Tom = 100. A few thoughts and observations:
- becoming a parent is daunting. But once you get into it, most of the day-to-day stuff is actually quite straight forward, at least with a very young baby. There isn’t much more to do that put food in at one end and deal with the product at the other end. But there is interaction too, an increasing amount as the baby grows older. Tom now giggles and laughs at his silly mum and dad, and he is curious about everything that is around him. And that is very rewarding.
- I don’t know if we are very lucky with Tom, but he has turned out to be very adaptable. We spent all of last week in Ireland with Tom spending long periods in the car, being in a new place every day and sleeping in four different cots over an eight day period. But was he fazed? Not a bit. He takes it all in his stride, either because he is a happy baby or because we try not to coddle him too much and have, right from the first days, encouraged him to feel confident in his environment by being there, caring for him, but not smothering him.
- as parents, you must be adaptable too. We’ve found ourselves changing mucky nappies on the floor of restaurant toilets. A four hour car journey becomes a six hour trip once you build in a couple of Tom breaks in service stations for bottle and bottom. Early to bed and early to rise is the new reality (still looking forward to the wealthy and wise bits). But, in the grand scheme of things, these are not major changes – you just need to think ahead a bit (and I must admit that Hels is better at that than me – she’s the one who always packs plentiful supplies of nappies and wipes as well as a change of clothes for Tom, wherever we go).
- you will find yourselves pulled in all directions. If you think that, as a couple, you find you are short of time compared to when you were single (two lots of family, two lots of friends), add in a baby and that feeling is doubled, trebled. Everyone wants to spend time with the baby (apart from those who don’t want a baby anywhere near them) and you could easily find yourself running here, there and everywhere. Planning is the key again – we try hard to block out chunks of days where we don’t have anything to do or anyone to see, just so that we get some “we time” (“me time” is a thing of the past).
- having a baby is expensive. Child benefit helps, but it pays for little more than nappies and wipes. And there is a certain competitiveness amongst parents of a certain sort – they want the best push-chair (guilty as charged – but well worth it), the smartest clothes (Tom has smart clothes, but a very large proportion of his wardrobe was purchased second hand, either via the NCT or from a couple of good second hand stores), the most toys (Tom has some, but not thousands – and we tend to prefer simple toys to fancy things with flashes and beeps) and the best of everything else. It pays to step back and remember that most of it isn’t necessary – we didn’t have it when we were children and nor did our parents. And the less you have, the more room you will have in your house!
- you will catch yourself swearing in front of the baby (for instance, when you pour scalding water over your hand when fighting with the microwave sterilizer) and think “hmm, I really should stop that, else his first word will be fuck”.
- and it’s all worth every minute, especially when he has a "chat" with his dad in the morning.