They say being a parent doesn’t come with a handbook, but that’s not strictly true; there are hundreds out there.
Despite devouring several of them over the years, I have made some errors in judgement that I’d like to share with you so that maybe you can learn from my mistakes.
I was struggling to get our three year old to wear sun-cream; it was basically like wrestling a crocodile, and since it was summer I was doing this multiple times daily and getting increasingly fed up. So I explained to him about sun burn and why sun cream is important. He asked to see pictures, so I said – of course! I did a image search for “sun burnt children” and showed him some pretty terrible pictures of kids with burns. It worked… a little too well. He started asking for sun cream on rainy days. He started requested sun-cream inside. He asked for sun-cream at bedtime. I never had to wrestle him again, but I’m pretty sure I traumatised him in the process.
Our first (and only) holiday abroad with a child I packed so much stuff we had to pay an exorbitant amount in overweight luggage fees and we barely used any of it. Our six month old lived in a little vest the whole holiday, I was breastfeeding; ultimately we barely needed to bring a thing. And yet we did – we brought all of the things. We weighed the plane down with the things we had brought. Here’s a great tip – other countries have children too. It’s actually very unlikely you’ll encounter a situation where you can’t access what you need in a pinch.
The first time I ever went swimming with my first born I put him in these tiny little trunks, no top at all, and every single one of the other babies were in full thermal wet suits. He started shivering of course, and much to my shame and embarrassment we had to cut the lesson short. And then once we’d got out I got him completely dry, warm and dressed and he started crying, so I picked him up for a cuddle in my sopping wet swimming costume. He was instantly damp, and I didn’t have a spare baby-grow. I’d also packed shampoo, hair conditioner and shower gel, like I used to for swimming in the before-baby times. When did I think I’d be showering and washing my hair?! I didn’t seem to factor the baby into that scenario at all.
Another big mistake I would like to warn you against is being hungover at a kid’s party. The level of noise and chaos is a lot to handle at the best of times, throw in a monster hangover and you are in for a rough day. Especially if the party is at a soft play. Especially if you don’t know anyone well enough to confide in and watch your child while you sit in the corner for a bit with a strong coffee. There is something about the gaudy, bright, sweaty, germ-ridden stench of a soft play that can tip you over the edge. Avoid this mistake at all costs, trust me.
Some parenting mistakes are really common like running out of wipes or nappies or snacks. Hitting your child’s head getting them in the car seat is one we have all done, and if you say you haven’t; you’re lying. Nappy changing disasters is a right of passage. Forgetting the pram, forgetting a towel, forgetting the potty, forgetting your purse, forgetting how to talk to adults. Its a steep learning curve and one I imagine continues; my kids are four and two and I’m sure I have a lot of mistakes to come. But as my very wise sister-in-law noted; if you’re worried about mistakes, and learning from them, and laughing about them – you’re doing alright. We muddle through the best we can and try not to mess the kids up too much in the process.
And trust me on the soft play hangovers.