! #familyfunlinky xoxo

  19. Oh the naptime one is a classic! There shall be no messing with the naptime thank you please! Visitors just don't get how traumatic the day becomes if nap time is thrown out of sync do they? They literally dictated my day... but oh how I miss them haha. Love this. Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam x

  20. Lovely post. :) I think patience, naps, and love are all anyone needs - regardless of age. ;) x

  21. I agree with everything you have mentioned specifically acting silly. I feel when i act silly with my kids, they are so happy and they keep hugging and kissing me ♥️♥️

  22. Yes, agreed! Love is all you need when parenting, thank you for sharing!

  23. Agree with all these points; especially the last one, that scene in Love Actually gets me every time too! #thesatsesh

  24. This is a lovely post. I'm totally with you on the patience thing - my children pick up on my stress so quickly. Also agree about the silliness, although it's something I need to work on! Thanks for sharing with #Thesatsesh

  25. I never thought I would be that mum with the naps but if missed!! I love being silly too x

  26. Great post, I love all the lessons you have learnt, agree totally with being silly x

  27. Oh my gosh that is such a good point - 'no one gave baby a manual either' haha brilliant! x

  28. Nodding along with this post - so much that I agree with! Yes to the naps being non-negotiable especially with twins! And yes I can be soooo patient all day and then explode at teatime from nowhere (not very mindful of me!) But YES love is the most important thing! xx Lovely post xx #thesatsesh

  29. 9 very important lessons and 9 of many many more you'll learn as they get older. We never stop learning and 14 years in I'm still totally winging it!

  30. Very Nice Blog I Have Read Your Blog It Is Really Interesting

  31. I'm Scorpio too. I wonder if that's why I love your blog?!! Love IS all you need. And gin. All the gin ;)