Parenting truths revealed: 8 things all parents do (but will never admit to)


Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, this week’s Midweek List proudly brings to you, the parenting truths, the whole parenting truths and nothing but the parenting truths. Okay, so this isn’t entirely true. It’s me. So there will obviously be the odd weird admission and random, meandering story mixed in with these truths. But take these out and you’ll be left with a fact-packed journalistic behemoth that has the potential to shake parenting to its very core (duh, duh. duh).

That’s right, folks. Like the guy who exposed Richard Nixon’s wiretapping by smoking and speaking in a gravelly voice in a public car park, I’m going to put my annual soft play and country park memberships on the line to reveal what really goes on when parents think no-one else is watching. Is this wise? Probably not. Will the wider parenting community, including my wife, shun me? Almost definitely. But if I can make one reader nod in acknowledgement and another half-smile it’ll be worth it. Thus without further ado I bring you, 8 things that all parents do (but will never admit to).

1. Use the 5-second rule when baby throws his or her cutlery on the floor

Before you call social services or graffiti the word monster on my garage door, I should explain that this isn’t a daily occurrence and it did not happen during week one, two, three or four of weaning. Blood pressure returning to somewhere near its normal level? Great, then I’ll continue. Like you, I have good intentions when it comes to cleanliness. But also like you, sometimes, when I’m covered in porridge, running off four hours sleep and sick of walking to the tap with the same spoon over and over again, I chuck these good intentions out the window in favour of shouting “5-second rule”, lifting the spoon up, giving it a lick and getting straight back down to business.

2. Pretend to be asleep

Sometimes I wish BBC Radio 5 Live would commentate on Saturday mornings in our house. If they did, it would go something like this: “It’s Saturday, it’s 6am and baby’s waking up. There is the first groan. Usually that’s enough to get mummy or daddy out of bed, but this morning they silently check the clock, reposition themselves and re-shut their eyes. Neither ever sleeps in this position, but it’s okay because the other parent is too busy pretending to be asleep to catch them out. Wah. Another trademark groan from the nursery, and this one is accompanied by the toss of a soft toy onto the floor. He clearly wants attention, but still the fake sleep off continues in the bedroom.

“It’s a fascinating battle of the minds. Which parent will snap first? Still no movement, so it’s back to the nursery where the bubby is now standing up and repeatedly saying “hiya”. It’s an ultra-cute vocal display that’s surely going to break one of our competitors. And it has. Mummy is sitting up, but she isn’t going quietly. ‘It’s your turn,’ she says to daddy, while poking him in the ribs. He attempts another fake snore, but it’s not fooling anybody. Another poke to the ribs should be enough, and it is. He’s moaning, but he’s up. Sleep off over. And it’s another win for mummy.”

3. Exaggerate the contents of a nappy

On a scale of one to pretending you have Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease so you can stay home and watch the final day of the Premier League season; this is a little brown parental lie that doesn’t really hurt anyone but your partner. The keys to pulling it off are as follows.

Do not overuse it – the more you cry “really heinous and smelly poop” the more suspicious your partner will be.

Do not overplay your hand – smell and size cannot be contested after the event, but spread can. In other words, if it really did break out all over his leg, where are the poopy clothes?

Do not use it in a situation where your partner would expect you to use it – if you play the “my eyes, my eyes, I will never be able to unsee what happened in there” card while doing something you love your nearest and dearest may smell a rat. If, however, you try it when doing something your partner loves he or she will be far less wary of your intentions.

And, finally, do allow your partner to play this trick on you – a parent who feels guilty about shirking nappy duties is a parent who is more likely to allow their partner the same privilege.

4. Flaunt nursery rules

Obviously, none of us want to spread an infection around the local kiddy community. But show me a parent who doesn’t sponge the crust out of their little one’s eye before rushing them to the nursery door and pretending nothing’s wrong, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t needed at work and hasn’t paid for the day up front.

5. Swear in front of their child

“My son? Using foul language? I am shocked and appalled. He must have picked it up from one of those rough mums at the community centre. Or that tramp who sits outside the post office. Or that person who threw a fit when the supermarket manager wouldn’t let him return those out of date garlic mushrooms. {Ring, ring}. Sorry, it’s the builder, I better take this. Where the ***”!* are you? You said you’d be here last week and now the mirror is hanging off the ****?>* wall and the ****?!!!@* shower is leaking. 10am? Fine. See you then. Right, where were we? Oh yes, trying to find out who taught our son rude words.”

6. Judge other parents

I used to play a lot of golf. My mates and I would jump in the car on a Sunday morning, pitch up at whichever course in London had a tee time and spend the next five-to-six hours moaning about how it took five-to-six hours to play a round of golf. Who was to blame for this snail-like progress? Clearly it was the group in front. Although if you spoke to them, they’d blame the group in front of them, who would subsequently blame the group in front of them.

Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this partly because I promised you a random, meandering story in the intro, and partly because I believe parents treat judging each other the same way that golfers treat slow play. In other words, we’re all perfectly happy to blame the problem on other people, but loathed to hold up our hands and admit some level of culpability. Hold on. Is he saying that he judges other parents? Yes, of course I do. I critique the way they dress, play, deal with issues, pick up their child and numerous other things ALL THE TIME. And do you know what? As much as you might hate to admit it. So do you. And you. And you. And, yes, even you.

7. The thing they always get on the other parent’s back for doing

In my wife’s case, this involves her going to town on me for daring to Tweet about the vomit on my leg when our son is within a 15-metre radius of my mobile, waiting for 20 minutes and then brazenly using her phone to answer an ultra-important Whatsapp in front of our child (apparently it’s allowed because “it’s totally different”). In my case, this involves me chastising my wife for allowing my son to get out of his high chair and wander around when he’s having dinner, waiting 24 hours and then freeing him from his elevated prison at the first sign of resistance (it’s allowed because my wife is still at work and doesn’t know).

8. Change the rules to suit their situation

3pm, in public, parents be like: “No, we don’t give milk at night. No, we don’t just use Calpol for the sake of it. No, we don’t let him co-sleep.” 3am, in private, parents be like: “Take the nipple, glug this syringe, grab some duvet and get involved.”



  1. No joke–one time my husband and I actually hid under the covers from our kids on a Saturday morning. Our daughter came in the room to look for us, then left. We heard her tell her siblings, “They’re not in there.”

    • Amazing. I remember when our son was little and still sleeping in our room. We used to scramble and hide on the other side of the bed if we noticed his eyes opening. Not sure what we hoped to achieve, as he never went back to sleep, but it was a fairly ridiculous sight.

      • Haha! Yes! There have been times that I tried to sneak into a kid’s room at night (like to put away laundry or something). If they started to stir, I’d dive behind furniture or try to hop out the door. It never worked for me either.

  2. Haha this hits the nail on the head! Full disclosure: I’ve done all of those. I even wrote about my daughter dropping F-bombs! And the “pretending to be asleep” thing is a competition of the wills…whoever can pretend to play dead the longest, wins.

  3. My kids are older and I still pretend sleep when I don’t feel like dealing. Shhh and it might get quiet again.

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