There’s no better parent than one who hasn’t had kids yet! How did your expectations match up with the reality of parenting? Fess up!
From know-it-all to no-I-haven’t-showered-in-days
Travel on any plane with a small child, dare to eat in a restaurant with your offspring or just generally be out in public with kids and you’ll see them.
The judgemental faces. The eye rollers. The crossed arms and the knowing stares.
They’re the people who are planning on one day becoming parents but who haven’t had kids yet. And boy, do they know EVERYTHING about it.
You know them. You were once just like them. You knew that when your time came to have a kid you’d do everything right. Your child would sleep on time, they’d never tantrum, they’d eat whatever meal they were given and they’d love it.
Now that you are faced with the reality of parenting it might be time to walk down memory lane and unpack what you THOUGHT it would be like with the actual reality.
Good children sleep in their own beds, without fuss or crying, for a solid 10 hours. They go to sleep when they’re asked to, they can self-settle from conception and they never call out for any reason.
You ask parents of newborns, “Is she a good baby? Is she sleeping?”. When they pull the sleep crust from their eyes to let you know they’ve not dozed in weeks. You make comforting noises but can’t help letting that condescending tone out. You’ll never be like that!
Parents just need to put in effort when it comes to getting their children to sleep! It’s not that hard! Babies are humans and humans need sleep! Simple!
How’s that going for you now?
Cat nappers. Sleepless zombie babies. Babies who can’t be put down. Toddlers afraid of the dark. An endless cycle of patting and dipping and swaying until you find yourself shushing a loaf of bread at the supermarket and wondering when you lost control of your life.
Speaking of supermarkets, here’s another chestnut.
Filthy children who tantrum in public. Crying because they want lollies, or no lollies, or toilet, or a nap, or that their sibling looked at them. Embarrassing, ridiculous, completely out of control. Your children will NEVER be like that.
Again – care to adjust your answer?
Dealing with a tantrum in public, at home, in the car or at the park is like a right of passage for parents. We know now (and we didn’t really get it before) that these are little people trying to figure out how the world works. They have big emotions without the verbal capacity to adequately express what they want.
The tantrum is where a lot of learning happens – both for the child and for the parent. Perhaps next time your progeny scream the house down in public you can politely inform the gawkers that your child is getting an education in life.
Purely organic, ethically sourced produce. No junk food until they turn 18. No artificial colours or flavours. They eat what’s on their plate the first time and there will NEVER be any alternatives offered EVER.
Fast forward a couple of years. What did your kids eat for dinner last night?
The last ‘change my answer’ when it comes to parenting expectations vs reality is food – the final frontier. For all our best intentions, sometimes kids just need to eat ANYTHING. Or nothing. It seems like toddlers can survive for days fuelled purely by Paw Patrol and a lust for life.
Parenting expectations vs reality
If you’ve been there, done that and gotten the t-shirt you’ll know that parenting isn’t anything like you thought it would be.
Spare a thought for those shell-shocked first time new parents you see grappling with this own cosmic realisation.
Don’t ask them about the sleeping or the eating or the tantrums. Ask them how you can help instead.
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