Most parents will tell you that raising a child is the hardest thing they’ve ever done.
Harder than anything they’ve faced in the workplace; harder training for a marathon. Er, I would imagine.
It’s not just because you’re sleep deprived all day every day for five years (and counting) but because it is impossible to do it right. Impossible.
It starts, seemingly, from the second they’re conceived – pregnancy is a minefield of decisions and ways you can unwittingly f!ck up your unborn. Will you have those tests? Find out the sex? Play Beethoven to your fetus through a strange belly speaker?
And then they’re born, and once again you’re faced with a whole load of people who know exactly what you should do in order that your child have the ‘best start’; a stress-free unmedicated water birth? A c-section? An epidural? Breastfed or bottle?
It doesn’t stop there, oh no.
In the first year you will have to make so many decisions, and I don’t mean to scare you but who knows how they will impact further down the line*…
Rather than just throw a dice to decide the fate of your offspring, I’ve summarised twelve of the things you will come up against in your first year, and exactly how you should deal with them in order not to screw your child(ren) up.
The name you saddle your kid with has to go with them at least until they are old enough to change it by deed poll, so choose wisely. Give your child an unusual name and they’ll get bullied and no one will be able to spell it, give them a common one and they’ll never stand out from the crowd. Best to stick with something unique and traditional.
Dummies protect against SIDS and are a magnet for germs. Affect their teeth but provide comfort. Soothe reflux but cause speech delay. Cause nipple confusion but allow your poor nips to rest. Look awful but who the hell cares and worry about your own damn kid.
Food is fun until they’re one except that it isn’t really fun, it’s serious f!cking business.
Pureeing everything means your baby will not learn to chew or use a knife and fork but but led weaning can be a choking risk and f!ck me, it makes a lot of mess.
Make sure that you make everything from fresh because homemade is best, even if you can’t cook, you have no time and your baby won’t eat it anyway.
Be mindful of giving healthy snacks, such as fruit and vegetables. If you don’t let them have anything unhealthy they’ll binge on chocolate and sweets when they’re older.
Gina Ford says you need to set a consistent routine from day one so that your child knows what to expect but of course you must be entirely baby led and your baby will let you know what they want, plus some babies just won’t go to sleep when they’re supposed to and Gina Ford doesn’t even have any bloody children.
If your baby cries, you should always soothe them immediately, so that they will know you are there and form a healthy attachment to you but be aware that if you do you’re making a rod for your own back.
Co-sleeping is dangerous and should never be done, but is natural and recommended by experts. Crying it out and controlled crying are cruel but babies need to learn how to self settle for the good of their development and quite frankly mama needs sleep.
If you carry your baby they’ll feel safe and secure and will sleep, but they won’t learn to nap in their cot and will expect you to carry them everywhere you go.
Spend as much time as you can playing with your child so that they can learn although they won’t learn to play independently. Over-stimulation will mean they won’t sleep but you need to wear them out so they sleep.
Teaching your child to use a tablet from a young age is of course very lazy parenting and will teach them skills they will use at school. TV is the devil and shouldn’t be used to entertain under 3s at all unless you need to make dinner and CBeebies is pretty educational.
Leaving your child with someone else is an important step in helping to foster healthy independence and deprives them of the strong parental bond, but you might be able to get you hair cut occasionally. You’ll save a lot of money by keeping them at home and it’s the best place for them although you’ll be depriving your child of learning in a structured setting and socialising.
You need to work outside of the home in order to set a good example to them and pay the mortgage, although if you don’t stay at home with your child then they’ll feel unloved and why would you have kids to pay someone else to look after them?
A baby brother or sister is the most amazing gift that a child can receive; a live in playmate who will deprive them of their parent’s complete love and attention. You won’t be able to provide them with as much financial support as an only child and they will never learn to share. It’s easier and harder. Don’t leave too big of an age gap so that they get on but make sure it’s big enough so you can spend time with them one on one.
Remember, do the right thing and they’ll be an outstandingly intelligent individual; screw it up and you’ll land yourself with a mini serial killer.
*They probably won’t. Try not to sweat it.