Raising a child is hard work! ....... This may be the undestatement of the year.
From getting to grips with the demanding routine of a newborn baby, to finding enough time to clean the home, earn a living and keep the children entertained and getting to school on time each morning, there are many challenges which you’ll face.
Obviously, the end results are more than reward enough though and there are very few parents who’d give up the sleepless nights and parental conflicts if it meant they didn’t have their bundles of joy with them anymore.
For those approaching parenthood - or already lucky enough to be in it - here are five things that only those with kids will understand. Whether you read this list alone or joking about it with your parents when visiting them at a McCarthy and Stone retirement home, we’re sure you’ll find plenty of things to relate to.
1. Sleep doesn’t stop, it changes forever
Sleepless nights are a common discussion topic for any prospective or current parent but the idea that you’ll ‘never sleep again’ isn’t entirely accurate. The truth is that while there will be a few sleepless nights to contend with, the rest of your evenings will be spent sleeping in a very different way.
Forget putting your head down and instantly falling into a deep slumber – once you’re a parent you’ll only ever doze lightly when turning in for the night. All of your senses will be pricked to detect the slightest disturbance or movement and this is something which will stay with you no matter how old your children get. Waking in the night when they are babies, to waiting up for them to get in when they are teenagers ..... I worry that I may never sleep properly again!!
2. Everyone thinks they know better – even those without kids
I have seen so many new parents may look for guidance from parents or friends but that doesn’t mean they want to be bombarded with every parenting opinion in circulation. Unfortunately, almost everyone has an idea of what “perfect parenting” consists of – and they won’t be shy about voicing it to you.
Even those without kids think they could do it better and new parents will have to learn a whole new level of restraint and patience when dealing with what can often come across as misguided and even condescending attitudes. Do. Not. Listen. Just find what works for you and your family.
3. Your definition of ‘gross’ will change radically
Always insisted on keeping a pristine house without an item out of place? Considered burps as vulgar and disgusting? Expect all of these sentiments to change when you have kids! Every parent must deal with their fair share of bodily functions – from nappy changing to sickness, you’ll have no time to think something is ‘gross’ when looking after a little one.
From rubbing all sorts of liquids and foods into their hair and faces, to running round the house like a whirlwind and upsetting your usual tidiness, you’ll need to reconsider your definition of ‘gross’ if you’re to survive! Trust me, I know.
4. Schoolwork is harder than you remember
Packing the kids off to school can seem like a relief for parents – until they bring you their homework that is! Most kids will need a little help and guidance from time to time and this puts a lot of pressure on parents who may have been out of education and the working world for some time.
Schoolwork will almost certainly be harder than you remember – research by The Open University Business School found 70% of adults couldn’t answer mock GCSE finance questions correctly and this will present numerous challenges for both you and your child. Only this weekend I was doing "mental maths" with my 9 year old and there were certainly some questions that made me have to think!
5. Everything you do is ‘embarrassing’
Finally, expect your kids to view every action, comment and move you make as ‘embarrassing’. For most parents, turning their children red-faced seems to be a natural talent and the phrase “you’re so embarrassing” is one you should become familiar with.
Don’t take it personally though – all parents are in the same boat and sometimes, just sometimes it is good to get them back for those "gross" moments! (but I didn't say that!)
This post is in collaboration with McCarthy and Stone but all none sleeping children are our own!