We all have pre-conceived ideas of what parenting will be like. What sort of parent we would like to be, the morals we will be taking into parenthood should we be lucky enough to pro-create and the list of things We. Absolutely. Would. Never. Ever. Do.
For me, pre-children, that list included: using dummies, bed sharing, using jars of pre-made baby food, using ‘timeouts’ and many, many more… the list was bullshit.
Dummies: In my opinion, they look gross. Especially the ones with ‘bling’ all over them, or those novelty ones which give your baby a clown-like lipstick-smeared grin. However they have been found to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and I can tell you first hand that they absolutely reduce the risk of you wanting to chuck your baby out of a window.
Pre-made baby food: with my first baby it was more a case of: “I work part time now, it’s easier to have some spares in the cupboard in case we are short of time”. With my second it’s more a case of “she won’t eat the bloody purée I slaved over myself”. Hence…
… Baby-led weaning: I was terrified of my first baby choking. Come to think of it, I was pretty much terrified of everything with my first baby. Spoon-fed was the way forward until Rose had several teeth and a lot of practise transitioning from smooth to lumps to chunks. This time around, Willow won’t eat homemade purée, we sadly can’t afford shares in Ella’s Kitchen and it is SO much nicer to eat together as a family. Bye Bye spoons, hello mess.
P.S. She’s never, ever choked and chewed through steak faster with zero teeth than I can with a full set. It is also absolutely amazing how much they eat, just don’t overload them or the waste is horrific.
TV: Rose didn’t really watch TV until she was 2. Before that it was what I wanted to watch and only while she had no idea what it was all about. Mothers at baby swimming would gush that their three month old “loves watching Baby Jake!!” and I would roll my eyes and retort that Rose and I were currently enjoying Homeland.
I now know that Bing bunny is on CBeebies weekday mornings from 9.10-9.30am ish. I leave my two children, 3 years old and 11 months, seated like zombies, engrossed in the big screen and enjoy a twenty minute worry-free shower. Enough said.
Teething necklaces: Now this is a very recent one, in fact I made my first purchase this week and they are yet to be delivered. I don’t mean Amber jewellery which a baby wears to supposedly ease teething pain – I’m still yet to believe there is any truth whatsoever behind those, given the scientific explanation and research I’ve done – I’m talking about bright, chunky, BPA-free, super baby-safe plastic-looking jewellery that Mums(/Dads) wear for their little one to chew on/fiddle with. I kept seeing one particular make of teething jewellery pop up as a suggestion on my Facebook and every time I would scoff and think “Why would I encourage my baby to pull on/eat my jewellery?!” Then, just last week, the pinching and fish-hooking started. Man alive, can Willow pinch. Her neck-grab in particular feels like a very tiny, but very real WASP STING and there is a high probability she may have scarred my top lip with her Wolverine-like fingernails. Also, I don’t wear any ‘normal’ jewellery anyway as she would break it (we do a lot of baby-wearing: incidentally something I most certainly knew I would love and really, really do). Anyway, I’ve bought two. Just so I have a back-up.
Timeouts: I still shudder at the thought of the ‘naughty step’ and am a firm believer that children need help managing their emotions; what they absolutely don’t need is to be berated for not knowing how to deal with stress and punished by being shoved against a wall by themselves. However, my eldest daughter is often in need of some ‘calming down’ time, and for that she goes and sits on her beanbag in her bedroom. Yes, I have sent her there in a rage several times and yes, I felt bad. Every day we try harder to do better – both of us.
Buying second hand: This was more my other half. When we were expecting our first child it came to light he was a bit of a snob, actually. Thankfully my influence, the sourcing of many absolute Barry Bargains and watching the rapid decline of our bank balance even saw him agreeing to keep our eldest daughters now-too-small pants to one side for her younger sister last week. (Please don’t feel bad for her, she gets WAY too much new stuff and there are no skid marks whatsoever).
Sibling clothes-matching: Ok, this was a TOTAL turnaround for me. I was dead against it. Honestly, if you’d asked me about it three years ago you would have had to fetch me a ladder to climb down from my high horse. I was all “But they are different people! They should have their own identity! It’s almost creepy!!!” Well, the girls have matching tshirts on under their dungarees today, and they look mega cute. It all started with my eldest asking to wear the same as her little sister. We didn’t have anything the same in both their sizes so I bought a tshirt for them both which matched. I put them on and my heart melted. Now, Rose regularly asks to match, or will wait to see what Willow is wearing and trot off to find something as similar as she can find. It’s adorable. Judge all you like. We are currently loving it.
Buying stuff to keep the peace: Oh, as if I would ever buy something to keep my child quiet. Pah! Parents who do that are weak, right? Wrong. They are tired. Sick and tired. Anyway, it’s good for kids to learn compromise. So I compromise on buying yet another overpriced Frozen magazine so Rose can play with the plastic crap from the cover all the way to Grandma’s house and it means I don’t pull over and leave her by the side of the road. See, everybody wins.
Wow, I really didn’t have a clue, did I??! I’m relieved to say it didn’t take me all that long to discover that when it comes to our children, saving your own sanity, protecting the ones you love and holding together your relationship, there is pretty much NOTHING you wouldn’t do, try, buy or pray for. And because of that, we really shouldn’t judge other people for the choices they make – we’re all doing the best we can.