So I started this whole post with pictures of Oscar through the years and the whole grim triumphant (of sorts) journey that it’s been since he was born all those years ago on 25 February 1998 and well, SNORE.
Instead I thought I’d give you 12 things I’ve learnt in the last 12 years because let’s face it, it is all about me.
1. You will never get enough sleep in the early years of your children’s life. In fact, your sleeping patterns are basically fucked for at least the next 20 years. Get over it.
2. Your husband is your partner in parenting. It is not a competition (as to who got less/more sleep, who does more/less).
3. You must always try and find the humorous side. This is particularly important when a) the family is struck down with some dreaded lurgy that involves having to handle/smell/touch/deal with way too many bodily fluids that are not your own or b) it has been a particularly stressful moment due to multiple children having monumental meltdowns simultaneously or c) it’s 3am and no-one’s getting any sleep because the baby is screaming and no-one knows why and wow who knew you could be this tired and I could really go a cheeseburger.
4. Don’t ever say you don’t have the time to do something for yourself. Organise it and it will happen.
5. Schedule everything. Sex, exercise, time alone, you name it. If you don’t schedule it then suddenly your husband is looking forlorn and you’re inexplicably narky. Well, more narky than usual.
6. Learn the phrase ‘this too shall pass‘ and remember to repeat it, out loud if necessary, as a mantra when the going gets tough. That can be when you can’t make dinner fast enough and children are melting faster than the polar ice cap; when you literally have no money to buy food, petrol or pay for the school excursion; when your child’s most funnest game in the world is pulling every single DVD/book/toy off the shelf/out of the box and then walking away; when one of your children breaks one of your last remaining things of emotional or financial significance; when your kids decide to put their ride on cars through a car wash and use motor oil as the shampoo; or when every surface in the house is deemed worthy of an artwork, in a Sharpie.
7. You are not alone. Pick up the phone. Get out of the house.
8. If ‘it’s’ not working, change ‘it’. ‘It’ being how you’re trying to teach your kids to be nice to each other, or right from wrong, or that the toilet is a much better place to take a dump than the back verandah, or that sleeping through the night in their own bed is an absolute trip, a fun trip! with fairies and unicorns and rainbows and chocolate! lots and lots of chocolate!
9. Pick your battles and turn off the television. Oh and always be willing to say you’re sorry and/or admit you were wrong. Even to your kids.
10. Kids do this ridiculous thing where not only do they get bigger they develop, as in, their own character and opinion and ideas. This can catch you off guard. Just accept you have to change your parenting as your kids get older. It makes everything easier.
11. Sit on the floor. Avert your eyes from how filthy it is down there and play a goddamn game with your kids. Yes, 28 games of Connect4 when they don’t even play it right will make your brain bleed from your ears but your kids will love it. That’s right, the train-track could be better designed and that’s way too many carriages for one engine to pull and yep it is always going to fall off the track on that corner for that exact reason but let.it.go. OH come now, just how many marbles can there really be in Kerplunk! See #6.
12. The activities that you find the most painful/boring/least rewarding/intellectually debilitating will be the ones your kids love the most. See #6.