This one is for all of you out there thinking of starting a family. You've seen the Pampers adverts. You've cuddled your friend's baby when they're all squeaky clean, fed and bursting with baby giggles. You've done all that and thought, I want that. I'm ready. Bring on the sleepless nights and leaky boobs because it can't all be that bad.
And it's not. You're correct. But if you think you'll just be a little bit busier than normal and you can get plenty of naps in because 'babies sleep all the time', right?
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You're part of the way there but listen up, folks, because I'm going to be honest with you: your life will never be the same again.
No, no - you're not listening. I want you to bring your face as close as you can to the phone or tablet or (if you're rocking vintage tech) the PC. You need to be so close, your eyes start to cross.
YOUR LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN.
Right. Now you're paying attention, I'm going to relay the three things I personally wish someone had told me whilst I was working towards getting sprogged up. They are rather general, I grant you, but are meant with the sincerest of intentions and I hope they prove useful.
1. Do the things you always wanted to do
Travel. Climb a mountain. Go to festivals. Go to gigs. Go OUT. Get drunk (if you want to) and lie in bed all the next day. Get lost in the middle of the countryside and enjoy the glorious silence that is no crying, no Paw Patrol theme tune and no plinky-plonky toy jingle.
Don't get me wrong, you can still do these things with a child, but it may test your organisational skills to the limit and you'll forget the word 'spontaneity' exists until it pops up on Alphablocks.
Enjoy being a couple. Be romantic. Go see a movie. Go out for dinner. Rejoice in not having to book a babysitter yet. Having a child brings endless reward, but it also makes you appreciate the simple things. And it helps you appreciate each other.
2. Remember: your partner is only human
Childbirth affects us in different ways. It's a big change to accommodate, emotionally as well as practically, but once the initial burst of excitement has passed, it's easy to let the exhaustion and self-doubt overwhelm you. The tiredness causes the most damage. The most kind and considerate of people can transform into irritable, antagonistic a******s.
They may seem to have become a different individual. You may wonder where the sane person you devoted yourself to has gone.
They have not gone. They are still them. Just as you are still you. A frazzled, unshaven, exhausted version of you, yes. But still you. They may be ratty, they may say some things they didn't mean, they may pummel a few pillows but it will pass. Just know it won't be like this forever.
Forgive and forget, hug it out, then get back to wiping that sick off the sofa.
3. Invest in the right equipment
Practically speaking, there's a lot of shizzle out there on the market that you just don't need, so recommendations from family and friends who've 'been there, done that' are invaluable.
The best thing I ever bought was my travel system (or 'pram' for those of you not yet down with the lingo). It off-roads like a dream and I can fit three large bags of shopping in the basket, plus a changing bag. It is a bit on the bulky side, but undertaking the varied weight-lifting duties of motherhood, means I now have biceps like She-Ra and heaving it in and out of the boot is a doddle.
Babies are a lot like weddings in the world of retail - adding the tag 'baby' also adds £s to the price. So spend wisely.
After all, you want to save some pennies for all those date nights you'll continue to enjoy, don't you?