Five things I’m still not used to as a parent

I'm still not used to this! Three children running in different directions as their father tries to catch up with the nearest.

I’ve now been a parent for nine years so have experienced many highs and lows along the way. You may think that, after this long, the capacity for surprise would be somewhat limited.

However, I’ve realised that there are a fair few things that I’m still not used to as a parent…

Having three children

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Being outnumbered by smaller versions of ourselves still feels decidedly odd. Even now we’re three and a half years into said existence.

The hardest part as far as I’m concerned is the zonal marking. We manage, of course, but it’s so much trickier than our previous tactic of marshalling one child each. As the picture above illustrates.

The end of the school year

It’s relentless, isn’t it? The kids are all visibly exhausted but there’s still so much to cram into the last few weeks. There’s sports week, transition week – not knocking that, by the way; it’s a great idea – and endless PFA-organised fundraising events.

Then there’s the anticipation of end-of-year reports and assemblies including Star Of The Year and the debacle of attendance awards. The teachers have my utmost respect and really bloody earn that six-week break!

Rude awakenings

I’m well used to sleep deprivation. Aside from a window of a few months between oldest starting to sleep through and his younger brother being born, I’ve had almost nine solid years of it. It’s the being woken up part that still catches me off guard.

Every night, youngest wakes up and makes her way into our bed. And this is the specific bit I’m still not used to. She sprints down the corridor in the dark, sometimes whining. It’s like something out of a particularly creepy horror film.

Kids’ negotiation skills

Oldest and youngest are frankly brilliant at doing things on their terms. Youngest’s bedtime, for example, is a masterclass in negotiation. Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy is often cited as being notoriously difficult to get the better of at the negotiating table, but he’s got nothing on her.

I usually end up trudging downstairs, bewildered and impressed in equal measure at the demands I’ve agreed to in order to be allowed to eat my evening meal.

Being perceived as knowing what I’m doing

I’ve always been open on here about the fact that I’ve been winging it as a parent since day one. It’s an approach that has enabled me to learn from mistakes and become calmer as a person too. Whenever I encounter a new parenting milestone, I’m making things up as I go along.

My children, of course, don’t see things this way. They assume I know what I’m doing and, somewhat hilariously, that I’m faultless. I refer you to these incidents, kids. It’s nice, of course, and shows that they have unconditional love for me, but I’m not sure how I feel about being perceived as knowing what I’m doing!

Which elements of parenting are you still not used to?


  1. John Adams

    Oh negotiation skills. That does my head in. Especially if more than one adult is involved who is a bit more liberal than you. Things then go very wrong. Great list Tom.

  2. Justin Hewart

    One aspect of parenting I don’t think I’ll ever get used to is knowing what to do with my time when my boy goes away with his mum for a week like he just has done (I have to stay home for work). I always think I will be glad of the break but within a couple of hours, I realise how quiet the house is and miss him like mad.

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