What the parenting manuals don’t tell you

NOW I’ve been at this mothering lark for some time now and I can pretty much say, with confidence, that the parenting manuals are rubbish.

I have learnt far more from talking to other mothers than I have from advice written by a self-proclaimed parenting guru who doesn’t even have children. I binned those parenting books years ago - they bring nothing but pain and, crikey, I have enough of that around suicide bedtime hour. Parenting manuals exist just to make you feel worse than you did before you read it and I, for one, certainly don’t need that extra help in feeling like a crappy mum.

The thing that frustrates me the most about the key parenting manuals is that none of them tell the truth. It’s more what not to expect when you’re expecting, because let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a textbook baby. For example, no pregnancy guide told me that I would eat twice my body weight in Haribo and almost give birth to a giant gummy bear. No nursing expert warned me that I would walk around Waitrose with breast milk leaking visibly through my t-shirt. I tell ya, I would have sold my first born to have been given that kind of advice.

So I’ve put together a list of ten things – it’s basically a ‘What The Parenting Manuals Don’t Tell You’ Manual:

1. WHATEVER WORKS.

Don’t listen to anyone. Other people like to give advice (see my column). Sod’em. You’ll figure it out on your own. Do whatever it takes to get you through the day. Just love the kid like you’ve never loved anything and all will be okay, hopefully.

2. YOU WILL HURT YOUR KID.

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I defy you to find me a child who has never rolled off the bed/sofa, had its fingers cut instead of nails, had something dropped on its head, been left in a shop, been fed the wrong thing or had car door slammed on hand.

3. HOURS WILL BE SPENT WRESTLING CHILD INTO CAR SEAT/ BUGGY.

And it will make you want to bash your head against the wall. The only thing that will keep you sane is that when you’re old you can totally get your own back by refusing to get in that wheelchair.

4. THINGS WILL NOT BE WHERE THEY SHOULD BE.

Quite often you will find stuff shoved down your toilet. Your very favourite perfume will no longer be in its bottle. That special bar of chocolate will have mysteriously disappeared. And little clothes and shoes will never ever be put back in their proper place.

5. YOUR BABY IS NOT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL EVER.

In fact your baby is probably quite ugly. And everybody sees that except you. You will only realise this when your child is older and you look back at their baby photos.

6. SOMETIMES YOU WON’T LIKE YOUR OTHER HALF.

You will argue a lot. Most importantly you must always stick to your guns in the Battle of ‘Who Has Slept The Least’. No matter how much you and your partner love each other, you will always feel hate at 4am when you’ve only had 2 hours sleep.

7. BODILY FLUIDS.

You will, at some point, use your hands to catch or wipe your child’s vomit, poo and snot. Often you will have an unidentifiable bodily fluid on your clothing. Sometimes this fluid will also be on or in your body. It’s gross.

8. GUILT.

Parental Guilt Syndrome is a disease you will suffer with from the moment your child is born. It comes from a fear of not doing enough for one’s children. Or when you mess up. Fortunately temporary relief comes from a swift dose of alcohol.

9. THE SPORT OF PARENTING.

The first rule of Competitive Parenting Club is don’t but you will not be able to avoid it – it’s everywhere. The ‘mum-upmanship’ type of comments are usually lies and it’s best to ignore or say “You must be very proud”.

10. YOU WILL ONLY HAVE TEN TOPICS OF CONVERSATION (see above).

You’re welcome.

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