Before I had kids there were all sorts of things I said I would never do once I became a parent. Little did I know…
Marsupi’s incomplete list of things I said I would never do before I had kids
Use the television as a babysitter
We have all been guilty of saying this. Before we had kids, we were never going to pop them in front of the television while we tried to get something done. Our kids were never going to get obsessed with commercial characters like Paw Patrol and Dora the Explorer, because we would expose them to natural and organic types of play instead.
Although we managed to hold out until our first child was two, a bit of screen time does help when we need it. Especially now with a baby at home who still requires frequent feeds and sleeps, screen time allows me to keep my toddler quiet while I nurse and put his sister down. And the children’s programs are actually a lot more educational than I previously thought.
I also said that I would never give them my phone in public to occupy them. Well, I can tell you when my husband and I were at the accountants last week, our toddler was in a very “active mood” doing laps around the board room table… my phone was quickly pulled out and gave us the 20 minutes of quiet we needed to finish the meeting and quickly without all the interruptions.
Let their schedule dictate my own
Before children, we all had that friend who already had a baby and couldn’t catch up at a certain time because it was time for their baby to sleep. I wasn’t going to do that. My baby would be flexible and fit around our lifestyle. I would still be able to make coffee dates and go for dinner with friends. Our baby’s schedule wasn’t going to dictate what I was able to do.
With two kids who are not great sleepers, especially in the evening, sleep has become very important in our home, so most of the time sleep must come first for everyone’s sanity and wellbeing.
I do try to get out as much as I can during the day though so having my Marsupi really helps with that especially still trying to keep my toddlers usual activities which usually coincide with my baby’s sleep times.
Smell their butts (or their dirty clothes)
This particular mum-habit looks really gross to non-parents. I wasn’t going to sniff my child’s butt, or look down the back/side of the nappy, or, heaven forbid, stick my finger down there to see if they had pooped.
I also wasn’t going to sniff socks or dirty undies picked up off the floor to check if I really needed to wash them, or if they were good enough for another day’s use.
But I realised that this is the quickest way to reduce my workload, and suddenly once my kids came along, grossness didn’t seem to be a factor. When within the first few weeks (or even minutes) of their life they wee on you, poop on you and spit up all over you, you start to adjust your concept of ‘gross’.
Let them have a tantrum in public
Before I had kids, it was easy to think that a child having a tantrum in public has something to do with the parenting style. My kids wouldn’t tantrum in public because I wouldn’t let them – I wasn’t going to raise my kids that way.
The reality is almost all kids will have a tantrum in public, and it has very little to do with your parenting style. Between the ages of 2 and 5 it is pretty much guaranteed. And once they have launched into one, there is literally nothing you can do to stop it, you just have to comfort them as best you can and wait until it’s over.
Sound like my mother
Everyone remembers things their mother said that they hated hearing over and over again as a child, and that they swore never to say when they became parents themselves.
And because our parents said them over and over again while we were growing up, somehow, they are imprinted on our brains, and just magically pop out now we have kids.
Favourites of mine include ‘Because I said so, that’s why!’, ‘Don’t come crying to me when it all ends in tears!’ and ‘Who is going to pick it up then, the magic shoe/lunchbox/dirty sock (insert most appropriate noun here) fairy?’
I also wasn’t going to cook those boring repetitive dinner dishes. My children would be happy to eat what we were eating, I wasn’t going to have fussy eaters.
Now I cook what is easy and I know they will eat without too much fighting. And if it is repetitive and boring there is even less fighting, so it just makes sense really.
Neglect my own appearance
We all looked at mums when we were single, with their lack of make-up, bags under their eyes, stained clothes and their hurried mum-buns. We all said, ‘I won’t look like that – I will take care of myself’
Yet when you become a parent your own personal appearance doesn’t seem to matter quite as much as everything else around you. Once your body has gone through the amazing things it has gone through like pregnancy and childbirth, not to mention everyone in the delivery suite seeing you naked, you don’t worry so much about what you look like.
But you do start to care a lot about what your kids look like and pay extra attention to their hair and their clothes. You start spending much more money on them and over time less and less on yourself.
Before I had kids, I was always going to still have my hair and make-up done, clean clothes, shower daily and look after myself. Then I realised how little time a mother has, and how many priorities she has to juggle, and things like my own appearance started to get bumped down the importance list. Some days a shower is considered a luxury!
And one thing I used to do before I had kids, that I don’t do now…
Judge other people’s parenting efforts
Before I had my own children, I looked at mothers and their kids and thought ‘I won’t do that with my children…’, but now I know better.
I know that parents are generally just doing the very best they can, for their kids and for themselves. They have a bunch of balls in the air at any one time, and usually they take these kinds of short cuts because it’s simpler and easier, and because it helps to retain their sanity.
Also, once you have kids, smaller things don’t seem quite as important anymore, including your own appearance and what other people are thinking about you.
Now when I see any mother doing one of these things, I give them a mental fist-bump and silently commend them on the great job they are doing. Because I know now what they are going through, I am one of them.