A-Z of Parenting Mysteries (or things they never told you)

A portable laundrette and three changes of clothes are required for each child under 5 for every outing.  Particularly if blue sky shows the slightest hint of turning grey.

Books become objects for propping doors open or levelling wobbly tables, not things you actually have time to read.

Circular treadmill.  Your whole life becomes a circle: no sooner is one thing completed than another one’s screaming to be done.  If you have more than one child the circles begin to overlap: the eldest child gets the youngest’s jumper, and the baby gets the school bag.

Delve into your pockets and you’re as likely to pull out a half-eaten biscuit or your toddler’s pants, as you are a clean hankie.

Excursions.  For at least the first 18 months of your child’s life a trip to the supermarket will be your only regular excursion and will become the highlight of your week.

Failings.  You can’t rewind what you just said or did and get it right the second time.

Gratitude.  You will have it in bucketloads for friends and family who buy toys without lights, batteries and noise.

Helplessness.  You will not be able to solve every problem and wipe away every tear.

Intimate conversations with complete strangers at supermarket checkouts will become the norm if they have even so much as a bump, never mind a fully operational toddler.

Jealousy.  You’ll become jealous of your partner’s 40-minute commute through rush-hour traffic because he, at least, gets some time alone.

Kiss goodbye to personal ownership of anything the minute your first child can crawl.  Biscuits, coffee (hot or cold), your precious time, work’s laptop – even Aunt Griselda’s diamond jewellery – are all up for grabs!

Lay them on their tummy.”  “Lay them on their back.”  With a newborn baby, everyone’s an expert – except you!

Movie nights are a must.  No, not for you!  Stock up on DVD’s for the kids, then sneak upstairs while they’re engrossed and try to remember what K-Y Jelly’s for.

Natural childbirth feels very unnatural.  Nobody tells you the truth until after the event.

Overwhelming love for your child.  The strength of this feeling can knock you off your feet.

Philosopher.  Didn’t know this was going to be part of the job description?  Well, how else will you deal with questions like “Mummy, what’s my soul?” and “Who invented time?” over baked beans on toast?

Quaint notion of privacy – completely obliterated.  You get none.  If you think the bathroom will be your sanctuary – think again!

Referee.  In families of more than one child you will be on-call 24/7 to sort out the most minor of disputes, unless you don’t mind your house being trashed and your kids turning black and blue.

Sex at six weeks post-partum?  You must be joking!

Tissues: bulk purchase. Every trip out will feel like mobilising an army: bags, bottles, nappies, wipes, clothes, spare clothes, extra spare clothes, food, toys – oh, and those tissues.  An absolute must for mopping up a stressed parent or two.

Unimaginable tiredness.  You will end up fantasising about what you would trade for eight hours of sleep.

Velcro tabs do not mean your child will actually undo his shoes to put them on.

What’s right one day certainly won’t be the next, or even in five minute’s time.

X marks the spot.  You’ll buy charts and stickers in their thousands to remedy tea-time tantrums, and other such life-threatening dilemmas like “No, it’s my turn for the curly straw!”

You will learn to cook a main meal, and serve it, in 10 minutes flat.

Zero feedback.  You won’t know how well you’ve done until it’s too late to do anything about it.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/