Things I Wish I'd Done Before I Had Childrenby Sarah Hurst
So many things are taken for granted when you are DINK (Dual Income No Kids). You think you know what you’re letting yourself in for…you’ve BEEN a kid yourself, you remember it well – hell, you have an affinity with those little guys! They LOVE you. You make them laugh. You’ve changed a few nappies, done a bit of babysitting, squidged a few new-borns and found it REALLY hard to give them back. You want your own so much that you’re prepared for all the sacrifices (and yes, they really are worth it) but perhaps you weren’t quite so prepared for some of the things you’d miss…or rather, the possibilities that now feel out of reach. There is nothing more likely to make you want to do something than suddenly realising that you can’t. It’s a bit like when I was pregnant with my second child, and I had an insatiable desire to go ice skating. I haven’t skated since I was 12 years old, but some off the cuff comment about the things I could no longer do (yes, ice skating was mentioned) by a well-meaning midwife meant that all I could think about for days and nights was popping on a pair of skates and reliving my Torvill and Dean moves (Fire & Ice anyone??).
Beached whale on the ice images aside (hey, I grow big babies), if you are pregnant or trying for a baby yourself and are wondering just what you should pop on your pre-kids bucket list, let me help you along with that….
1) Learn how to open crisp packets silently – better still, learn how to eat them silently too. Now, this is something I am convinced my own parents mastered…why? Because I spent the first few years of my life believing that adults could eat crisps without making a noise, and I COULDN’T WAIT to be able to do that myself! One day I plucked up the courage to ask my Dad how adults managed this and he literally snorted before choking on an actual crisp. Apparently, I’d misunderstood. Now? I’m not so sure. Either that or they only the soft, stale crisps that were left. Could be just as believable actually.
2) Slowly decrease the amount of sleep you need – have a go at splitting your night up a bit too by getting up periodically and walking around the end of your bed whilst rocking and humming a favourite tune. See how quickly you can fall back to sleep afterwards, and put things in place to help you do this easily (NB: Can’t be alcohol-related).
3) Invest in some satin sheets and satin pyjamas – but WHY you ask me? Well, this one is mainly for the ladies, post-birth. Whether you have delivered your baby via C-section or vaginally, it’s going to be hard moving around for a while. Getting in and out of bed can be a little uncomfortable, especially if you have a co-sleeper crib next to your bed. The easiest thing to do is slide, and the easiest way to do that is by having silk or satin on top of silk or satin. Just make sure your bed is flat and doesn’t dip in the middle – the last thing you want it to accidentally slide towards your other half and give them the wrong impression you are ready to think of using your vagina for anything other than birthing a baby. As if.
4) Go out for dinner ad – hoc, whenever you want! – I can’t tell you how much you will appreciate these memories when you have an overtired toddler who needs a bath and the last thing you want to do is cook and eat at home. There is nothing more to add here – just do it, do it often, enjoy it. Don’t do what I did, which was STOP going out when I got pregnant because I needed to save up my money to afford a baby. I bought stuff I didn’t need, I wish I’d just gone out for more meals.
5) Practise doing things one-handed – start to replace cosmetics and household items with things you can use with only one hand, such as pump bottles and sprays. No screw tops. Start to think of your teeth as a third hand. Exercise your toes so that you can easily pick up small items from the floor with your feet. If you have an animal, train it to fetch things like remote controls or bars of chocolate for you when you are pinned under a sleeping baby. Encourage yourself to prefer food that can easily be eaten with one hand too. You’ll be grateful for this skill for years.
6) Buy an Octopus. Practise putting it in the car seat – whatever you do, don’t bang any part of its body on the car door, especially the head. Strap it in within 2 minutes. Avoid injury to face. If it falls asleep, practise removing it from the car seat without waking it up. If successful, celebrate with a night out and remember how that feels.
7) Get ready for the aftermath by reading my post – Having a baby - the things they never told me about pregnancy, labour and motherhood.