Remember before you had children, you were full of all these wonderful ideas of how you were going to bring them up?
You’d watch other mums and think, oh I’ll NEVER do that when I have kids. Your offspring would be the most well-behaved, adorable children, and you would be the most perfect mum EVER. Fact.
So what happened?
Oh that’s right. You gave birth.
And just like that (or definitely within the first three months) all of those Judgey McJudgeface thoughts went right out the window and all you could think was – holy crap, how do I SURVIVE? Am I right? Yes. Yes I am.
(If you think I’m wrong, just you wait. You’ve obviously not been doing this long enough yet.)
So here’s a few of the things I never thought I’d let my children do. Or at least not AS MUCH as they actually do. But now they’re a daily occurrence. (Hangs head in shame – sort of)
10 THINGS I NEVER THOUGHT I’D LET MY CHILDREN DO – UNTIL I HAD THEM
My children wouldn’t have dummies
Yep, no baby of mine was going to have a *dummy. Awful things, no need for them, will ruin their teeth, hinder their speech, not to mention what they LOOK like.
So my first had one for a little bit but wasn’t at all interested. I’d just lost the will to live trying to soothe him and pretty much forced one on him out of desperation. By the time he was four months, it was gone because he just didn’t give a shit.
With the twins, I went out and bought some BEFORE THEY WERE EVEN BORN! (You do stuff like that when you know you’re about to have three kids under the age of 2.5 and are in absolute panic mode). Of course I didn’t intend to actually USE them. No, no, no. My children wouldn’t need a dummy. My children would self-soothe and be perfect in every way.
First night home – the dummies came out. You can read about what is probably one of the worst nights of my life here. And here’s why…
This pair bloody LOVED the dummies, and they worked. They stopped crying, well until they fell out. So the dummies stayed. Of course I was going to get rid of them when the babies were six months old. Obviously. I wasn’t going to have a child of mine walking around with a dummy in their mouth. No way. There’d be none of this ‘give them to the Dummy Fairy when they’re three’ bollocks. Nope, not on my watch.
Mmm, let’s just have a think about that one for a minute. They’re currently 22 months and STILL have a dummy to sleep. Only to sleep mind, they don’t even go downstairs, let alone outside the house. But given half a chance they’d have them in their mouths 24 hours a day. So, help me out. How does the Dummy Fairy bollocks ACTUALLY work?
My children wouldn’t sleep in my bed
This leads me onto the whole co-sleeping thing. Before I had children I never wanted to let them sleep in my bed. And don’t get too excited thinking that underneath I’m a ‘gentle parent’ after all – I still don’t.
But when it’s 4am, and you’ve been up and down to the Twins’ room approximately 354 times, things change. Okay, I exaggerate, it wasn’t quite that many – 16 was our worst night ever. When you’re the most shattered you’ve ever been, when all you want to do is ignore everyone and sleep for three months’ solid, and when you’re in that so tired you’ll call your partner all sorts of unpleasant names in the middle of the night stage – needs must.
You’ve tried everything. Dummies, milk, nappy change, cuddles, too hot, too cold, Calpol, etc etc the last resort is – ‘let’s bring him in’. My heart sinks – for numerous reasons which I’ll no doubt write about one day (In fact I did – read why I hate co-sleeping here) – as I shifty across to the edge of the bed knowing sleep is now firmly off the agenda and no amount of coffee is going to make up for it the following day. And if the three year old has a bad dream he wants to come in too, and after about three attempts of settling him, I usually let him. Despite always saying I’d never let them in my bed, they do come in on occasion. And not because I want them to!
My house wouldn’t be filled with plastic toys
This is a goodie, isn’t it, and surely one we ALL say pre-kids. I wasn’t naive enough to say they’d never play with shit plastic crap, (although I know a few deluded people who DID say that). But I didn’t want my whole house to be taken over with it.
I have to admit at the beginning I definitely leant towards the beautifully-made, attractive *wooden toys. Like we all did. And I do still love them. But alas, they fill up just one box out of about 15 in my house. Most of the rest overflowing with – er shit plastic crap. Actually it’s unfair to say it’s all crap, some of the *toys we have are lovely. But they’re still plastic, brightly coloured (not to mention NOISY!) And don’t even get me started on the horrendous ‘free with a magazine’ toys. And the fact my three year old loves them the most!
My children wouldn’t eat things I’d not yet paid for in the supermarket
To me this was always a definite no-no. Not only is it just plain wrong to open stuff you’ve not yet paid for (yes I know you WILL pay for it – but that’s not the point), it’s teaching your children that they don’t have to wait for anything, or indeed pay for it! I know people who head straight for a pack of biscuits and happily work their way through it during the shop. They then pay for the empty packet at the end. I guess their kids are happy but that’s not my style.
I always make sure I have enough snacks and entertainment in my bag if I have to take the boys shopping. But that’s all fine and dandy until the three of them go through the bag of rice cakes in record time, you’re still only half way round the supermarket, and they won’t be fobbed off with a drink or toy. I’ve only ever done it a couple of times, but last week was one of them.
The twins were grabbing pretty much every item out of the trolley and launching it on the floor whilst screaming for all the vaguely tasty-looking items I took off the shelves. My ‘f*ck-it moment’ occurred when I picked up a box of their cereal bars and they went nuts. I caved, opened the box and gave them half a bar each. It kept them quiet for all of about 30 seconds so not even sure why I bothered!
My children wouldn’t be eating sweets or chocolate
What an irresponsible thing to do! I mean, why would you let your precious little cherub put such bad things in their mouths. What about their teeth? Childhood obesity? And all that sugar and those e-numbers? Oh give it a f*cking rest will you, Susan. None of us force sweets down our kids throats like there’s no tomorrow.
Most of us (not all, granted) let them have the odd bit of sweet stuff. Me included, obviously. I was pretty strict on this with my eldest. The first time he ever had cake was on his first birthday – I let him have THREE WHOLE MOUTHFULS of his own birthday cake (I’d lovingly made of course – cos you can do that when you only have one child apparently – never to be repeated though).
I’ve not actually been that different with the Twins either if I think back. They’ve only had chocolate in the last maybe three or four months, and they’ve never had ‘sweets’ as such. But it’s much trickier second time round when they see their older brother tucking into a bit of cake he’s brought home from a birthday party, or eating some of his Easter egg.
I wasn’t actually even going to buy them an Easter egg this year – then changed my mind the day before and bought them a £1 milky bar buttons one at the last minute. I’m all heart, aren’t I? They joined in the egg hunt in our garden but won’t be eating all the chocolate (I’m doing them a favour by eating it myself), but I’m certainly not as strict as I thought I’d be before I had them. Everything in moderation, isn’t that what they say?
My children will only ever drink water
Mmm this is a tricky one, isn’t it? What happens when your child just won’t drink water? However much you try and try, they drink about four sips all day and you worry they’ll dehydrate, and all sorts of horrible things will happen to them.
Well you carry on trying, supplementing it with watery foods, but then one day put the tiniest (and I mean so tiny it didn’t cover the bottom of his drinks bottle) amount of squash in his drink. And he drinks it. All of it. And from that day forward, you get over your pre-kids self, accept there are bigger battles to fight, and let him have weak squash because it means, er, he’s drinking.
I’d rather have a child who drinks than doesn’t. He’s never had a fizzy drink, he only has a Fruit Shoot on special occasions (from an occasional visit to McDonald’s though, so don’t go thinking I’m THAT good), and surprisingly his teeth haven’t fallen out yet. If once he’s at school in September water is the only option, he’ll have to drink it. Same as he’ll HAVE to eat school dinners which I know he won’t. But shit happens, and he’ll have to do it eventually.
My problem now is what to do with the Twins. They’re still on water. They drink it more than their brother ever did, but what’s happening more and more is that they just steal his drink and have that instead. I’d like them to drink water for as long as possible, of course I would. But who knows?! There are definitely worse things to lose precious sleep over though.
I won’t give them a dessert unless they eat their dinner
Okay, last of the foodie ones, I promise. But I always thought I wouldn’t let my children have a dessert unless all their dinner (or tea as most of us Plymouth-types like to call it) was eaten. And I have to say a good 50% of the time I do actually stick to this.
It’s a great bribe for my three year old – even though dessert is only ever fruit, a yoghurt, a fruit pot, or a Yollie if I’m pushing the boat out. This usually works on him – mainly because he’s such a fussy eater that his meals are pretty, shall we say, limited. I know he’ll eat them usually, mainly because they’re so damn boring. The struggle comes when I give the Twins something they’ve not had before in a bid to broaden their range of meals. But they point blank refuse.
Last week both of them actually lifted their untouched plates off their high chair trays and put them slowly, and determinedly down on the table with a ‘f*ck you’ look in their eyes, I swear. So obviously they’re not getting a dessert. Stick to the rule and all that. But then I start to think they’ll be hungry. In the middle of the night. And cry. In the middle of the night. So for purely selfish reasons, depending on my mood, I sometimes cave and give them some fruit just so they’ve had something. Supernanny would be so annoyed at me!
My children wouldn’t interrupt me when I’m talking
Clearly I had no idea what a three year old ACTUALLY was. What the hell was I thinking? Had I ever even met a child of that age? I mean FFS, I can’t even finish a sentence without being interrupted. No matter how many times I now say “I’m talking, just wait” or “Hang on a second, I’ll be right there”, does it make the blindest bit of difference? Absolutely f*ck all. The Twins don’t say very much yet. What an absolute shitshow it’s going to be when they do.
They won’t jump on my furniture
I’ve always had a thing about children disrespecting furniture. Obviously ingrained into me from my parents. So this one was a definite for me. My children would not be bouncing all over the settees. Not because I was worried they’d hurt themselves (although now we have ceramic tiled flooring I do have mild panics) but because they should be taught not to, and they should bloody well listen. None of my three, or their cousins are allowed to mess around on furniture at their grandparents. Like, not even roll a toy car along it. (Yep, that strict). So what about at my house? I rest my case…
My children won’t have (much) screen time
Okay, so I’ve saved the best for last because quite frankly I want to go back to my pre-kids self (and anyone else who thinks this to be honest) and punch us all in the face. No screen time? No *iPads, *Kindle Fires, TV, Netflix, Cbeebies iPlayer? WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. F*CK???
Well let’s just say it all started off fairly well. I mean, it’s not like a week old baby can actually even see a screen. But come on, how many of us now don’t use screen time at all with our kids? If you don’t, I am more than happy to concede you have pipped me to the post in the Parent of the Year Award.
Do I really want to rely on screen time? No I don’t. Do I have three children under four to get ready for bed, at least half the time on my own? Yes I do. Is this whole shitshow helped considerably by allowing them to watch Cbeebies on my bed as I get them changed into their pjs one by one? Yes. YES IT IS!
So I do it. And I will continue to do it, with absolutely no mum guilt or shite like that. Because it works for us. It’s not perfect, it’s not ideal, but it helps me get through that last hour of the day without absolutely losing my shit. We tried bedtime with no screens a few weeks back. What we got was three hyper children running around the upstairs of our house, shouting, screaming, being total dicks, and winding each other up just before I wanted them to sleep. So the iPad is back. And it’s staying.
So there you have it. Just a few things I thought I’d do and not do – BEFORE having children and realising you’ve basically got to do anything you can that works for you. Follow your heart and to hell with what anyone else is doing!
What do you now do that you thought you never would?
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Did you enjoy this post? You might like some of my others, so how about you have a read of The best (and worst) things about having twins, 5 ways my children take after me (that I wish they didn’t) or Why it’s okay to not love every minute with young children?
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