I remember when I found out that Hannah was pregnant, I remember it like it was yesterday…I was at work and at the time was sat on the toilet looking at Facebook on my phone when it rang, it was Hannah…This was about 5 days before our wedding and she was busy out and about finalising all the little details for our big day.
The things I pretended to care about but didn’t, like favours… I didn’t even know what a favour was until we got engaged!
So I assumed it would be to ask my opinion about something weddingy…She said are you sat down, yes I am…why?! Because I have something to tell you…I’m pregnant.
We wanted more than anything to have kids and it’s something we couldn’t wait to happen. We started trying shortly before we were due to get married expecting it to take a while but little did we know that it would happen straight away!
I remember feeling a mixture of things, on one hand I was so excited as it was everything we ever wanted, but also there was sheer dissapointment as our honeymoon was one week away. A holiday of a lifetime, New York for 4 days, seeing the sights and then Florida for ten days experiencing every theme park, ride and enjoying each other for one last break just the two of us.
The reality of our honeymoon couldn’t have been any further from what we had planned, most mornings I ate in the diners alone as Hannah couldn’t leave the hotels because of the morning sickness. So I would bring back food for her.
Shopping trips on my own because it was too hot for her. One trip on a children’s ride at Universal Studios because she wasn’t allowed on anything else. That trip whilst it did have a couple of high points, was a complete let down and waste of money.
Anyway, back to the point! When we got back it was full steam ahead preparing for the birth of our son. Baby books, stock piling nappies, wipes, clothes, gadgets we didn’t need, you know the drill for first time parents.
After reading all the books I could, I told Hannah of the type of dad I wanted to be. Firm, fair, their friend, a by the book parent as I like to call them.
All of this changed the moment we got home from hospital and began on our journey of parenthood.
Here is what I have learnt along the way!
1. Kids learn the art of negotiation in the womb
They decide when to enter this world and then their deciding on things doesn’t stop there. Pretty much every decision you make from the moment they are born is dictated by them. Do you go out or stay in? Depends what sort of shitty behaviour they are displaying that day. So you take them out and they are just as bad as if you would have stayed in. You try to reason with them if you go out, they agree to behave and then five minutes later, turmoil. Which leads me on to my next point.
2. You wished you had bought shares in Kinder eggs when you got your pocket money when you were a child, as you will go through plenty of them bribing your kids.
Whilst my kids are so young I can get away with bribing them with chocolate. But it only gets me so far and that’s where Kinder eggs come in, they get chocolate and a toy and to them it’s win win. It’s cheaper than a crappy kids magazine that lasts all of five minutes and gets ripped to shreds after one day, when all they really want is the toy stuck on the front. So we settle on Kinder eggs, and for thirty blissful moments you get calm, they are amused with the little toy inside and then it gets discarded and forgotten about so you end up adding to the already high pile of toys they have but never play with.
3. If you have more than one kid, you instantly adopt a Jekyll and Hyde personality.
Poor kids, they can’t do right from doing wrong! You have to adopt an almost split personality when dealing with your kids as chances are they will never behave at the same time. When one of them is being naughty you have to act as the mean parent, but what do you do if your other child is being an angel? You act as the nice parent! But what do you do when this is happening at the same time, you tell one of them off while smiling at the other child…I find this really hard as chances are you will end up being mean parent to the well behaved one, which I do!
4. You become an origami master using baby wipes
With nappies you are either a ‘get through a whole pack of wipes per nappy parent’ or you become a ‘wipe master’. I started off being the parent who was scared to get a little bit of nugget on my fingers so I would get through wipes like they were going out of fashion. Nowadays I am a master, to get through the task I have a competition with myself, how many times can I fold one wipe before I need a new one. Currently I am down to 4-5 folds of the wipe depending on how squitty it was!
5. If you get left alone at home with a baby get used to being watched while you have a poo.
If you are one of those parents that has any amount of time as an ‘at home parent’ be prepared to lose any privacy you may have had once upon a time. If you have had any form of stage fright when it comes to having a wee in public toilets, times that by ten. Little wide eyes watching you do your business is the most off putting thing I have ever experienced. Having a little person stare back at you from their bouncer is enough to stop you from going, forget Imodium and go with this method.
6. This one is for the dads. When I’m home with the kids and the wife is out she comes home to a tidy house!
I will make sure everything is done, and I mean everything. Washing done, kitchen clean, dishwasher emptied and refilled, toys tidied, all beds made, all school runs done, all meals, DONE. When I’m at work and come home, the house is a mess! But please be aware about keeping quiet about this one, a ‘what have you been doing all day’ is never received well! This is how to start an argument in an instant.
7. Nap time…First baby rules your day, from then on they work around you.
When you have your first baby, chances are is that your whole
day existence focuses around nap time. This is where you can lose friends who don’t have kids! ‘You fancy meeting for lunch?’…’Oh sorry we can’t, Elliot naps at 12 for 2 hours’… ‘Ok what about after lunch?’… ‘Sounds good, but we will have to leave at 4 so Elliot can have his late afternoon nap!’ But when it comes to having your second child, naps work around you! This is what reclining buggies were invented for.
8. You become an inventor or at least think you could be one.
When it comes to going out, your kids growing up, new outfits for your kids, there will become so many times you will say to yourself ‘I wish there such a thing as….’. For us it was a way of aiding kids into their car seats without having to help them in from a three door car. More lately though it’s been thoughts about designing shoes for kids with wide feet like ours, having been thoroughly fed up of searching for shoes that fit! The other thing you will do is speak to your baby in a language never heard before by anyone else. Hannah often refers as to our little girl as bubsy woobles. I remember the first time I heard her say that and thinking ‘wtf is busy wobbles!’
9. There is no such thing as a lie in…EVER! ever…Hungover and want to sleep it off? forget it!
The first thing you will normally hear from other parents when you are pregnant is the lack of sleep and the getting no lie in thing. At the time you laugh it off and think that you will cope. But then the realisation sets in on your first night with your baby, the realisation of ‘shit, this no sleep thing is an actual thing!’ It doesnt get easier as they get older. My seven year old would sleep for Britain given half the chance, but his four year old brother has other ideas. 7am is a lie in for him. So he wakes up his older brother and usually moaning and groaning followed by arguing. Which in turn wakes up the baby who finally went down at 2am after waking up at 11pm. So the more kids you have the less chance you have of actually getting any sleep! Don’t even get me started on hangovers with kids though, this is TOUGH, really TOUGH!
10. Calpol to kids is like a cold beer on a hot day to an adult.
If you could find a way of selling a calpol flavoured drink without all the medicinal aspects of it, you could become a very rich man I promise you that. When my kids are poorly and we need to reach for the stuff, it usually follows with a major sugar rush, then a massive come down. But they remember the taste and will forever more be trying it on just to have another taste of that strawberry flavoured goodness, even when there is nothing wrong with them. The closest I have found to the taste is those Strawberry Dreams that come in Cadburys Roses, but its still not close enough.
11. The threenager is evil!
There will become a time usually some where between the ages of 2-3 where your child will wake up a monster. This is the stage the cuteness wears off and that cuteness is replaced with a stroppy, pubescent 2 or 3 year old who is going on 16. They will have flashes of naughtiness, mood swings, acting up and the more you try and fight the worse it becomes. You get to the stage of not being able to take them anywhere without full on erratic behaviour. The type where they throw themselves down yelling and shouting into the floor of your favourite shop, like the floor has done something real bad!
12. When they find their voice it’s game over for your sanity!
You do everything possible to encourage your childs first words, you sit talking to them for hours, you will that first word so hard. But when they get to the point of being able to string sentences together, they will often just sit in your ear just talking. Not saying of anything of any relevance, just non stop talking. My 4 year olds favourite hobby is talking. He likes to repeat things over and over and over, just in case you missed the 9 times he said it within the last 2 minutes. What makes it worse is that it’s usually something I have just told him. If we tell him things we have planned, we will never hear the end of it. I told him the other day I needed to go and buy him a lunch box for school, and sure enough it didn’t stop, ‘You are going to buy me a lunch box for school’… ‘Have you bought my lunch box for school yet’… ‘When are you going to buy my lunch box for school’…’What lunch box are you going to buy me for school”….’Have you bought it yet’….’Why haven’t you bought it yet’….’Which shop sells lunch boxes so you can go and buy me one now’…. ARRGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
13. There is a lot of really good aspects to having kids.
One of them is the ability to blame them for things. You can usually blame a lot on kids until they start talking! Spilt drinks, it was Tobias…Eating all the biscuits, must have been Elliot…Hannah accusing me of eating all of the boys crisps for their lunch boxes, wasn’t me must have been Tobias giving them to Georgie. The best is if you are running late for virtually anything, blame the kids, oh they pooed right as we were walking out the door, I use this one a lot, even with Hannah when I have picked her up from work before 😉
14. My final point is probably the most sincerest one.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that your children are still just kids. My 7 year can be so useful sometimes, especially with helping out with his baby sister. He is at the stage where he really wants to help his Mum and me out, emptying the dish washer, loading the dish washer, hoovering, making his and his brothers lunch. Usually it’s done badly, but that doesn’t matter, he really tries and it makes us so proud to see how grown up he can act sometimes. But then on the flip side, he still acts like a child and rightly so as he is only 7. He still gets in moods, still does things he shouldn’t and it’s these moments that I struggle with sometimes. Sometimes I see this very mature young man and then he spoils it by breaking his bed with all the bouncing on it! I often forget he is just 7 years old, but then he does those things that kids do, and I can rest easy that we haven’t lost that amazing innocence that comes with being a child.
So there you have it, just some of the points I have learnt on my parenting journey so far that I wished I would have had a little inside knowledge on when I was reading those ‘first time parent books’ all those years ago.
Being a parent is hard but yet so rewarding, I wouldn’t change a thing about my kids. Their unique personalities are what makes them who they are and I love witnessing just what they are becoming.
But at the same time, I do sometimes sit there and ask myself if I made the most of my life before I had kids. Probably not, but there is nothing I can do about that now.
All I can focus on now is making sure my kids make the most of every opportunity put in front of them, so they have no regrets.