We all know how irritating it can be to receive parenting advice from someone who doesn’t have kids, no matter how well meaning they are. But what about the advice or promises we made ourselves before embarking on the motherhood journey? Here is just a modest selection of the things I thought (and often said!) during life BC (Before Caterpillar):
1) I’ll never use a licked finger to wipe my child’s face
We are all understandably disturbed by the memory of a parent or worse, an elderly aunt or grandmother, doing this to us as a child, and I swore I would never subject my child to such a vile action. What need could there be when we are awash with baby wipes? And yet, when my son was about six months old, I found myself licking my thumb to swipe a streak of dried yoghurt from his chin before catching myself in horror. I’d love to say I’ve never done this since but that would be a lie. Just last week I actually licked chocolate off his arm.
2) My child won’t overuse technology
What a ridiculous concept. I now allow Caterpillar to watch plenty of TV and films and often let him have my phone to play games or obsessively watch toy unboxings on You Tube (seriously, what’s that about?). I know some mums limit television and entertain their child for every minute of their waking hours but I’m afraid I’m definitely not one of them.
3) I’ll never sit with my child until he falls asleep
For the most part, we’ve stuck to this. We’ve never co-slept or cuddled to sleep, it’s just not our style. However, when it’s 2am and nothing will settle him I’ve been known to sit next to his bed, stroke his head…and then wake up myself two hours later.
4) I will love playing with my child all the time
I believed being a mother was my calling and that I’d love every moment of imaginative play. Turns out, much as I enjoy a lot of aspects of playing with Caterpillar now, there is no getting away from the fact that it can be repetitive and boring. To counter this; we go out a lot and see friends, join toddler classes, do creative play, read lots of books and…well, see number 2.
5) My child will have to eat every bite on his plate
Again, I pretty much half-arse at this. I don’t cook separate meals and I don’t panda to his food desires very often. He eats what we eat for the most part. However, lately I do find myself negotiating on the amount of food. If he has left all his vegetables I insist he eats a certain number of bites rather than the whole plate. Negotiation is basically the backbone of parenting a pre-schooler, right?
6) Life will be perfect when I have a baby
This laughable misconception was one of the main triggers for anxiety and postnatal depression for me. We had spent so long planning for marriage and kids that when we finally got our wish the pressure was just too great and my expectations were way off. Parenting is hard work. And I know we know this before we have kids but we don’t really know it…you know? Thankfully, it’s also rewarding, unique and incredible but my illness prevented me from seeing this for a while.
7) I’m scared of my child making a scene in public
This was the case for probably the first six months, now I’m much better at not caring. Babies cry, toddlers tantrum and mums meltdown – sadly, strangers judge, but that is their problem, not ours.
8) I will never shut my child in their room
I still believe a child’s room should be their relaxing refuse so I try to avoid this where possible. We’re big fans of the ‘naughty step’ and usually this works. However, there have been several occasions where we’ve needed to escalate to another level and his bedroom was the only option we had left.
9) Kids TV is painfully mind-numbing
Largely, this is true. But, I’ll confess, I have been known to secretly chuckle at Gigglebiz and pay attention to Mister Maker for the ideas.
10) I’ll want to be a stay at home mum
I imagined I would go back to work part-time through financial need but I had no idea how much I’d want to go back. I didn’t realise how paid work after having a child would become so important to my sense of identity and emotional health.
What did you think or say about becoming a parent that turned out to be utterly wrong?