Upon wheeling our newborn daughter from the birth suite to the ward (you can't carry them these days), my husband and I vividly remember looking blankly at the midwife like two teens on their first day of work and asking "what do we do now?”
"Feed her, love her and enjoy it” was her answer, coupled with a laugh. We felt equally underqualified leaving the hospital with our new precious cargo, but that soon changed.
Now, 469 days into the gig, I've learned many things about becoming a parent, and it isn't the big stuff. Everything you thought it was going to be like B.C. (before child) is actually the polar opposite:
1. The hardest thing you'll ever do is cut a newborn's fingernails. My husband refused to after he accidentally nipped our daughter's finger. But that's until we discovered the Nail Snail.
2. Always choose zippy suits over press studs. If you've ever tried to button up a onesie on an overtired, screaming baby you'll know the frustration. Drake's "Started from the bottom now we're here” was our bedtime anthem until we became a "zippy only'' household.
3. It's OK if your newborn doesn't sleep every 1.5 hours. Sure that's what child health nurses advocate, but some children are just stubborn nappers. Eventually every child falls asleep.
4. You know your suburb like the back of your hand because whenever you pull into your street the bundle in the back falls asleep. This calls for an impromptu scenic drive.
5. Cloth nappies ain't so bad ... Changes to our garbage collection forced us to try modern cloth nappies and it isn't the "four-letter-word'' of a job everyone told us it would be. Nearly 800 million disposable nappies wind up in landfill every year and take 200 to 500 years to break down.
6. Always carry snacks. If there's one sure-fire way to stretch a child's patience while running errands it's food.
7. The postie always calls when you're still in your pyjamas, even if it's noon.
8. Becoming a mum means you've swapped your Chanel No. 5 for dried milk and spit-up and your former hair routine for traces of mashed pumpkin.
9. You rush out of the shower because you can hear the baby crying, only to find she's happily playing with dad.
10. Thou shall not have nice things. From fingerprints on the walls to smashed avocado on the sofa, the mess is real. I'm still amazed how a toddler can javelin their dinner across the room. After dinner, our dining room needs an exclusion zone.
11. Kids become the best excuse when you just don't feel like taking up an invitation.
12. No matter how many toys a toddler has, the peg basket, a stick, even a cardboard box will always be more appealing.
13. Strangers will refer to your kid as "a cute little boy” even when she's dressed in pink.
14. You appreciate your own mum more.
15. You learn more about yourself when your kids start to copy your behaviour. "Do I actually do that?”
16. The world becomes a scarier place. You worry more about what the future holds.
17. Everything is a phase. The days may drag on before happy hour grants you a glass of red but the years sure go fast.
18. Becoming a parent is the best thing you'll ever do. It's full of surprises and challenges, equally as many laughs and so much love.