It’s fair to say that mums and dads learn a bunch of stuff every single day. The bad news for my blogging career is that a significant percentage of this new knowledge is unprintable and another sizeable chunk of it is mundane. The good news is that some of it is neither of the above. So where does that leave us? It leaves us with this week’s Midweek List, which is all about the things mums and dads learn in the first few months. If you’re a mummy or daddy, prepare to nod along in agreement. If you’re not, get ready to enter a brave new world.
1. The importance of 20 minutes
“Of course I’ll be there on time. Of course, I understand how crucial it is that my nephew gets in his car seat at 1.45pm on the dot.” Naturally, I was lying to my sister. Obviously, I got there late. And of course my nephew kicked off. In my defence, up until 11 months ago I had no idea that a paltry third of an hour could be the difference between driving Dr Jekyll and chauffeuring Mr Hyde. Now, I’m all over that shizzle. Which admittedly doesn’t help my sister. But she stuck a sticker on the crown of my hair when I was two, so you reap what you sow and all that.
2. The horror of sleep training
When I first heard the expression ‘sleep training’, I imagined fun bonding sessions where baby and I synchronised our eye-rubbing techniques, learned how to elaborately yawn, and smiled before lying down on the mattress and heading off to the Land of Nod. How wrong can one guy be? On the advice of a few close friends, we selected the Ferber Method. There are some intricacies to this programme, but when push comes to shove it essentially involves getting your kid to cry himself or herself to sleep. Happily, the length of time our little one wailed for reduced each night and end result was extremely successful. Unhappily, we had to watch him cry, which was the living embodiment of hell.
3. The sheer genius of Calpol
This is something mums and dads learn very quickly. And if you don’t believe me, ask Michael McIntyre.
4. What goes on behind the baby change door
During my time as a young and free singleton, I naively believed that baby change facilities were clean, well-lit and well-stocked, and that the parents who went into these rooms were in total command of their offspring at all times. Now, having gone through numerous complete outfit changes and experienced more personal disasters than I care to remember, I know the sweat-inducing, nostril-assaulting, psyche-scarring truth. Spoiler alert: it’s not pretty. And it will require you to treble-wash your hands.
5. The pride you feel when you’re informed that your son or daughter is on the 95th centile
Up yours, runt babies. We’ve created a monster.
6. The power of a monologue
‘I thought we were friends. I really thought we had a connection. And then you go and do this. How could you? And not just that. How could you do it and then laugh about it afterwards? Well, what do you have to say for yourself? Goo goo? Gaa gaa? Go on, then. Bang the mirror, stamp your feet and chuck the soap on the floor. But ask yourself this: does it make you really and truly happy?‘
Stuart Hood, Nappy Change 5, 4.13pm, January 8
7. The performance capabilities of different brands of petroleum jelly
Can you believe that childless me used to think that a petroleum jelly (read: Vaseline) was a petroleum jelly was a petroleum jelly? What a fool he was. Dad me is acutely aware that some of these identically named products leave pesky chunks when we attempt to rub them into our son’s skin, while others glide in gloriously. He is also acutely aware that entries like this may be the reason he is no longer invited on nights out.
8. The uplift you get when someone asks how you are doing
That’s how you are doing. Not your baby. YOU.
9. The superhuman strength of a baby’s grip
Babies: so sweet and innocent until… they lock one of their talons onto your torso. If I had to rank my little man’s selection of death grabs from most to least painful, I’d say: nipple, cheek, nose, ear, neck, leg. If I had to offer one piece of advice to ultra-new parents, I’d say: do your skin a favour and cut your little cherub’s nails at least once a week. And if I had to regale you with my most embarrassing story involving baby’s hand clamps, I’d say: one morning he pulled my pyjamas down to my ankles in full view of the kitchen window. No, I was not wearing any underwear. And yes, the postman was walking past.
10. That somehow or other all mums and dads learn the words to ‘Wind The Bobbin Up‘
Wind the bobbin up, wind the bobbin up. Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap. Wind it back again, wind it back again. Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap. Point to the ceiling, point to the floor. Point to the window, point to the door. Clap your hands together, 1, 2, 3. Put your hands upon your knee. Hey parents, you just did the actions while reading that, didn’t you?
And… we’re done. List over. Post over. Learning about the stuff mums and dads learn over. If you enjoyed it, please have a gander at some of the 200+ other parenting advice and entertainment post I’ve written. If you didn’t, please send me a detailed email around how I can improve next week.
Until next time…