Rookie Parents Survival Tips.
After a solid 22 month stretch of parenting, I thought that it was about time that I, as a first time Dad, wrote a small survival guide for expectant parents.
Please do not think that this is me trying to give advice, as my first tip would be ‘don’t listen to other people’s advice; trust your instincts’.
That may sound strange coming from someone writing a blog on tips for first-time parents but trust me, you will get to the point that you would rather stick pins in your eyes than listen to advice that you never asked for when it comes to parenting.
Er, excuse me my Dad is totally qualified to write this!
Think of this as more of a map and compass to guide you through the terrain of doing the best and most important job in the world; becoming a parent.
I have made this light and easy to read to allow for the extreme sleep deprivation and low concentration levels that you will soon become accustomed to; thank me later.
You Will Never be Squeamish Again, Ever.
Picture the scene, you are sitting down at your desk, about to tuck into a sandwich on your lunch break. You catch a sudden whiff and realise that there is poo under your fingernails from the nappy that you changed before you left the house.
This is lightweight in comparison to some of the horrors that you will endure on a regular basis; I have changed nappies that carry a smell strong enough to make your eyes water from 50 yards.
Get used to it; there is no room for squeamish types in the parenting game.
No one told you this was gonna be easy!
Easy as N, C, T.
Sign up to your local NCT classes as soon as you can.
If you have not heard much about NCT classes before; they basically provide a crash course in what to expect from pregnancy and birth.
You join other new parents on the course and it is a great way of making some new parenting friends, we have formed a nice little circle of friends of a similar age to us from doing our NCT course and LT was born into a gang of playmates who also live nearby so it has been really nice.
The stuff that you learn on the course to prepare you and your partner for the birth is really useful and it is not taught in a preachy or condescending way, although I will admit that I was slightly scared of the militant course leader that took the session on the benefits of breastfeeding.
The support network that we gained from doing the course and just being in touch with other first time Mums and Dads has been great, they encouraged us to set up a Whatsapp group which has been put to good use for discussing the contents of nappies and organising curry nights; bonus!
Be prepared as they say in the Scouts.
Pack your changing bag well in advance of leaving the house and always make sure that you pack enough items to bribe your little one into submission at any given time and always, always pack a change of clothing.
The change of clothing is not for you, snot smears and milk stains are now a permanent part of your look, no the change of clothes is for your baby to cover cases of leaking or overloaded nappies.
Me again, definitely made you late again today didn’t I’?
You need to factor in at least 25 minutes of panic time before you leave the house for anything.
Panic time is the name that I have given to the 25 minutes that you spend in a blind fury, worrying about being late whilst your little one writhes around on the floor kicking and screaming and refusing to put their coat on.
So if you are meeting a friend at 11:30, plan to leave the house at 5 past 11 and you might, just might make it on time.
YouTube is Your Friend.
No matter how wholesome your ideas are on how you might parent you need to come to terms with the fact that you will give in to allowing your baby to watch videos on Kid’s YouTube.
I quickly realised, the first time that I looked after LT for a day on my own, that this is, in fact, the only way to carry out the most basic of tasks such as going to the toilet.
Kid’s YouTube can be a vital lifesaver when you are out and about and a full-on meltdown is on the cards; trust me.
I did worry that watching mindless short films showing songs about baby sharks in Japanese was bad for our daughter but in actual fact, LT learnt how to name basic colours from watching YouTube videos and listening to the songs on the videos has really helped her speech as the most words that she can string together in one go are words that she sings.
The other incredibly useful thing about YouTube is that for some reason, someone has taken it upon themselves to upload a video consisting of 9 hours of whitenoise; this is an invaluable tool in getting little ones to sleep, proven by the 5 million views that it has had (pretty sure we have contributed 1.5 million of those).
On the 4th Day, God Created Caffeine.
Never before in your life will you appreciate the full benefits of caffeine until you become a parent.
Cold Coffee and Tea will be the drink that you consume the most, it will be cold because you will be too busy/tired/confused to remember to drink it in the 15 minutes that it stays hot.
Also, the rare occasion that you get to enjoy a hot cup of Coffee or Tea will be a moment of pure bliss that you will rejoice in, similar to the occasional 5 minutes that you may get to have a poo in peace.
If you have read any lifestyle blogs in the last decade you will have heard about Hygge; this is apparently associated to an old Norse term ‘hygga’ which means to comfort.
You might have even set up some comfy areas of nicely placed cushions and carefully chosen rug patterns at home to embrace this.
Be prepared for this to change and for your living room to transform into a giant, brightly coloured soft play centre come nursery.
Wait a minute, you mean to say that all of this furniture is NOT for me?!
Forget those relaxing candles that you used to enjoy lighting and make room for a vast amount of incredibly large and cumbersome toys and other child care related stuff.
To give you an indication this is a brief list of just a few of the things that our lounge has featured in the last 2 years; pushchair, buggy, toy boxes, toy kitchen, doll’s house, jumparoo, ball pit, playmat, teddy collection and tiger scooter.
Do not despair though, every parent that you know will be in the same boat so you can invite each other round to sit in the ball pit and drink cold tea.
So there you have it, some honest observations and tips that will hopefully have you sailing through the first 6 months of parenting.
You will probably find that if you follow parenting related pages or profiles on social media your feed will be bombarded with perfectly taken, heavily filtered photos and gushing posts about another day in parenting paradise.
We are all guilty of only sharing the best bits and this can have a habit of painting a picture that parenting is a bed of roses; well it isn’t!
Raising a little person can be demanding and very testing at times and it is easy to feel under pressure to get everything right the first time.
Don’t despair though, look up the good blogs such as Don’t Believe The Hype for Dad’s or The Unmumsy Mum for Mum’s and you will find plenty of brutally honest and amusing content to keep you occupied.
My final word of wisdom would be; don’t be alone. Talk to your partner, pick up the blower to your NCT friends, your parents or even call on your neighbour if you need support or just someone to vent to; we have done all four of these in an hour of need and a problem shared is a problem halved if you are having a tough time.
The thing is, as tough as becoming a new parent is, it is also the most rewarding and happy time ever.
The last two years have been full of the best memories and watching LT develop from a tiny baby into a toddler has been amazing.
I only have to look over to Lorna and LT playing together or catch a quick smile from LT to instantly remember that I feel like the luckiest man alive and I am extremely proud of our little family.
If you like this post and can relate to it please drop us a comment we would love to hear from you.
Until next time, be excellent to each other.
The Taylors. xx