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January 29, 2015

A Realist’s Guide to Surviving the First 10 years of Parenting.

Baby Charlie

*Warning contains questionable language*

Every Monday, I clean my house from top to bottom.

It happens a few days a week, but Monday is the day I liberate the house from the accumulated chaos that an entire weekend of housing three boys has provided. Today as I was vacuuming my bedroom I looked up at a family collage that hangs on my wall.

It is a picture that I look at everyday, but today it got me thinking. I looked at that photograph of me holding my tiny newborn son; I was slathered in the unique blend of exhaustion and euphoria that just birthing your own tiny little miracle provides. I allowed myself to get lost in the beauty of that moment all over again, and I thought to myself, “you poor deluded bastard.”

Nobody told me what I was in for. No, they left me to languish in Earth Mother fantasy land. I wish that someone had the courage to pull me aside and whisper a few truths in my ear about what I was really in for. Would it have made a difference? Probably not, but at least I would have walked into it forewarned.

In the interest of public service (and humor) I give you the unbridled truth. My guide to surviving the first 10 years of parenthood.

So, you are the proud owner of a brand new human. Congratulations. If your offspring are in various stages of evolution please skip directly to step two.

1. Please make your way to your wardrobe and move everything that is sparkly, tight, glamorous, not Mum jeans or made of jersey knit directly to the back of the wardrobe. Unless you have a Nanny, Private Chef, Personal Trainer or you are incredibly self disciplined and love to exercise, don’t even look at it or try it on for at least the next 12 months. Trust me. Just. Don’t.

2. When a well meaning Friend/Family member/Complete stranger gives you advice about how to raise your child correctly (and they will) nod and smile, then go right ahead and do it your way. Don’t listen to Aunt Sue when she tells you to squirt breast milk in your newborns eye to cure a blocked tear duct. If you do get stuck, (and lets face it we all do at one time or another) go and seek expert advice to educate yourself or remove your fears.

3. Buying new furniture or anything white is a waste of time and money, (unless it is completely shagged and absolutely must be replaced) it just is. Again, trust me.

4. Everything you thought was yours is now public domain. If you want to keep that expensive bottle of perfume or skin cream from being spread all over the carpet and walls, put it where your inquisitive toddler can’t get to it.

5. Get a hobby or a personal interest outside of your delightful cherubs. If you don’t make it a habitual practice to occasionally dedicate time to yourself, you are going to find that in a few years time you will be staring down a black hole of dirty nappies and pot roasts wondering where in the heck you went.

6. Life will get in the way if you let it. Make time for your significant other, even when you’re tired and run down. If you make time for romance, you will still have something magical when the tide turns and your children start to gain some independence. As a separated parent, this is my biggest regret. It happens to the best of us, please don’t let it happen to you if you can avoid it.

7. Have a parenting strategy. Discuss how you are going to raise your children and keep the lines of communication open. Make no mistake, your children are tiny diabolical geniuses. If they see a chink in your parenting armor they will divide and conquer with more skill and diplomacy than a five star general.

8. Don’t make idle threats. Ever. If you make a promise, threat or deal, follow through. Consistency is key. Some children have memories to rival that of an elephant, if you want their respect and long term cooperation follow through. Every. Damn. Time.

9. Create healthy boundaries. Your crotch fruit will push your buttons and drive you nuts, that is a given. But they will also delight you, inspire you and make you grow. If you give them boundaries and let them test their independence (and they will) within healthy limits you will all be just fine.

10. Try not to take anything too seriously. There are no perfect parents. Period. We all get through it the best way we can. Find the humor in it, have fun with them. One of the greatest things about having children is that you get the opportunity to view the world through the eyes of a child all over again. It is a magical journey, enjoy the ride.

Relephant:

Mindful Parenting: Harnessing the Ego.


Author: Dannielle Gallagher

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Provided by Author

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