What not to say to a new parent

tired mum baby
tired mum baby 

Before becoming a parent I admit that I was a parenting expert. You only had to ask me a parenting question and I would, without doubt, know the answer. I simply knew everything there was to know, and had a set list of rules in my head that I promised myself I would adhere to once my very own parenting journey began.

Of course, like with the majority of things, the reality is rather different. Fast forward a few years and, upon becoming a parent, I may as well have thrown out those rulings along with the afterbirth. 

Because, yes, I used a dummy. Yes, I often co slept with my son. Yes, I rocked him to sleep, and, yes, I jumped to attend to him every time he cried.  

Since he has become a toddler, yes, I have let him watch hours of TV, yes, I have fed him chocolate and chips, and yes, I have shouted at him in public when he was, quite simply, driving me nuts. Yes, yes, yes.

So what have I learnt from all of this? Well, in all honestly, I have learnt that perhaps I didn’t know everything I thought I needed to about parenting after all, and, for the record to all you ‘not yet’ parents ... nor do you. We still don't have all the answers once we have kids!

On that note, here's a list of questions and comments that I was guilty of saying, but now know oh so much better.

Don’t let the baby take over your life

Ha! When I think about this now I just cringe in embarrassment. Just the idea of not letting a baby take over your life is laughable enough - take over your life is EXACTLY what they do. 

From the moment you hold that baby in your arms you are catapulted into a long, never ending tunnel of the unknown and, for the first few months, at the very least, your whole being and world is orbiting around this little person. 

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Not to mention of course the fact that, in between nappy changing, feeding, settling, and trying to catch enough sleep to survive, there really is little time left in your life for much else anyhow! 

Just let the baby scream

So much easier said than done when the baby is not yours right? When there is no emotional attachment to a child, and you know full well that you can walk away at any time without a slither of responsibility to that little being, sure you can let them cry. 

But try doing it when the new baby is yours and that hyper sensitive new mum alert has no ‘off’ switch as yet to the crying of your child. That cry will not only pull on your heart strings, but automatically send you into panic mode that all manner of horrific things might happen to your baby if you don’t rush to the rescue. 

Is your baby not sleeping yet? Have you tried XYZ?

Really, this is quite a stupid question to ask most new mums - let’s be honest, if they haven’t had any sleep for weeks on end, you can be assured they've tried every trick in every baby book, time and time again, in the hope of getting just an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep. In fact, come to think of it, I was very brave to ever ask a sleep deprived friend this question.

My friend/cousin/sister is such a natural and their baby is SO good

Quite frankly, any new mum does NOT want to hear this. The reality is that no one is a ‘natural’ mum, and there is no such thing as a good or bad baby. 

Sure, some of us mould better to parenthood quicker than others, and there are certainly babies that may be considered easier than others. But still, the reality is that parenthood is a massive learning curve for us all, and in a world where we can very quickly become filled with doubts and insecurities about our parenting abilities, it’s actually nicer to know that others also struggle, rather than succeed ... in a slightly twisted way. 

Why don’t you just relax your routine a little?

If there’s one thing I have learnt as a mum it’s that more often than not, short-term pain results in long-term gain. Plus, there's no denying that children really do respond well to routine.

So while there is no doubt that poking your eyes out with needles may well feel preferable some nights to undertaking the same old, same old, bedtime routine, the truth is, it works. And let’s face it, if sticking to routine at times like these means you can do the routine with a big glass of wine, it's worth every painful minute.

I had the BEST weekend out, shame you couldn’t come!

Adjusting to parenthood is, without a doubt, one of the hardest things in the world. You can initially feel like you have totally lost yourself, and there is many a time when you have more than a hankering for the ‘old’ you. The old you that was able to be totally selfish and irresponsible, the results of which would bear no brunt on anyone other than you. 

So, hold back on the stories of fun and debauchery for the time being, and spare a thought for mum whose weekend definitely saw her up all night ... but, sadly, for totally different reasons to you. 

What would you add to the list? What's the most annoying parenting advice you've been given? Share in the comments below. 

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