It’s a well known fact that children don’t come with an instruction manual. So, long story short, I thought I’d do the world a favour, and write one. With my years as a Psychologist and extensive research, this should be a well-rounded and informative blog. Shame I threw all that out the window in favour of subjective experience, anecdotal stories from friends, sarcasm and fart jokes. Well, at least it should make you smile, which, lets face it, is half the battle of getting through the day with a small human. I’ve split this blog into two parts – A to M and N to Z. Partially to keep you hooked for my next blog, but mostly because the English alphabet is really frickin long and I have eleventy billion things to do today! Anyway….enjoy!
A is for Advice
Whether you’re a new parent, an experienced parent hitting a new bump in the road, or a parent-to-be, everyone wants to give you advice (whether you ask them to or not). Sometimes this advice is helpful and welcomed with open, snot-covered arms. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, advice is based on other people’s subjective opinions, and opinions are like penises – lots of people have one, but it’s not socially acceptable to wave them around in the vegetable aisle of Adsa. When it comes down to it, kids don’t come with an instruction manual, and what works for some people won’t necessarily work for others. You have to do what works best for you and as much as you may not believe it at the time, there is a maternal instinct within the vast majority of us which serves the evolutionary purpose of keeping our pet humans alive. Believe in yourself – you’ve got this.
B is for Birthdays
And also for “oh B*llocks”, which is many parents’ reactions to the thought of kids’ birthday parties. At this point I’d like to hold my hands up and say “we are bad parents”. Joshua has been invited to two birthday parties from nursery so far and has attended neither of them. This is not because we haven’t wanted or allowed him to; it’s simply because the invite has been hidden in the nursery bag under several layers of spare clothes (some of which are his and some I’m sure are from lost property, unless pink frilly knickers are secretly his thing…each to their own) and forgotten about until the deadline for RSVP has well passed. At this point you have to make a choice to either contact the parent and be that person who tries to wangle their way in after the party bags have already been purchased and the softplay cafe has already been booked for 10 children, and know that you will secretly be talked about between the other mums as the reason for having to change the seating plan at last moment; or you contact the parent with some made-up excuse about being on holiday that weekend and hope you remember to keep your child indoors so as not be caught red handed in the ball pit of Jungletastic. Or, you could do what we did (twice!) and retrieve the invite, put it on the kitchen side so we would DEFINITELY remember to reply and then find it 3 weeks later under a pile of utility bills, takeaway flyers and an Ikea circular addressed to Mr Dennison (who hasn’t live at this address since 1997), whilst desperately looking for that last packet of baby wipes because Joshua has dropped a big one and is threatening to get off the toilet and help me look for toilet roll. In the end we took the cowards approach and ignored the fact that we ever got a party invite.
I feel super bad about this, not only because we may be depriving our son of attending social events and forming friendship bonds, but also because if we decide to have a party for Joshua’s 3rd birthday in the summer, there’s going to be sod all people there! It might be for the best, as quite frankly the idea of holding a birthday party for a room full of kids, siblings & parents that I don’t know is terrifying! I feel like if we did so, it would have to be a venue with booze, like a garden party or creche attached to a gin distillery.
C is for Conniption
Defined as “a fit of hysterical excitement or anger”, conniption is basically a fancy word for tantrum, of which children have many! Tantrums can be brought on by anything and, at the same time, absolutely frickin nothing. As toddlers go, I feel we have been quite lucky with Joshua, as on the scale of zero to mental, he usually sits at about a 5 for magnitude and a 4 for frequency. If there was a Eurovision contest for tantrums, we’d be the Netherlands, somewhere in the middle. The tantrums are usually set off by the “I want to do it myself” argument, in which he will not accept help with anything from anyone. Not only does this make life inexplicably slow when you’re waiting for a toddler to put his on shoes in every variation of wrong, but it also makes some arguments impossible to win, for example when he wants to drive the van himself or you make the mistake of flushing the toilet before he gets to and are faced with the insurmountable task of magicking the turd back into the bowl. But, this independence stage is a very normal part of toddlerdom. It’s the more random and outright frickin ridiculous reasons for an outburst that blow my mind. Here are Joshua’s top 10 reasons to tantrum recently:
- I can’t find my eyebrows
- My eyes are soft
- My feet don’t come off
- The cat won’t let me blow his bottom
- You took the plaster off in bed last night (we don’t have any plasters and I was working a night shift so wasn’t even there)
- My socks match (valid point – life’s too short for matching socks)
- I can’t see my eyes
- When I grow up I want to be a potato
- Sammy looked at me
- Sammy didn’t look at me
(Sammy’s the cat btw)
D is for Destruction
According to Christian faith, God created the world in 7 days. A toddler could destroy it in 7 seconds. Toddlers are destructive. Not necessarily in a vindictive or malicious way, but like the way the Tsunami in Phuket in 2004 wasn’t vindictive or malicious when it flattened everything in its path in a matter of minutes. Keeping a pet human has the same effect on your house as Nicki Minaj has on pretty much any song she’s ever rapped on – take something that would otherwise be neat, socially acceptable and that you wouldn’t be ashamed to show to your mother….and royally f*ck it up.
E is for Expletives
I am not a particularly sweary person. However, having a child brings out the inner Tourette’s in even the most la-di-dah Oxbridge nimby. Reasons for which range from toys being left out to overtired tantrums to plain defiance, but as much as we sometimes want to call them out for being little sh*tsticks, there is one reason, and one reason alone that stops us. Kids repeat things. Try to get them to remember their “please” and “thankyou”s and you’re often faced with deafening silence. Let out one “FFS” under your breath from three rooms away and sods law you can guarantee your child will be repeating it for the rest of the day. So, to avoid being named and shamed in the Daily Fail Online for having the first toddler to be expelled from nursery before the age of three, we internalise our monologue in favour of more socially acceptable responses. Here are some examples:
What I want to say: Oh f*ck buggering titwanks, why does this piece of bastarding Lego I stepped on hurt so much?! Like seriously, how is this possible?! Was Lego originally made as a torture device for murders? Just give me electric shocks to the nipples – it would be kinder!
What I actually say: Joshua, baby, mummy asked you to pick up your Lego
What I want to say: Child, I swear that if you don’t stop screaming in the middle of the supermarket just because you can’t ride the bloody Thomas car, I’m going to rip your own arm off and beat you with it. The Thomas ride isn’t even there – LOOK! It’s broken, probably because too many spoilt arsewipe little brats have tantrumed over it and in the end the parents have torn the sodding thing out of the wall and shoved it up the arse of the supermarket manager who installed it.
What I actually say: Joshua, Mummy has some sweeties in the car, if you stop crying like a good boy, you can have them
What I want to say: WHAT?! They have cancelled Casualty to put on Match Of The Day?! F*ck my life, don’t they know this was all that was keeping me going through the last shitty 12 hours of sleep-deprived cooking, cleaning and tantrum-diffusing f*ckwittery?! I might as well give up now as the BBC has clearly lost its mind and will soon be overrun by MumsNet mums armed with broom handles they have sharpened into shivs
What I actually say: Actually, the above is pretty accurate. Joshua has usually gone to bed by the time Casualty is on, and I’ve generally have a glass of wine or a large Gin & Tonic, so I can say whatever the hell I like
F is for FML
It’s also for FFS, initialisms which can often be used interchangeably, especially when dealing with parent life. Examples of FML/FFS moments are:
- You’ve been asking your child periodically for the last half an hour whether they need the toilet, and even sat them on the toilet as a precaution, but to no avail. As soon as you get on to the motorway, effectively humanity’s longest one-way system, you will undoubtedly hear the words “I need a wee!”
- After a long hard battle on the front lines to get your child to sleep, you creep away from their bed, victorious, feeling like the king of the world. You have won. Then you look on the baby cam and realise the cat is still in their room, pudding at the duvet. And it’s the cat that likes being picked up as much as it would like a prostate exam
- You have a rare day off. You never have days off, but this has been booked since what feels like the beginning of time. You pour that lunchtime G&T and get ready to settle into a book in the sunshine, mostly to prove to yourself that you can actually still read books without pictures, pop-ups or lift-the-flaps (all decent ideas for the next Fifty Shades edition), when you get a call from the nursery saying that you have to pick up your child because he tried to run with his pants around his ankles and headbutted Spike, the nursery cactus.
G is for Guilt
Guilt is something that is abundant in parenting and takes many different forms. Even before a child is born we can feel guilty – for troubles conceiving or feelings of envy towards other people who have what we want. When the baby arrives, we feel guilty for not being able to work, or for working too much, or for not being able to find that work-life balance. We feel guilty for not enjoying every single second, like the books tell us that we should. And we feel guilty for feeling guilty. Friends and family may, with all the best intentions in the world, offer consoling advice like “It’s OK because….” or “At least it’s not as bad as….” or “It’ll be fine in the morning” (which, by the way, is literally the human version of ‘switching it off and back on again’). But sometimes this guilt can feel overwhelming and actually, you just want someone to acknowledge that yes, things are a bit sh*t right now, but it’s OK not to be OK all of the time.
H is for Hero
We all have heroes, whether they be fictional superheroes with capes and super powers and pants outside of their tights, famous people marvelled at from afar, or friends & family who have touched our lives in some way. The common factor in all of these is admiration. I have several heroes – Tom Ellis is my all time favourite actor and standing at almost 6ft 3”, is the very definition of Tall, Dark and Handsome. Some older readers (like myself) may remember him from British sitcom Miranda, but more recently he is famous for hit US series Lucifer, of which I have watched every episode, at least twice. Tom Ellis is a God…which is ironic because he plays the Devil in Lucifer, although it is a story of how nobody can be pure evil, and even the Devil himself has a heart. On a more realistic note, I admire authors such as Sara Turner (The Unmumsy Mum) and Matt Coyne (Man Vs Baby) who write about the truths of what parenting is really like, and not some sugar-coated cloud of unicorn farts that we’re sometimes lead to believe through MumsNet articles and #SoBlessed instagrammers. Most of all, I admire my parents, as they managed to raise me and my brother, and, in retrospect, we weren’t the easiest children to raise! And for that, I class them a superheros. Your child may be in to Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig or PJ Masks, but their real hero is the person whom they look up to every day, aspire to, learn from and run to. In their eyes your word is infallible and you can do no wrong (apart from the time you wouldn’t let them eat rocks, or when you couldn’t take their feet off…yes, you read that right). You may not wear your pants on top of your tights (not deliberately anyway…), but to your child, you are their hero.
I is for Improvisation
Improvisation is, effectively, “if you can’t make it, fake it” and is imperative to parenthood. Apart from the aforementioned ‘make it up as you go along’ approach to looking after the pet human that the hospital have just given you like a do-it-yourself Ikea flat-pack missing the instruction manual, there are countless times in your child’s life where you are forced to go off piste. For example, when Joshua was only a couple of weeks old, we were out and about and he managed to poo-splode out of the legs of his nappy and down my white dress (yeah, I know, schoolgirl error wearing white with a newborn – only made that mistake once!). It covered both of us like someone had shoved a bottle of Coke, a pack of Mentos and a jar of mustard up Joshua’s arse and shaken him vigorously. Neither of us had a change of clothes, so I stripped him down, wrapped him in a blanket and caught the tram to the nearest shops, like some kind of revamped Quentin Tarantino version of The Nativity. The first shop we came across was a charity shop and I bought Joshua a Superman outfit to wear for the duration of the day – it was clean, the right size, and let’s be honest, superheros are cool! That was one of my first experiences of improvisation as a parent, and it certainly wasn’t my last.
J is for Judgements
We all feel judged at some point in our life; it would be naive and arrogant to think that any of us were impermeable to weakness – we are, after all, all human. This feeling of judgement is particularly prominent amongst parents, covering everything from breastfeeding babies to dealing with toddler tantrums. When Joshua was very young, I took him to a Panthers Ice Hockey match and during the game he became hungry. Being completely new to the situation I didn’t know what the social etiquette was for breastfeeding in public, so I ended up sitting in the disabled toilet to feed him. Looking back on this, I am saddened by the fact that I felt so judged that I had to hide away. One thing I have learnt over the last few years is that we’re not alone: these feelings of judgement may be widespread, but they may also be just that – feelings. Those looks from other parents are more likely to be, a lot of the time, looks of empathy, understanding and the occasional “thank f*ck it’s not just my child that does that!” So the next time your kid kicks off in the feminine products isle of Asda, or you have to whip out a boob in the middle of a crowded cafe, don’t worry about it – we’ve all been there!
K is for Knackered
I feel many things as a mum – pride, happiness, fear, excitement….but most of the time, I just feel knackered! Like, not just a little bit tired, utterly shagged. A lot of the time it feels like someone has taken my eyeballs out, pickled them in vinegar and put them back in. This is a lot to do with juggling two businesses and a toddler, 7 days a week. I think the words sh*t and Sherlock come to mind. It’s also partially due to the fact that children are like little bombs programmed to go off at the same time every day, and like the movie Groundhog Day, it doesn’t matter what changes you make, whether you put them to bed at 7pm or frickin 1am, they will always wake up at 6.30am! You’d think, with all the scientific studies constantly reinforcing how it’s important to get 8 hours sleep, that a toddler who has no other responsibilities in life, would be evolutionarily predetermined to sleep for 8 hours to take advantage of all the cognitive advantages of said rest. Nope. The little f*ckers are still up at the crack of dawn! Something else that doesn’t help my situation is that we live in a time of social media, and I have the attention span of a 6 year old. This means that the precious time I do have is sometimes spent less than wisely. Dave keeps poking me to get Reddit. This would be a particularly bad idea. I can squander away enough of my time on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as it is…if I got Reddit too, you might as well write my obituary now as I’d rarely see the light of day again. For example, yesterday I had 2 precious hours of work time whilst Joshua napped. Granted, for the first hour, I did actually work – hurrah for me, gold star! The second hour, on the other hand looked a bit like this:
Intended work schedule:
3pm: Answer emails
3.20pm: Order stock
3.35pm: Talk to the website developer about updates
3.45pm: Conference call with PA
3.55pm: Generally be awesome & save the world
4pm: Have a cuppa before Joshua wakes up
Actual work schedule:
3pm: Answer 2 out of 7 emails
3.10pm: Look at funny cat meme Micky sent me….search for equally funny meme to send in return
3.20pm: Answer another email and get frustrated that the answer to their question was on the website….which they just emailed from
3.30pm: Look a latest Facebook Business Advertising Campaign results
3.33pm: Find old school friend on Facebook
3.35pm: Search for the rest of the class year on Facebook
3.45pm: Find an advert for Comic Con London – realise Tom Ellis is going to be there
3.47pm: Look up all other Tom Ellis appearances in 2019
3.50pm: Check flight prices to the USA…you know, just in case
3:59pm: Decide $1500 is probably a bit excessive for a round trip to LuciCon
4pm: Go to order stock….oh f*ckwombles, Joshua is awake
L is for LOL and LMAO
For anyone who doesn’t know, LOL stands for Laughing Out Loud (not ‘lots of love’ as one of my friends mum thought when she signed off the text message “Grandma’s ill in hospital, lol”). Similarly, LMAO stands for Laughing My Ass Off and LMFAO stands for….well, you get it. Anyway, as annoying, knackering and soul-destroying as it can be looking after them sometimes, it cannot be denied that toddlers do funny sh*t. From the beginning of “You’ve Been Framed” time, we have laughed at children falling asleep in their food, headbutting their dads in the groin, and using sanitary towels as window stickers. Their innocence makes them different to adult humans because they aren’t confined by social constructs or etiquette and thus they’re not worried about the consequences of their actions or what other people might think. There will come a day when this changes, but for as long as it lasts, enjoy the good times, as it makes the bad times that little bit easier to deal with. Oh, and take photos, as there will be nothing more embarrassing than showing your child, on their wedding day, a picture of them with a tampon stuck up their nose.
M is for Multitasking
Anyone with children will know that in order to squeeze enough into your precious 18 hour day without anyone dying, being reported to social services or eating their own poo, you must learn to multitask. This may include giving your human breakfast whilst doing the washing up and cooking off the potatoes for that evening’s dinner, or replying to emails on your phone whilst pushing your child to sleep in the pram on the way to the post office. Multitasking, however, can lead to a lapse in concentration and thus there must be some ground rules in place:
- Always sniff it to make sure it’s chocolate before putting it in your mouth
- If the room goes quiet, check on your toddler immediately, as you’re likely to find your walls painted in contents of their nappy, or 150 Micro Machines in the toilet bowl
- Make sure you have a means to pay….a Starbucks card, a pair of knickers (thanks for that one Amy!), a tampon, and a dry weetabix (all things my friends have genuinely pulled out of their pockets instead of money) are not generally accepted in exchange for goods/services.
- Make sure you are logged into to the kids account on Netflix before leaving them with the iPad whilst you hang the washing up….Game Of Thrones is not suitable for anyone under the age of …well anyone really. The makers of GoT are seriously broken….like Britney Spears level broken!
- Always check that you’re sending that text to the right person – your work colleagues don’t need to know about your latest haemorrhoid cream success story, nor do your in-laws wish to know that you’re ovulating and it’s time to clean the cobwebs with the womb broom
Well my friends, that’s part 1 done – How to Raise Your Pet Human, A to M. Look out for our next instalment which will cover N to Z (and by that point I may have thought of something baby-related that starts with an ‘X’).