A friend who is pregnant with her first child asked me recently what advice I wished I’d been given before I had kids. Everyone’s different and what works for one family won’t work for another. So I guess we really all need to figure it out for ourselves. But for what it’s worth here are the top five bits of advice I’ve been given over the last seven years. What are yours?
1. Save your money for something else
Thanks to a friend – a practical down-to-earth country girl – who had a one-year old when we got pregnant. She recommended instead of an expensive pram/car seat combination, to go with a basic umbrella stroller. Suitable for a newborn it took both our kids through to when they were four.
It was also thanks to her philosophy that we bought a plastic portable highchair for around $30. Easy to wipe down, easy to transport. Once again it lasted both our children through their highchair years.
By now we were in the swing of it – a $22 double pram bought off ebay filled in that year when we needed to cart both kids around together. It wasn’t pretty but it did the job – and saved us literally hundreds of dollars by not going with a more stylish model.
2. Don’t worry, it’s only normal
Thanks to the same friend – a recommendation to read Baby Love by Robin Barker, an Australian midwife. Ah, Baby Love, my bible, my saviour. It seemed in the early days no matter what we looked up – flushed cheeks, spots on tongue, dislike of bath – Robin was there telling us, “Don’t worry, it’s only normal”. As the kids grew up we moved on to The Mighty Toddler, Robin’s follow up book, and full of the same sensible, practical, down-to-earth advice.
3. Having your injections is like buying milk
Thanks to our first maternal health nurse in England who recommended immunisations are downplayed and given the same level of importance as popping to the shops to buy some milk. As a result we’ve never made a big deal of immunisations and neither have the kids.
4. If your child is licking the floor there is no point sterilising the bottles
A friend – also a GP which I think gives her extra credibility when offering advice – declared when her daughter was five months old, “Once she started licking the floor I decided there wasn’t much point sterilising the bottles”. I think the main message to take away from this bit of advice is, relaaaaaax.
5. The days are long, but the years are short
I heard this saying recently and it completely sums up what I’ve know deep inside since those first days of having my son home from the hospital. The minutes before my husband got home from work, bobbing up and down with a tired and grumpy – but not sleepy – baby. Literally counting the seconds until I could have a break. They were long, long, long days. But then where did that first year go? And the subsequent six years?
(As an aside, a quick google to find the origins of this quote was inconclusive but unearthed this other gem: Inside every old person, is a young person saying ‘what the hell just happened?’)
‘The days are long, but the years are short’ has stuck with me ever since I heard it. As the night-time routine rolls around – again – and I feel my voice getting louder, my patience wearing thinner, and my desire for a bit of peace and quiet getting more urgent, I am making a real effort to remind myself that one day I’m going to look back and wish I could have it all over again.