When you become a mother there are a lot of pesky does and don’t suddenly thrown at you. It is basically an extension of the ten commandments only for women alone. Men seem to dodge a lot of the unsolicited instructions, I notice. Are we surprised?
Do follow Gina Forde to the letter.
Don’t give the baby a soother.
Don’t even think of giving that child a nut.
Blaaa Blaaa Blaaa.
All these ‘does’ and ‘don’t’ are very instructional and really have little bearing on the realities of the sometimes fun, sometimes head-wrecking, always visceral (there are just so many fluids) experience of parenthood. So I’ve helpfully compiled the Alternative 10 Commandments Of Motherhood As A Helpful Guide To New Parenthood (this is by no means a definitive list, please feel fee to throw a few more in the comments).
Thou Shalt Not Tell Anyone That Your Baby Is A Good sleeper
The second you brag about your baby sleeping is the second, THE SECOND, your baby will decide that sleep is for the weak and they will promptly never sleep again. You have been warned.
Thou Shalt Not Wear White
Ever. Wearing white when you are a parent is like begging the malevolent Parenting Gods to smote you. And they will smote you. They will smote you with projectile spew, crushed up liga biscuits and any other substances lying around.
Thou Shalt NEVER Run Out Of Rice Cakes, Baby Wipes, Bananas Or Wine
It’s just not worth it, believe me.
Thou Shalt Never For One Single Second Think “Hey! I feel I’m getting the hang of this”
You are not. The Parent Gods will hear this hubris and smote you appropriately for it (see above, they are vindictive those Parenting Gods). And you will deserve it for being such a damn idiot.
Thou Shalt Not Dole Out Parenting Advice To Others EVER
Unless of course this is requested in which case spend the opening paragraph of the advice detailing all the stupid things you’ve done since procreating (and don’t leave out the time(s) the second-born fell off the bed/changing table/sofa). Whoever is asking for advice needs to be told that we are all mildly shit at parenting, we need honesty here not whitewashing of the struggle.
Thou Shalt Remember That Just Because You’ve Had A Baby Two Months Ago, You Actually Don’t Know Sh*t About Toddlers
If your friend is crying because her toddler is slowly and meticulously annihilating her dreams and stamping on her soul, don’t presume it is something she can help. Newborns seem hard for sure but no amount of colic or sleepless nights can really prepare you for the levels of deep, tear-your-own-face-off-in-frustration irritation a toddler whinge-fest can inspire.
Thou Shalt Not Complain Endlessly About Being Exhausted All The Time
Do you find it interesting when your friends are relating their profound tiredness in exhaustive detail? NO. No one does. The “I’m so tired” conversation is up there with recounting dreams as the most boring avenue of conversational interaction of all time. Just suck it up and remember that there are parents of twins and triplets out there stoically not screaming ALL THE DAMN TIME about how tired they must be. I often think that parents of multiples must look upon the rest of the “exhausted” parents of single babies with SCORN, laughing at what pathetic, crybabies we all are.
Thou Shalt Not F*ck With The Bedtime Routine
Bedtime is sacred. Bedtime is the life raft in the chaotic sea of parenthood. The whole damn day could be one 15 hour long (yes, days are actually longer when you have young kids, this is science – you get up at 4am after all, right?) sh*tshow of explosive nappies, crying jags (theirs), crying jags (yours), stepping in bare feet on stray lego (cue more crying) and as long as you can make it to the bedtime routine, all will be well.
Well, I don’t want to overstate the power of keeping bedtime consistent, it’s not a miracle cure-all but they’ll stay asleep for a couple of hours at least.
If you’re lucky.
Thou Shall Hide In The Loo Whenever Possible
It’s a sanity preserver. I highly recommend stashing secret snacks and magazines in there.
Thou Shall Be Selfish Too; Thou Shalt Not Feel Guilty
This one is the most important of all. My policy for motherhood is like the oxygen masks on the plane, to a certain extent you have to do yourself first. If I’m neglecting myself because I’m prioritising everyone else in the house ahead of me, I get down and then I get short tempered and SHOUTY, this invariably leads to much self-flagellation which makes me even more down and even more shouty and on and on that guilt-vortex goes. My own mother is a good template for not getting bogged down in the whole ‘mothershould’ of motherhood. I found I started a lot of my conversations with her with the words “I feel so bad because…” What ever I followed up with was usually pretty minor in the grand scheme of things: I shouted at the kids or I missed bedtime or I’m going out with friends or go to the bloody gym as if this is some maaaaaajor indulgence on my part. She banned me from the “I feel bad” refrain and it’s worked to a certain extent. We can’t sign away our self-interest and be good parents, we need a balance of the classic mammy martyrdom with a generous helping of selfishness.
Can I get an “Amen!”