Becoming a parent: why didn’t anyone tell me...
However prepared you think you are for parenthood, the chances are there will be plenty of things you’ll wish you’d known before your baby arrived.
At Aviva we believe that it’s good thinking to be well prepared for each of life’s big milestones. But, of course, some things are easier to prepare for than others. With this in mind, we got together a group of new mums and asked them a leading question:
What do you wish you could have told yourself before you became a parent?
Some of the answers we got were serious, others less so! While we wouldn’t presume to tell any prospective parent what they should be doing, we think our mums came up with some wise words for anyone about to embark on parenthood – as well as a little welcome reassurance for those of us who have already set out on that tough but rewarding journey!
Expect the unexpected...
“Some things you just can’t prepare for. When you first take your baby home, you end up thinking ‘I’m left with this thing and I don’t know what to do with it!’ I wish someone had told me that I wouldn’t be the only one who gets that feeling!”
“I would have really appreciated a user’s manual!”
“There’s a conspiracy... and you join it when you become a parent... to let the newbies find out for themselves how hard it is!” And even if you do get advice, some of it will be worse than useless. Someone once told me a cold cup of tea would help my baby get to sleep. For goodness sake!”
“A bird ate my baby’s belly button...
I wish I’d known that the stump of the umbilical cord dropped off. My baby’s fell off and went in the wash. When I was hanging out the washing a bird swooped down and ate it”
“Fewer things come natural to your baby than you might imagine. Even feeding. And you have to teach your child to be put down. I imagined they’d just go to sleep in a carry cot without having to be persuaded!
“Babies are all different – as are parents – whatever advice you’re given might not apply. I wish I’d known that it’s OK to make it up as you go along. There’s no need to feel pressured. There really is no such thing as the norm.”
“If only I’d been a bit more prepared for the sheer volume of what comes out of the baby and into the nappy. Little cotton wool pads don’t do the job – it’s like taking a knife to a gunfight. Get wipes. Big wipes. And lots of them!”
“I wish I’d realised how much time you spend awake in the middle of the night. If so I might have prepared for it a bit better. Fill your Kindle with books and stock up on box sets!”
“I never realised quite how much they’d hate the small stuff… everyday things like having their nappies changed.”
“If I’d realised that babies hate their own food and always want yours I might have changed what I ate. Or just put theirs on the floor – makes it instantly appealing to them!”
Some more practical answers....
“Buy muslin cloths. Loads of them. And then, when you’re certain that you’ve got too many, go out and buy some more.”
“....Yes, but they breed anyway! More come out of the wash than you put in. It’s like magic.”
“You ought to be able to get multiple packs of shoes and hats, because most babies are on a mission to pull them off and throw them in the street the moment you look away.”
“I wish I’d known about the mirrors you can use so you can see your baby more easily when you’re in the car. Until I found out about these, I felt absolutely distraught not being able to see my baby while I was driving. The separation anxiety works both ways!”
“For me, white noise worked wonderfully to get my baby off to sleep. Lullabies and ceiling projectors were just too stimulating... but a recording of car engine noises worked brilliantly!”
“I’d tell myself to practice with car seats! Not all models are the same – make sure you know exactly how to get it in and out of the car, and your baby in and out of it, before you have to do it for real.”
“However much you practice something, it turns out to be harder in real life. Putting a baby doll into a harness is one thing, but to prepare for the real thing you need to do it with one hand tied behind your back in the pouring rain. Or try putting a live octopus into a string bag a few times.”
“Don’t feel guilty about anything. But you will. So just don’t feel guilty about it when you do!”
We all want to give our children the best start in life. You can’t prepare for everything, but you can give yourself a little more peace of mind by putting a few practical things in place – such as making sure you’ve got the support you need when you need it most. If you’re thinking about insurance, for instance, Aviva offers Child Health Essentials cover. It’s easy to apply and could bring you some welcome peace of mind.