If you could go back in time to when you first became a parent, what would you have done differently? What do you wish someone had told you about parenthood?

I remember when I first announced my pregnancy, and the advice and information well-meaning family and friends shared with me. I was equal parts confused and scared- on the one hand, I shouldn’t eat nuts or salami in case my unborn baby got sick, but on the other hand, our mothers and grandmothers ate and drank (and smoked!) whatever they pleased so I should do the same.

There’s the usual advice about how many hours your baby should be sleeping, when to start your baby on solids, which is the best baby wipes warmer I should get (along with the best cot, best diapers I should be using etc…),how to handle their first day of school. But there are lots of things no one tells you about, that no one prepares you for.

Here’s what I wish someone told me about parenthood- can you relate to any of these?

What I Wish Someone Told Me About Parenthood

Your lack of sleep doesn’t end when your child is school-aged.

I always thought, yay, once my kids are at school, they will sleep uninterrupted and I’ll return to the land of long slumber. Nope. Nightmares, midnight toilet trips, illnesses, and general “I can’t sleep” situations are a regular occurrence in our household. Weekend sleep ins don’t exist until the teenage years, and my kids love getting up early even during the school holidays!

I’m assuming that once my kids hit 18 years of age, the late nights out will begin, the driving will begin, and I’ll be sitting by the front door until the early hours of the morning praying that my kids are safe.

You can’t stop talking about your kids

Whether I’m on a girls trip, a business trip or a romantic dinner with my husband, the topic of children always comes up. I’ve tried the “no talking about kids” rule, but it doesn’t work for very long. It’s like the more I focus on not talking about them, the more that I talk about them.

It’s like playing the game Taboo!

It’s ok to show your weaknesses

Rather than trying to be the perfect mum, it’s ok to show kids that you’re not perfect. If we don’t expect our kids to be perfect and tell them it’s ok to make a mistake, then surely we should show them that the same rules apply to us?

tips for parents

There’s no such thing as a perfect school

I agonized over this for a long time! Even after my kids started school, I kept wondering whether I had made the right choice. But I’ve learnt that school is an individual choice and while a school may be great for one child, it might not be a great fit for another child. Do what’s right for your own family. Every school has positives and negatives about it.

Don’t do everything for your kids

Are you someone who’s always helping your child out, whether it’s looking for a missing sock or helping them feed themselves? I’ve discovered that as children get older, it’s better to let them solve problems on their own without us parents always interfering. When one of my kids complains to me about something, I now ask “Ok, so what are you going to do about it? How can you solve the problem?” Life presents us with problems every day that we need to solve: deciding what to pack for lunch, what to wear to school and how to find that missing library book. If we’re not letting kids solve these problems themselves, are we setting them up with life skills or depriving them of independence?

Just because you don’t like broccoli…

If I could go back to the start, I would have fed my kids more vegetables when they started eating solids. Even vegetables that I don’t like the taste of. It was easier to give them pureed banana or mushed up apple rather than pureed greens. But how I wish I had persisted!

You end up sounding like your own parents

There’s that moment in your life when you catch yourself sounding like your nagging mother or your strict father. It’s a bit of a shock at first, and you start thinking it’s all downhill from here. But then you smile and think, “Now I understand what they went through as parents”. And then you call them and say you’re sorry for all the trouble you ever caused them as a child!

What do you wish you knew about parenthood that no one told you? Have you experienced any of the tips I’ve shared? Let us know in the comments!