We all know the cliche’s, we hear all the ‘advice’ and we read all the relevant books but nothing can prepare you for having a child and the joys of parenthood until you experience it firsthand. From here you learn that some of those tips were true… for instance, get your sleep whilst you can, as annoying as it may sound. However, there are many that never even cross others’ lips. Now I don’t know if this is because they don’t wanna worry you or if it’s simply because they have forgotten it or more likely that they have blocked it from their minds for all eternity!
Whatever the reason I have come to notice certain areas that I think do need highlighting even if it’s just to hear that I’m not going through half of this alone. So, if you think you have more please do share them with me in the comments.
The First Year
The most infuriating thing you will hear in this first year is that ‘it gets easier’. Oh if I had a pound for everytime someone said this to me… It does not get easier, in actual fact, it gets harder! A newborn just sleeps and feeds and can be cuddled a lot. They grow and they begin to move, they begin to teethe, they start to eat on their own, their nappies become more gross and very soon they will be walking, talking and destroying your house… oh, and they still won’t sleep! So cherish those early moments.
Baby Groups– You will either love them or hate them. They do vary but the regular play groups will have their cliques and you will end up feeling like you are back in the school playground again. If you aren’t feeling it, don’t feel guilty just move on to another group until you find one which fits with you.
Teething– I know I talk about teething a lot but my god I wish somebody had told me how bad it could get. With all the information we are given I still cannot believe that teething is overlooked.
Weaning– baby led weaning, pureed food, homemade food, ice cubed food… my god this is a baffling time. Do your research here. I had no idea about baby led weaning and I do wonder if I would have a less fussy eater now had I tried more foods from an earlier age.
Pushing the boundaries– This will come up time and time again and just when you think they have stopped in one area they will start in a new one. As they grow they will find a new way to test you.
There are no boundaries for your love- this is true throughout their lives and as you enter a new stage you will find a new need they require from you but each time your love won’t care if it’s to clean up vomit, poo, wee, to mop their brows throughout the night and so on. Jessica from Beauties and the Bibs says:
″When they are poorly you will do whatever it takes to make them better. Even if it does mean letting them
vomit all down you just because they want a cuddle at the same time.″
Sleep– or lack of… and this is not only restricted to this age group, this can continue for years to come. Jenny from Accidental Hipster Mum says:
″No one tells you that when you put your kid to bed, it very rarely sticks after just one attempt. Just when you think you’ve cracked it, they regress!″
Willies– Yep, you read it right we need to talk willies because no one ever tells you how early a boy discovers his! They will pull them so hard you won’t believe how far it will stretch without hurting, they will love to play with them and the bath is the best place for this! Be prepared to say ‘leave it alone’ quite a lot.
The Second Year
The terrible two’s do not start from the age of 2, whoever named this stage has it way off. They tend to start around 16-18 months and suddenly your cute baby has turned into a little tantrumming monster.
Potty training– you will either get on and do it and have it work within a week or your child will have other ideas. Faye from Glossytots says:
″potty training is worse than ANY sleepless night. Erin used to wee herself on purpose if I told her no!!″
Headstrong Girls– I have no experience of this but I have seen a determined girl tantrum for hours over something she wanted. Boys have far shorter attention spans for this and will forget after 30 seconds of being on the floor! Alice from Living With a Jude currently has a 22-month-old and says:
″At 22 months I can no longer choose Emmeline’s clothes for her. Elsa was the same. She knows her own mind and I think it’s amazing as I want her to grow into her own unique person but my GOD can it be a slow process getting dressed in the morning…″
The battle of getting them dressed– this is the year when they will spend every morning running away and fighting you every time an item of clothing is trying to be placed on their body. You will get very frustrated but look at the positive, you will also get very fit!
Nakedness– We didn’t get many beach photo’s from last year that could be shown to anyone as Jake spent most of the time stark naked. He would remove his clothing as soon as we hit the beach, which did mean he ended up with an enviable tan.
Nappies– These are not always toddler proof… Kayley Anne from Friendly First Foods tells me of her experience:
″One day your toddler would decide to try and change their own nappy and you’d walk in the room to find poo EVERYWHERE!!″
T.V.– you will wake in the morning singing theme tunes and always the most annoying ones- Timmy the bloody sheep. You will also use the T.V. as your babysitter and if you don’t? Well, are you really human?!
Naps– This is the age when late naps can cause chaos for your bedtime routine. How many of us have opened windows, turned the radio up and repeatedly said ‘DO NOT fall asleep’ whilst driving the car?!
The Third Year
The year of the questions. Why? How did that get in there/over there/on that house…? How? Where? What? And this will go on and on. Be prepared to learn how to nod and agree and make a lot of shit up to keep them happy.
Destruction mode– I’m not sure if girls go through this stage but we have just hit this ourselves and everything in the garden is being slowly destroyed depending on how much he can get away with. It is mostly by covering everything in mud but my goodness he is not listening to anything we say. It is like the boundary is being pushed at a brand new level.
Answering back– You may have heard of the phrase ‘threenager’ and this is precisely why they get this label. Jake has just started to stand up to me and answer back which he of course thinks is hilarious.
Lying– Around this age your little cherubs suddenly discover the art of a lie. Sam from Mouse, Moo and Me Too says:
″The stage where they start to lie to you for fun is 1. Really annoying 2. Quite unnerving with what they can conjure up!″
Talking- The stage of verbal diarrhoea! Suzanne from And another ten things tells me this about talking:
″When they talk it is just one stream of consciousness from morning until night and unless you keep up you end up unknowingly agreeing to all sorts of crap. Throw in a scouse accent that neither you or your husband have and you’ve got no chance of understanding them!″
Swear Words– Watch your potty mouth small ears are listening and swear words are by far the easiest to say according to any child!
Silence is never golden– If this chatterbox goes quiet, be afraid, be very afraid! Jake can now move the chairs around the kitchen to get into the cupboard where the nice treats are kept and also the fridge… I caught him helping himself just last week!
Bribery– If you have one more mouthful you can have pudding, if you don’t stop messing around we won’t go out, if you just go to this shop with Mummy I will buy you a treat, if you just SIT in this damn trolley I will get some sweets… believe me, these will come out of your mouth!
The Fourth Year
School places– no one can prepare you for this stage. Faith from Raising Moonbows has been going through this experience and told me this:
″The whole choosing and applying for school places can be so stressful. Then you have the wait which makes you nervous because you have your heart set on one but you have to wait to find out if they got it.″
The wait for school– Quite often we wonder if 4/5 is too young to start school but this is the age where we often see a child becoming more difficult and frustrated as they are lacking the stimulation they need. Kayleigh told me of her experience:
″I remember the summer before Evie started school, she was 4 almost five, was really difficult. She was so frustrated with everything. She wasn’t being challenged enough at nursery but had to wait to start school, it was a struggle getting her to wind down for bed, she had a bad attitude and just nothing would calm her down. When she started school she was like a new person, although the first couple of weeks were an adjustment she was so much happier!″
The school upset– Your kiddies may be ok trotting off into school but it may affect you differently… take plenty of tissues during that first week or if you are anything like Laura from Five Little Doves perhaps get the bus:
″No-one told me just how heartbreaking it would be when your child started school. I always thought that I would be ready to get some me time back, but when my eldest started school I cried that hard I crashed my car on the drive home! NOBODY told me that!!″
The attitudes– I think these just develop to new levels at each age. Lindsay from Newcastle Family Life told me:
″Four-year-olds can have huge attitudes and turn into little divas when they don’t get their own way″
Politeness– Apparently this goes out the window! Franki from Wonderful Chaos says:
″The first three years of parenting and raising them into polite well-rounded children is pretty pointless as it’s all undone once they start school.″
The Fifth Year
Attitude– I have all this to come but Kayleigh from Candyfloss and Dreams says:
″The attitude and sassy behaviour of a five-year-old honestly I never expected it and I don’t think anything can prepare you for the way they speak to you! Especially as they get older and understand words can be really hurtful!″
Homework– When we were at school homework wasn’t introduced until secondary school but prepare yourselves to have to get crafty from the first year! Alice told me:
″At four and five they start bringing homework back from school that is actually a challenge for the parent. I think my most memorable with Elsa (aged 5) was to build a copy of their favourite building from household materials. I left it to my mum and she somehow made a cardboard house out of a shoe box that Elsa then painted.″
Questioning– Faye told me:
″They never told me my kid would ask questions like “how much do you know about Sartasm (sarcasm!) or the fact she questions LIFE at 5!″
Teeth– No sooner do they get their teeth they can then start to lose them from the age of 5. Erica from The Incidental Parent says:
″Big L is 5 and has started losing teeth. Today he lost his second and I’ve had to “finish off” both of them – not for the faint hearted. No one warned me that they wouldn’t just drop out.Then you have the tooth fairy who, by the way, leaves letters these days…. No pressure!″
Social Life– Your child’s social calendar will be twice as busy as yours and your weekends will be taken over by birthday parties… save your pennies!
When they learn to spell so no conversation is private– Kate from counting to ten says:
″Secret conversations with your partner get harder when they learn to spell. You go from asking where the “I.P.A.D” is to, “Where’s the device designed by Steve Jobs?”
Time with your other half– We often forget ourselves and each other during these early years. Life becomes busy and hectic and you now have little people to always put first. Zoe from Lycra Widow puts it so well:
″People don’t tell you how much you will miss your husband, (because time together was taken for granted before kids!) but at the same time, they don’t tell you how you will fall in love all over again when you watch hubby with the children!″
Do you have any to add?