It’s oldest’s birthday today. Somehow or other, he’s eight years old already. This, of course, means that I’ve been a parent for the same amount of time. As I mentioned in yesterday’s rather silly post, I’ve changed a lot since then.
Here, then, are eight important life lessons I’ve learned in eight years of parenting.
You weren’t truly tired before having kids
I used to think I was tired before children were on the scene. I knew nothing! The exhaustion is something else. We have three kids and the middle one didn’t sleep through the night until he was four. So we’ve been sleep deprived for eight years and counting. I actually feel out of sorts on the odd days when everyone sleeps through now. But conversely…
You can achieve much with little or no sleep
While sleep deprivation is horrible, you quickly get used to it. In fact, you learn to do everything, including all the new parenting skills, with little to no rest. And, even when you feel like a zombie, people don’t always notice.
It’s okay to wing it
There’s a reason that the lists expectant parents bring to the delivery room are more commonly known as ‘birth preferences’ than ‘birth plans’. Very little goes to plan from day one! With that in mind, I think it’s okay to take things as they come and learn on your feet. As long as you have a rough idea of what to expect with each stage of parenthood, improvising is fine.
Mistakes are good for you
I felt awful after my first big parenting fail. For the record, I accidentally hit oldest’s head on a door frame when lifting him up to perform a sniff test on his nappy. I’ve made plenty more mistakes since then and have learned to embrace them. After all, if you don’t mess up now and then, you’re never going to learn anything.
And for your kids
It can be hard to allow your kids to make mistakes that you know will upset them, but you must. Even if it goes against your instincts. Protecting them from feeling sad about getting something wrong won’t help them in the long run.
Kids are actually quite easy to please
They’re quite happy to have the same thing for breakfast or lunch every day and will merrily watch the same episodes of favourite TV shows again and again. They don’t need expensive days out every week – quality time with you is what matters.
Keep calm and carry on
I used to be like the proverbial headless chicken when things went awry. ‘Panic’ wasn’t the word. I was hopeless. Having kids has transformed me on this front. We’ve had scares with all three of them and been to A&E more than once. As a result, I’m the picture of calm in alarming situations now.
Good enough is fine
Trying to keep up with the Joneses is an act of futility. Why? Because they don’t exist! Social media has exacerbated the human error that is trying to live the perfect lives we perceive others as having. But, whoever these Jones folk are, remember you’re only seeing what they want you to see. They’ve been covered in puke, poo and pee too. Being a good enough parent will do.
Which life lessons has parenting taught you?