They reckon that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and, similarly, the treacherous mountain pass of parenthood seems to have visited the same branch of Homebase. It’s very easy to guess at what being a parent will be like when you’ve read all the books that promise they can guide you to some can’t of child-rearing idyll. I’m fairly certain they can’t, but some people are making millions out of pretending to be gurus.
Here are four things you might have once believed, until reality put you straight…
“We’ll not let our little one watch the TV, we’ll read books and sing songs instead”
Reading books and singing songs are fun, interactive, worthy activities that will help your children learn and prosper, that much is true. However, sitting them in front of the telly for half an hour is THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN GET STUFF DONE sometimes. Need to make a phone call without a toddler pushing your nose and demanding you emit a honking noise? Let Mr. Tumble babysit for a while – he’s really very good at it. Babies and toddlers are hypnotised by him. In a good way.
Also, much kids telly in the UK at least, particularly CBeebies and CBBC, is crafted to be simultaneously entertaining and educational. They spend a lot of time and money developing concepts with experts to provide perfectly-pitched, stimulating viewing for their young audiences, you may as well take advantage and allow yourself to finish a cup of tea whilst it is still vaguely warm.
“We’ll not have any of that plastic rubbish, just wooden toys for our child”
A noble aim given the world’s landfill issues, but one that doesn’t factor in the existence of other people. Attempt to stem the flow of plastic for birthdays, Christmases and other assorted events and you will end up as a kind of parenting King Canute, bemoaning your sopping wet shoes. You’ll also look like this overly-demanding parent.
As soon as you witness your little cherub playing with their toys, you will see why EVERY parent relents and stocks up on cheap and cheerful fare. If it’s just going to get chewed, buried in the garden and jumped on, it might as well be inexpensive to replace.
“Convenience food? Pah! Our offspring will enjoy nourishing, organic home-cooked meals every night”
There are two issues here – firstly, where are you going to find the time? Even CBeebies can only hold a toddler’s gaze for so long, probably not long enough to finish off a fricassée de poulet a l’ancienne to your exacting standards.
Secondly, even if you can rustle something nutritious up after bedtime to put in the fridge for the next day, children have an innate ability to sense that something is good for them and, as a consequence, flatly refuse to eat it. I used to think this hatred of greens was something they picked up from naughty children at school, but Elsa isn’t even two yet and we have to work really hard to grate courgette and carrots into dishes so that she doesn’t notice. It’s like they come with a goodness radar built in.
Sometimes it’s just easier to give them beans on toast. They will survive.
“I’m not a big sleeper anyway, I’ll be fine when baby comes”
How’s that working out for you? I’ll get you a coffee…
Your suggestions for more misguided things you say before becoming a parent:
“I don’t understand why people change their lifestyle just because they have kids. We won’t.” – Einar
“No child of mine will EVER wear shoes with lights in them.” – Andy
If you have any more pre-parenting misconceptions to add, stick them in the Comments section.