If you are pregnant or have recently had a baby (congratulations, by the way), you will more than likely have done a stupendous amount of reading about what to expect in the first days, months, and years of becoming a parent. As such, you will be familiar with the hundreds of articles and blog posts listing the things you never knew you would do or feel until you have a sproglet of your own. Most of these are fairly common: “You’ll never have a decent night’s sleep again” and “You’ll experience a love you’ve never felt before”, and, to be honest, hardly revelatory. So, for the benefit of mums-to-be and new mums everywhere, I have compiled the definitive list of things you really, really didn’t know about having kids. You’re welcome.
- You will get really big biceps.
If you want arms like Michelle Obama, have a baby. Better yet, have two. With an infant on one arm and a jealous toddler who insists on being carried on the other, you’ll have big guns in no time. My own arms are better toned now than when I was in my early twenties and exercised regularly, a condition I credit entirely to my two boomba babies. From the waist down, I may look like a slightly doughy, thirty-something mother of two, but from there up I bear a striking resemblance to Sam Stosur. If you live in a house with stairs, your bum and legs will get a workout too. Who needs a membership to a swanky gym? (Me. Please.)
- You will despise every modern appliance in your home.
Because they beep. Loudly. Several times. While your baby is asleep. Do manufacturers of these appliances really believe we consumers are so stupid that we need reminding of the fact that we put a container of curry in the microwave to reheat, oh, two minutes ago? The winner in our house at the moment is our new washing machine. It not only beeps once the cycle is finished, it plays a tune. For thirty seconds. Dum-di-di-dum-dum-daa! Your washing is done! Diddly-diddly-doo! I made your clothes clean! Dum-diddly-ding-ding-ding! Aren‘t I clever! It sounds so damned chipper you would be forgiven for thinking that our Fisher and Paykel is heralding the birth of the new messiah.
- You will stoop to a level of hygiene you never thought possible.
We all know that it can be hard to fit in that weekly shower when you have a newborn, and let’s face it, going to the toilet with a toddler banging on the door is never going to be, ahem, as thorough a process as it is when you can do it In Your Own Freaking Time. However, nobody tells you prior to having kids of your own quite how quickly you will become accustomed to being covered in a variety of bodily fluids (none of them yours or your partner‘s, unfortunately), picking bogeys out of baby’s nose with your fingernail (so much more efficient than those useless little plastic snot suckers), and really not caring about that little patch of baby wee on your jeans. And when your little cherub offers you a morsel of chewed food from its slobbery fist? You will eat that. And the bit that fell on the floor too, because you can’t be bothered walking all the way to the bin.
- Your house will become filled with plastic crap.
You may well say in pregnancy that your child will only play with ethically traded, handmade toys made from wood sourced from sustainable forests. But they won’t. Their first Christmas will roll around, and they will be inundated by a deluge of garish, plastic, licensed toys, most of which will require twenty-two AA batteries and will sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in a posh English accent. You will have bought at least half of these toys yourself. Relax, it won’t turn your child into an idiot. I’m pretty sure my kids have some Melissa & Doug toys lurking at the bottom of the toy box, but they still both prefer the Peppa Pig car that plays the theme tune every time you so much as look at it.
- You will become useless at everything.
You will shower in two and a half minutes because you swear you can hear your baby crying in the next room (it isn’t), and so will forget to shave one knee. You will notice this when out in public, probably surrounded by glamorous, childfree women with legs straight out of a Gillette Venus razor commercial. Everything you cook will be burnt, because you had to step away from the pan to release your baby from the headlock his toddler sister had him in. And baby brain? That’s a misnomer, somehow implying that constant forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, and the inability to concentrate are afflictions you will grow out of at some point after having children. You won’t.
- You will laugh like you’ve never laughed before.
Children are funny. Honestly, deliciously funny. Newborns pull funny faces, babies are adorably clumsy, and toddlers waffle on making absolutely no sense and sing at the tops of their voices to songs they only know ten per cent of the words to. Having children is, in this respect, a bit like house-sharing with Uni students. Oh, and they’re messy and smelly too. So, quite a lot like Uni students. Children are also maddeningly indecisive, stubborn, and moody, so on occasion your laugh will take on a high-pitched, slightly manic tone. This, I assure you, is normal.