What I’ve learnt in the first year of parenthood

So my little dumpling has just turned the big one! Very emotional and it is certainly a time to reflect on the peaks and pitfalls of parenthood year 1. Below are a few of the things that you only learn on the other side of parenthood.

One year in and still a lot to learn!

1. Sleep is a luxury: sleep pretty much stopped being restful and relaxing at about 24 weeks pregnant but once your precious little pudding arrives it seems to disappear. I am now at the point where I can function on 5 hours sleep and my body has adjusted to being up once or twice in the night. Still, I vaguely remember that feeling of waking up naturally of my own accord…

2. Your house will never be tidy again: as mentioned here a tidy house seems to be an illusive concept. When we first brought Pudding home from hospital I did become a little obsessed with trying to keep the house tidy but this, along with the aforementioned sleep deprivation, was just all too much and I just decided to let it go Elsa style. Now my living room floor looks like Toys’r’Us and I’ve come to terms with this…honest!

3. Your laundry will increase massively: Yep. One would think a few sleep suits, vests and bibs wouldn’t equate to quite the mountain of washing that it does but it’s not so much the items themselves just the volume of items. Generally, you will change a newborn quite frequently as they are often sick or refluxing. Then there is the ‘poonami’ situations where the pooh escapes the nappy and saturates through several layers to leave a nice yellow stain. Say you have a good day where it’s only one change a day and that still means two outfits to sling in the wash. Plus you can’t rest on your laurels and leave said laundry as it will soon become an all consuming presence emanating from the wash basket. Don’t worry, the constant woosh of the washing machine doing a load will soon be a comforting sound to you.

4. Poo will become quite a focus of interest: You read correctly. Poo. You will find you and your partner discussing poo frequently. Initially, in that first week it will be as the poo transitions from black meconium to mushy yellow. At this point you will also be counting how many of these little delights appear in your off spring’s nappy. Sometimes you may even find yourself taking a photo (no one wants to hack that I cloud) so you can compare it to poo on the internet . Yes – this is a thing – poo on the internet. You can Google poo!  This then settles down until there is some kind of poo related illness and you experience a different texture/consistency to what you’re used too. Occasionally, there will be the green poo. That is usually when early teething is in progress. And things get rather interesting with the weaning nappies as you transition from pure milk to solid food. This will also introduce a new range of odours and fragrances to your little one’s bowel movements. Fun.

5. You will never leave the house without wearing something containing a schmoo stain: Believe me, I have tried to assess how much mummy muck I end up being covered in before I  leave the house and frantically try to wipe it off or away only to find that once I’m out I missed a spot. This is now a frequent occurrence at work. I have to appear smart and pulled together for my job but you can guarantee that once I’m out in natural light that, low and behold, there is baby porridge on my shoulder. This actually happened. A student politely asked in front of another colleague what the stain on my shoulder was. I peered cautiously down to see baby porridge schmoo festering on the spot in question. The most disturbing element of this professional interaction was my complete lack of care regarding the schmoo being spotted. I now readily accept that I will have some schmoo on me. Somewhere.

6. You will find your partner infinitely more annoying than pre children (at times): You love the guy. In fact you loved him so much you made a baby together. But – there are those times when even his breathing annoys you. This could just be fuelled by sleep deprivation as everything is infinitely more annoying when one is mildly tired  exhausted. In all fairness, I think part of it is the jealousy that is felt when I reflect on how different the impact on our lives has been since the arrival of our daughter. I am now officially the manager of our little Pudding’s day and know everything there could possibly be worth knowing. Husband dearest has to ask me as he seems less capable of figuring it out for himself! I’m equally as clueless but I’ve learnt what needs to be done. Hubby seems less inclined to learn as wifey has it under control…

7. You will finally appreciate why there are parent and child spaces in supermarkets: So now it all makes sense. For years you have been mildly annoyed that parents and children have the luxury of their own spaces at the supermarket. I mean, why can’t they just use the normal spaces like the rest of us mere mortals, you used to absently wonder as you glided your car into a regular space, hopped out in your heels and trotted eagerly inside to make your purchase. God I was so ignorant! Then you have a baby. You also have a travel system where the car seat needs to be hoisted in and out of the car every time you take baby out. Those spaces become life savers – quite literally! You now fully appreciate the extra room for opening doors and allowing your pushchair to be parked at the side of the vehicle rather than in the middle of passing traffic behind your car. God knows how it is with two children! This has actually started to worry me – which child do you extract from the car first? And how to you keep the child that you have removed from the car safe whilst unloading child number two? This is an answer for another day methinks! Speaking of car parking spaces…

8. You will absolutely loath any individual who parks in a parent and child space that doesn’t have a child under the age of two with them: Yes I mean you idiots that have a child of ten and a teenager. You who seem to not appreciate that having two children who are capable of walking to and from the car themselves, do not require a pushchair and can extract themselves from their own seatbelts does not mean you need to park in the parent child spaces!!!! I could quite happily ram my car into your rear end just to inflict the same devastation I feel when you, in a very blasé manner, swoop into the last parent and child space. I don’t give a tiny rat’s bottom that your teenager is an idol douche and you’ll only be popping in for a minute!!! Park in a regular space as you quite blatantly DO NOT NEED a parent and child space. This is one part the supermarket’s fault for not being clear and labelling these most essential of spaces ‘parent and toddler’ or ‘parent and baby’. Just because your teen acts like a toddler don’t mean you need no baby mamma space! Grrrrrrrr……

9. You will take much longer leaving the house than you ever imagined possible: Not entirely sure why this is …hang on, could it because you have to pack for every absolute possible scenario? Is it because there is usually some disaster waiting to happen the minute you’re about to step over the door? Baby schmoo, poo-nami, massive reflux? Yes – usually this is the case. However I am now faster than I used to be – but for a while there, I was of the mindset that maybe I just wouldn’t leave the house for a few years whilst Pudding grew up…..

10. You’ll be inundated with ‘well meaning’ advice: Most of this is contradictory which just adds to your mass confused, sleep deprived state. People will also use the phrase ‘rod for your own back’ whenever they don’t agree with your method of parenting in a smug, patronising way. People also offer advice when you neither need or request it. Obviously it’s great to be offered support and, at times, some of this advice is actually helpful…..at others it comes from the need to make an already harassed new mum feel she isn’t quite managing. The job’s tough enough – if you can’t support the parent’s choice of method then don’t comment. It’s also worth remembering that there are so many varying approaches to parenting – some people may not want to use a push chair and choose to baby wear, some people may find controlled crying works for them, some people may use reusable nappies or decide to only give their child purées whilst they wean initially. The thing to remember is that if the child is happy, healthy and well spirited then the method the parent has chosen to adopt is generally working for them. This is true of all parents out there – if you feel it’s working for your family and it’s not harming/damaging anyone or thing, then it is simply what’s right for you! But don’t disregard the advice – sometimes it does come in useful – you just need to learn to filter what’s appropriate for you out of what isn’t!

So that’s a few of the things I’ve learnt thus far and I’ve barely scratched the surface! The list could have been much more extensive and I’m certain there’s still much more to learn (I will most likely be sharing that with you at a later date)! What would you say has impacted on you most during your parenting journey?

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