Some wonderful insight and advice from Bruce Devereaux – Ten Things I want to tell new parents :
Everyone from your mother to your mother-in-law, from your butcher to odd strangers wearing tea-cosies on their heads in the street, will offer you advice on raising your baby, whether or not you ask for it or even acknowledge their existence. Just nod politely and then do whatever the hell you want. They’ve had their chance to stuff up a kid, now it’s your turn.
Don’t base your nursery design on the ones you see in movies. Here’s the thing, and I want you sitting down for this because it may come as a bit of a shock: movies aren’t real. Here’s another thing: they have budgets in the millions. You don’t. There’s a lot of stuff you can buy which, quite frankly, you don’t need. Bassinets look great in photos but aren’t necessary for a baby to sleep in: use the cot. My mum slept in a drawer when she was brought home from the hospital and she’s mostly fine. A bed makes for a great change table – but change nappies on your partner’s side, just in case there’s leakage. And as for baby baths, just use a flat plug for the laundry tub until you’re happy using your actual bath. All the trimmings won’t make you a better parent, won’t make your baby any happier and won’t make the whole experience more enjoyable, it will just put an unnecessary strain on your purse strings, vastly diminishing your alcohol budget. Plus a cluttered nursery just means more stubbed toes.
Who cares if one of your friends has a kid with the same name you like? I’ve seen friendships ruined because someone ‘stole a name’. Are they worried it’ll be so confusing their kid will go home with the wrong parent? When I was in Brisbane I knew best friends with the same first name – Jess. No one ever confused them because they had different faces, personalities and surnames. Oh, and only one was a girl. The thing is, most kids will hate their name at some point anyway, so don’t over think it and don’t be turned off by what names other people like or are calling their kids. Call your baby whatever the hell you want. Afterall, you’ll be the one yelling it.
Cloth nappies are the equivalent of trying to generate your own electricity using rubber soled shoes and a rug – it all sounds nice on paper but in my experience the reality is there wasn’t enough time in a day. I tried cloth nappies with my oldest. My wife couldn’t understand why she needed to buy another pack of twelve every couple of weeks. I knew why. If my son did a poo I’d just throw the whole mess in the bin. I don’t know the mechanics of what happens to the milk to make it come out the other end so nasty, but I want as little to do with it as possible. Go disposable – trust me, your life will be shitty enough.
It is never too early to begin chore training – let’s start out as we mean to continue. I don’t mean with your bub, of course. When you bring your baby home from the hospital have your husband changing nappies, making bottles and extracting burps from the get go. If you don’t you may find yourself charged with all kid related duties until the little buggers finally leave home on their European gap year. Yes, I know their cuteness is unprecedented in the history of mankind and no one in the world is capable of satisfactorily wiping poo off their bum like their mum, but you’ve got to think ‘big picture’ here. Hog the baby at your own peril.
Men will be counting down the six weeks from when you have a baby. Why? Don’t pretend like you don’t know: you were there when the doctor said it. If your little bundle was born at 2 in the morning, you can expect a tap on the shoulder in the wee hours exactly 42 days after that joyous event. Your big hunka spunk really loves you, sure, but part of his logic for settling down was the idea of having sex on tap for the rest of his life. Well he’s been sitting on a bar-stool at the pub with no beer for a month and a half now, and the man is thirsty! Yes, we’re fickle and shallow and perker-lead – but that’s why you love us. Of course, doctors cause a lot of these arguments with their ‘you can have sex in six weeks’ pronouncement. There’d be less marital strain if they used a more accurate measure for when the sex tap will be turned on again. Something like, ‘once the baby is sleeping through, when teething is finished, after your wife is back to a size 10, once you’ve helped with the dishes and if she ever again has the urge.’ Then both parties would know where they stand.
When people offer you bags of their kids clothes, ALWAYS take them. It’s not being cheap, it’s recycling. Given how quick the little buggers grow out of their clothes, it’s also common sense. Of course, you don’t have to use it all. Pick out any nice stuff from the bag of clothes and pass the rest on to someone else. Most importantly, the money you save using hand me down clothes can pay for more and better alcohol. And don’t kid yourself, you will be needing alcohol, that’s why I keep bringing it up.
There’s a prevailing opinion which says using the telly as a baby sitter is bad parenting. Poppycock. Teaching kids to ‘roll their own’ and blow smoke rings is bad parenting. Turning Sesame Street on and sticking your kid in front of the tube so you can have a quiet cuppa or go to the loo is like a sanity booster shot. But it doesn’t need to stop there – you could conceivably use the tellysitter for housekeeping, cooking dinner, gardening, afternoon drinks with the girls and naps. On a not entirely unrelated topic, we have perhaps the most extensive DVD collection of kid’s movies outside of Blockbuster.
Kids develop at their own pace. While the rumours Einstein didn’t talk until he was four aren’t true, doctors were genuinely concerned he was mentally challenged. As we all know, it ended up the challenge was for all of us to keep up with him mentally. The point is, if your baby hasn’t rolled at 4 months don’t necessarily book a doctor’s appointment. Don’t worry too much about your bub hitting those milestones – just watch and be amazed when they get there under their own steam, whenever that is. Having the only one year old who isn’t walking at your mother’s group doesn’t mean your kid is the dumbest. I have a 20 year old son who still can’t seem to make his own bed – and he’s at university!
Don’t wait until your child is cutting a tooth at midnight to stock your fridge with drugs. Kids have a habit of reaching their pain threshold within minutes of the local chemist closing for the weekend. Always have a good supply of kiddy painkillers and teething gels on hand. And Phenergan. Babies can’t have the Phenergan until they’re two, but then it’s not just for children, is it? Heads up – if you’re struggling with point number 6 (SIX) above, well, if a little was stirred into his cup of tea before bed the randy bugger probably wouldn’t even notice. Just saying.
Bruce started his blog because friends and family kept wanting to know how he managed to feed and clothe such a large family while still having fun and being able to afford holidays and beer. He had no idea, but thought if he started writing things down some sort of pattern might emerge. When not at work Bruce enjoys reading, writing, hiding from his children and not changing nappies. He’s recently taken up the cycling challenge with a view to surviving long enough to see all his kids out the door so he can finally sleep in.