Would I do anything differently if, knowing what I do now, my first child was due tomorrow? Some things. Hindsight is wonderful and while I can't benefit from mine, there maybe someone out there who might.
The world is definitely a different place to the one my eldest was born into 13 years ago. For a start there wasn't the Internet. Or if there was it was a long way off from arriving in my in my sitting room.
That would be the biggest change for me. I could find inspiration from other people. Mothers who were parenting differently to the ones I saw.
Here's what else I wish I had known.
- Town or country: Where you live makes a huge difference. After moving to the country when our baby was six months old, I quite often wish we hadn't. I know it's thought of as a wonderful place to bring up children but it can be a lot harder. Isolation. Limited number of potential friends. A less green lifestyle. Quite often more expensive because you need two cars. I could go on.
- Ditch the TV: This is probably a bit radical but I really wish I'd done this. It sucks away time and can be the font of many arguments with children about what to watch, when and for how long. I wish I'd saved myself the hassle and started as I meant to go on.
- Buy the best gear you can: I didn't think I'd be able to have children and consequently never truly believed I'd be lucky enough to have any more after the first, hence we didn't spend a lot of money. In the long run, it worked out more expensive because items had to be replaced.
- Limit stuff: Babies notoriously attract mountains of equipment and clothes. I wish we had resisted more, both the toys and equipment we bought for the first and perhaps tried to stem the flow from grandparents. By the time the other children came along we had learned that less really is more.
- Slow down: Life was one long round of meeting up with others mums and their babies. There was also ballet, swimming and singing. Quite often I would schedule in what I called "home" days when I just needed to stay put with my little ones and bake and play. I just wish I did it a bit more.
- Worry less: I have been lucky enough to inherit a worry gene from my father. Throw in a couple of miscarriages and I can say I didn't really savour my pregnancies. I should have worried less because it doesn't change the outcome at all.
- Comparison is the death of contentment: I wish I had kept this in mind a bit more but I guess a lack of confidence sometimes got in the way. If I could revisit my 26-year-old self I'd say "you're doing just fine" because I was.
- Be careful of the traditions you start: It's easy for the tooth fairy to write elaborate, teeny tiny letters in sparkly pink ink and leave natural, wonderful presents in exchange for the little pearl once or twice but it's not so easy when it's the umpteenth time and she is seriously suffering from sleep deprivation.
- Record everything: I didn't but do have half filled diaries that I cherish. I envy a friend (who coincidentally has no TV) but filled a wonderful family book with words and pictures. It's so much easier now with blogs and Blurb books. There really is no excuse!
What do you wish you'd known before you had children?