To the idiot who thought motherhood would be easy

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To my pre-pregnant self (the idiot who thought she had it all figured out), 

If you are reading this letter then time travel has been invented. Good, because now I can come back in time and punch you in the face.

So you are probably wondering, why?

You know how sometimes you stay up late and spend the following day moaning about how tired you are?

“Oh I only got six hours sleep,” you whine. “I really need an early night,” you sigh.

Well, I have got news for you. YOU ARE NOT TIRED.

When you eat baked beans straight from the tin because you are too knackered to wash a bowl, THEN you are tired.

When you use baby wipes,  kitchen towel and cotton wool balls, because you are too exhausted to the shop for toilet roll, THEN you need more sleep.

When you find yourself wearing clothes straight from the dirty washing pile because you can’t face doing more laundry (oh I may as well give you the heads up. Once you have children you will literally spend half of your life washing. So can you please stop spending money on going out for dinner/wine and save up for a good washer/dryer or live-in cleaner) then, and only then, my fresh-faced little friend, do know the meaning of the word tired.

So make the most of lie ins and early nights. In fact, spend whole weekends just sleeping; because once you have babies you will never sleep again.

Enjoy the small things like nipping out for milk. A few years from now there will be no ‘nipping out.’ There will be no ‘popping to the shop’.  Once you have children every trip out is a major operation that must be strategically planned with care.

And another thing: you know when your first newspaper editor told you that to assume makes an ass out of you and me?  He was right.

Soon you will start trying for your first baby (make the most of this because once you have had the baby, even when you so much as think about trying-for-a-baby-related activities, your baby WILL put a stop to it). You will read all the books, check all of the websites, sign up for all the ‘Why The Hell Isn’t My Baby Doing This Yet’ emails and you will assume you know EVERYTHING there is to know about babies.

You will assume that babies go to bed early because, well, they are babies and they will do what you say.

And you will assume that babies only wake up at night when they need feeding or changing.

Well, it turns out you are a major ass.  You knew nothing.

Like when you got pregnant and bought all those things you thought you definitely needed. Just so you know….

Things not to bother buying when you have a baby:  

  • Moses basket. (We keep the towels in it).
  • Sleeping bags. (You will hear many stories about babies who ‘slept like a dream’ from the moment they went to bed in one of these. Yours is not one of them).
  • Hundreds of different expensive baby bottles (if they won’t take a bottle it is very likely that they will not take any bottle. Unless it is made of boob).
  • Parenting books. Unless of course they are specifically written about YOUR baby. They are useless. You are better off buying ‘I Wrote To The Zoo’ instead (and lots of Sellotape, you’ll see why).
  • Anything nice. It will get destroyed.
  • A posh black settee (ideally get one the colour of baby sick).
  • A million muslin cloths. (People will tell you these are invaluable when you have babies. They are invaluable if you like washing. Buy shit loads of baby wipes instead).
  •  Newborn baby toys. They don’t really give a toss about toys for quite a while. Even overpriced rubber giraffes.

Instead of buying any of the above, spend your money (which you will have very little of once you have children) on biscuits, wine, Sky Plus, coffee and a giant bed.

One last thing before I go – childbirth is not the hard bit. Once the baby arrives – that’s when things ger tough.

Anyway, I hope I haven’t put you off having babies.  I guess if I had you wouldn’t be reading this letter.  Or I wouldn’t have written it? I think.  I am too tired to get into paradoxes of time travel.

So, parenthood won’t be anything like you are expecting. You assume you will love your babies – but you do not expect to fall in love with them. There will be a lot of tears (mainly yours) but there will also be a lot of laughter.

Babies are funny (ok, not so much at 4am when you have been up with them all night).   And every day is just like watching an episode of You’ve Been Framed. While you are drunk.

So, good bye and good luck. You are going to need it.

Best wishes,

Your future self x

What advice would you give your pre-pregnant self?  I would probably tell them to read this Survival Guide. Feel free to add a comment or join us on my Facebook page thingy.. or here @stolensleep

17 thoughts on “To the idiot who thought motherhood would be easy

  1. Very funny and so true. I’m living dangerously by saying my daughter is very good at sleeping on the whole. I started training her at 3months when I realised I hardly vet put her down. Who wants to?! They’re so cuddly. But now for naps and bedtime I put her in bed, she cuddles her bear, waves and blows a kiss. If I don’t leave she flaps at me and turns over! She’s 20months.
    If she’d just sleep past 6am she’d be perfect!

  2. Well, I agree about childbirth but not about sleep. I definitely had periods of greater tiredness in my pre-child days, and I have pretty poor sleepers. But it was different because it was over a shorter period and it had a defined end-point and it was in pursuit of something heavily engaging. (Say what you like about the joys of parenthood, but it can get a bit monotonous at times.) I feel it a lot less when I work a bit – the mental stimulation makes me forget the lack of sleep. Also I don’t get interrupted quite so often at work which gets exhausting in its own special way.

    Probably for me if I wrote that letter I would just say hang in there, but that’s a whole separate story 🙂 .

  3. I second: one really does not know what tired means before having one, no, two poorly sleeping babies… the worst kind of torture in my adult life. But I think a letter to the pre-pregnant me would say “go for it, it’s not what you expect but it’s so much more. Just don’t forget common sense”. However, there will *not* be a third baby in my house!

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