1. Buying only newborn clothes. I made this mistake with my first, buying every vest and sleep suit in ‘New Baby’ that I could lay my hands on. When I went to the chest of drawers to locate the next size up, I discovered I had one pair of swimming shorts and a flat cap. So that was useful.
2. Failing to restock the nappy bag. Picture the scene. I’m out with the kids, feeling pretty smug that we have made it out to the real world and everybody is safe and happy. Then I realise that the baby has pooed, it has exploded up his back, and I have no baby wipes, no change of clothes, and probably no spare nappies. I do have a musical rattle, strip of paracetamol, and box of raisins though. Marvellous.
3. Running the bath several times every night. I find the perfect temperature, get distracted, discover it’s too hot and run just the cold tap, get distracted, discover it’s too cold – and repeat.
4. Standing on the bathroom scales after having a baby. At some point in my post-birth daze with my first, I purchased some bathroom scales from the supermarket on a whim. I’ll just quickly check how much weight I’ve lost, I thought. It’ll help me stay motivated, I thought. I stood on those scales and cried, before throwing them down the rubbish chute. Then I marched to the fridge and grabbed a bar of Dairy Milk to console myself. I should’ve just done the latter.
5. Clipping a finger when cutting little nails. I have done this to both babies. I concentrate fully on the task in hand, line up the finger, keep my breathing nice and steady, double check the clippers are in the right position. And yep, I still do it.
6. Drinking alcohol. It’s a mistake I have often made. The kids are in bed, the babysitter has arrived, and I am dressed up for a night on the tiles. I’ve put the kids to bed on my own for five nights straight, dealt with more toddler tantrums than you care to remember, and cooked dinners with a teething 7-month old attached to my hip. I definitely deserve this. What I haven’t considered, however, is that I will be doing all these things again tomorrow, with the added inconvenience of dashing to the bathroom to heave.
7. Making promises to a toddler. In my experience, it is the law of the world that if I promise our 2-year old that we will be visiting the park that afternoon, the car won’t start. If I promise him pink ice cream, there will only be chocolate. If I promise we will see a friend for a play date, they will cancel. It is far better to keep quiet and watch his face light up when things goes right. Because as tempting as it is to use our future plans as bribery for good behaviour, if the plans go wrong, the consequences are pretty grim.
8. Hoping Daddy will find it just as tough. Don’t get me wrong – I am all for Daddy daycare. This happens in my house at least once a week. The mistake, however, is thinking Daddy will find it just as tough and confess undying admiration for your skills as a mother when you walk back through the door.. This will not happen, as the children will sit quietly reading like little angels, the television will be switched to a sports channel while he reclines in comfort, and bedtime will work like a dream. The same applies to grandparents and babysitters. Your hard work will remain unappreciated.
9. Leaving half-drunk mugs of tea or coffee within reach. It is a law of parenting that you will only finish half your mug of tea or coffee before a small person demands your attention. The big mistake I make on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis is leaving them where small hands can grab them or thrown balls can knock them over. We made the mistake of purchasing a white sofa in our pre-kids days. It’s now mostly brown.
10. Waking a sleeping child. Whether I am gently lying my hand on their chest to check they are breathing, moving their squished-up faces away from the bars of the cot, or creeping into the room to grab something I left behind at bedtime, it is absolutely inevitable that I will wake them up at least once during nap or bed time. Two and a half years into motherhood and I still haven’t learnt to effectively creep. It’s worth a silent scream into a cushion.