So, the topic for this week was supposed to be "Things My Parents Taught Me" - but I didn't really have the type of upbringing that was filled with advice and life lessons - the main things I learned from the parent who raised me was to not make the same mistakes. I'm not going to go into all that here, so instead, I've decided to do my post about things I've learned from my three children (3 boys, aged 10, 18 months and 18 months).
1. Never, EVER leave the house without the changing bag.
You know when you're popping out for ten minutes, and you think - no point in bringing that massive bag, they'll be fine for a few minutes - they won't. They'll pick that ten minutes to puke/poo/spill something/lose a sock. Guaranteed. Make like a boy scout, and always be prepared. Pack everything. EVERYTHING. Socks, vests, tops, trousers, shoes, soothers, calpol, teething gel, nappies, wipes, nappy bags, snacks, toys - if it relates to your baby, get it in there.
2. You will do things in public you'd never do before having children.
You will. Barking like a dog when you pass the dog food aisle in Tesco? Yep. Snorting whenever you see a pig? Yep. Humming various theme tunes? Yep. Pointing at things in a very animated childrens TV presenter way while enunciating "What's THat?" What is THat? Is THat a BALL? Is IT?". You'll do it, and you won't think twice about it.
3. Toddlers are little metal detectors.
No, not snooping through the Facebook pages of former classmates. This creeping involves stealth-like moves that ensure you can go about your business when the kids are napping without waking them. Any parent knows that sleep is precious - you soon learn where every dodgy floorboard in your bedroom is, you could hear a fly over the volume of the TV, and woe betide those who drive up to our house after 8pm. I have learned in the past year that my husband and eldest son can not whisper. They are incapable of it. I have also learned that to get out of the bedroom without waking the twins requires an extra-large step just before I get to the door, at a right angle to the skirting board.
5. Trust your instincts and stop comparing.
Everyone has parenting advice for new parents. Pretty much from the time your baby is born, you'll be told you're doing it right, you're not doing it right. .You're feeding them too much, too little. Their room is too hot, too cold, They're wearing too many layers, not enough layers. You're stimulating them too much, not enough. Co-sleeping is good, it's bad. Purées are best, purées are a waste of time. Everyone has an opinion - but you know what they say about opinions! You have instincts. Learn to use and trust them. You know your children better than anyone in the whole world - you will know when they're happy, when they're full, when they're too hot or too cold - learn to smile and nod when people offer advice, it's so much easier than having an argument. Or my personal favourite - "Thanks, I'll consider that." Don't compare your children with other children. My twins are made from the same stuff, came from the same place two minutes apart, have the same environment - and they're totally different developmentally. Children will do things in their own time, so I refuse to google things like "why is my baby not able to sing a song when Jenny's baby can recite three Hamlet soliloquies?".
6. If they're not supposed to touch it, they will.
I reckon my toddlers have an internal notepad on which they jot down lists of things to do the minute my back is turned. At 18 months, I think it looks like this:
I have a hatred of Sudocrem after this incident with the eldest circa 2006:
7. Children are sponges, so watch your mouth.
They listen to everything. Even if you don't think they're listening, they are. They're sitting there, looking innocent, pretending they don't hear you, pretending they don't know what you're talking about, saving it all up until the day a visitor comes to the house and they walk up to that visitor, all smiles, and say, in the sweetest little four-year-old voice, as clear as day, "My Daddy called you a bollix".
Spelling words out doesn't work after a certain age, either. "Mammy, what's a see-you-enn-tee? What is it? What's it? Why did you call [relative name] that? What is it?" "It's nothing" "It's not nothing! It's not nothing! Why did you say it? Why did you say she was it? Is she a see-you-enn-tee? What's a see-you-enn-tee? WHAT IS IT?"
8. How to deal with a crisis.
At 21, I had an emergency c-section after a pretty horrific experience that I briefly discussed here before. At 30, I was 28 weeks pregnant when I was told I was having not one, but two babies. The shock of that has pretty much eradicated shock from my vocabulary now altogether - I can genuinely say that very little floors me. Which is good, when you turn around and there's a baby after climbing up on the table. Or when they were tiny babies and I'd be home alone with them and they'd both start screaming and I wouldn't have a clue what to do or who to go to first. Or when they were little and they'd make a fart sound and suddenly there's poo coming out of them like a geyser.
When you have kids, it's fairly inevitable that accidents are going to happen. It's part of growing up, and it's important to remain calm in the face of poo. You find ways to manage - my kids have definitely taught me to be more inventive and resourceful (I used to sit on the floor cross-legged with one baby in the crook of each knee when they both roared at the same time, rocking back and forth with a bottle in each mouth, one bottle held in place with an elbow while I burped another, then swap).
9. Life is Short.
This is really a scary one. I look back at photographs from a year ago and see amazing differences in my babies - I remember when my eldest was this age, and he'll be going into Secondary School in another two years. It's really, really scary, but it happens and there's nothing we can do about it. Enjoy your kids when they're small - embrace the mess, embrace the madness, make memories, take photographs and videos, back everything up. Time flies, children are only little for such a short time. They've taught me that it's okay to ignore a mess while you build blocks. Or that it's okay to leave the dishes and play with puzzles. That it's fun to go out for a long walk together regardless of the list of stuff that awaits at home.
To read the posts from the rest of the lovely bloggers involved in the #IrishBlogCollab, check out the links below.
Zoe: I Believe in Romeo
Catherine: Breathing Silver Linings
Denise: Dee-Termined to Glam and Glow
Marie: The Beaut Mum
Lara: The Love Song of Fashion
Cat: Mentally Beautiful
Maeve: Thrift O'Clock
Cathryn: What Kate Loves
Eimear: Chirps From a Little Red Hen