A minimalist baby toy area 😉

 

Welcome to part ii on my thoughts after one year of parenting. In part one we looked more at the financial side, buying stuff for baby and paying for entertainment. This time I’m just going to spew out some more random thoughts that popped into my head throughout the course of the year.

Fun fact: This post was originally titled “Thoughts after 3 months of parenting” but I never had the time to get round to finishing it and posting it so it turned into a year! 🙂

 

clutter, convenience, and the exploding volcano of shit waste

 

Clutter magnets – As UTMT expertly points out in his latest post, kids are clutter magnets and you will have a constant battle to keep the amount of crap really handy stuff laying around to a manageable level. I think there are a few reasons for this:

  • You will get given lot’s of stuff. Gifts, hand me downs etc…
  • You will also end up buying lots of things you don’t actually need because…
  • Things are so cheap (especially at nearly new baby sales and online Facebook selling groups) that there is rarely a “do we really need this” line of enquiry, it’s more of a “let’s get it in case we might need it”.
  • To compound these first 3 facts, baby then decides to be all awkward and grows out of things very fast and you forget or can’t find time to sell or donate them on!

I do think when people hit baby number two, there would be slightly chances of extra clutter as you’ll know exactly what you need so there is less chance of buying crap that is basically useless, although this certainly isn’t a given looking at most peoples houses habitating 2+ children!

Beware the waste gremlin! – On a similar theme, as a lover of the efficient and non wasteful life, you may initially be alarmed at the amount of waste you are generating. Everything baby related comes with lots of unnecessary packaging, and is invariably made of plastic that will be chucked into a landfill to sit there not decomposing for thousands of years. And of course you then have the disposables such as nappies and wipes and so on, which you tend to get through A LOT of. While this made me sad initially I eventually learned to stop worrying and love the end of the world, in ERE speak, and just get on with my life. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely opportunities every day to reduce the waste and we try to do that as much as possible, but when you have a shit explosion that’s gone everywhere I am not fretting about using a few extra baby wipes or even just chucking a destroyed baby vest straight in the bin anymore, it’s just not worth your sanity with everything else going on!

 

Disposable or reusable nappies? – I was really keen to try reusable nappies but didn’t like the sound of second hand ones, and the new packs of the swanky velcro ones*(<–affiliate link) seemed so expensive as to nullify any economic advantages so we tried the good old fashioned “terry towelling nappies” as you can buy 12 wraps for as little as £15* from amazon. The experiment didn’t go down to well or on for very long as the aforementioned shit explosion happened roughly one hour from putting it on. What with the extra time and wipes needed for clean up, and the fact that you have to use liners anyway it just didn’t seem worth it for us so we quickly went back to disposables. Again at first I felt bad about this as it was quite a feeble effort but having spoken to various experienced parents (mainly aunties) who were around before the time of disposable nappies, they all unanimously voted that they weren’t worth the hassle and they spent their whole lives washing and cleaning up after them (which obviously uses more electricity). I obviously don’t have anything against reusable ones and if you managed to use them with success then kudos to you, in fact if there are any other parents out there that did I would love to hear your experience and give us your hints and tips in the comments below please?

 

Convenience is still over-rated – I can see why convenience products to parents are such a big business as free time is short if not non-existent. Pretty much all non-essential activities have gone straight out of the window, for example I haven’t been composting our veg waste. It’s a 5 minute job but I just haven’t been bothered! I will start again soon, promise! 😉

1 Year Update Note: (Don’t worry I have started doing this again since I wrote that sentence about 9 months ago!)

There are a multitude of products that are all vying for your attention and claiming they will make your life easier and save you time, and it is very tempting to get the wallet out. The trick is to remain healthily skeptical of any claims made and only make a purchase when you really think it is really necessary. And obviously even then try to see if a hand me down or second hand purchase is viable.

 

Stuff. Huge mountains of stuff. – Never one to hammer home a point here… But continuing down this line you will start collecting lots of stuff, again a lot of it from hand me downs. Some of it can be really useful and some totally not:

  • Useful – bottle steriliser – saves you boiling bottles in the pot and therefore saves energy
  • Useless – bottle warmer – OK it was only £2 and second hand but its very bulky and oh look, we already have a microwave that warms milk up in about 30 seconds.

I’ll leave it to say that you will likely have a fight on your hands to keep “stuff” to a minimum and in our house that fight is well and truly on already 🙂 – 1 Year Update Note: Yep, still on going!!!

 

Irrational behaviour? Me? Never!

You may find yourself all of a sudden start acting rather irrationally. For example, the midwives tell you that because your baby is small she will lose heat more quickly and therefore you need to keep things warm around the house. This little fact meant the huge overreaction of leaving our heating on 1 for the whole month and the bill shot up to it’s highest I’ve ever seen.

Exhibit #1 people:

Horrendous gas bill alert!

Horrendous gas bill alert!

This was compounded by the fact that I needed to reprogram our heating after doing some electrical work when doing up the kitchen, which literally takes about 3 minutes, but couldn’t be bothered due to time constraints already discussed 😀

I guess the moral of the story though is that your irrational fears as a new parent go into freaking overdrive and it’s even harder to quiet the little man/lady/devilish being on your shoulder telling you the worst will happen if you don’t do X,Y or Z irrational behaviour. I would say cut yourself some slack initially but try to get back to your normal, hyper-rational self as soon as you can, as you don’t want to make this the norm going forward! Companies selling you crap will try to play on those fears so it’s good to get these feelings in check quick sharpish, my fellow parental noobs.

 

baby books and advice

We read two books which I will summarise below:

  • Mindful Hypnobirthing* – Sophie Fletcher: We went with this just to see what it’s all about after my cousin recommend it to us, and seeing as I have been meaning to read more about mindfulness I suggested to Mrs T we check it out from the library. It’s a bit airy-fairy in places but there is definitely some good advice in there, which can probably be summarised with the following simple words: “Stop worrying and relax”. Easier said than done when the task at hand is the equivalent of pushing a melon out of your arse of course but there are exercises and techniques to try to achieve this. If you are interested in mindfulness, self hypnosis techniques and/or generally have an open mind about this sort of thing then give it a go but otherwise I would steer clear! 🙂
  • Your Baby Week By Week: The ultimate guide to caring for your new baby* – Dr Caroline Fertleman: I have to be honest and admit I haven’t read much of this one but what I’ve read has been very good, with lots of practical advice and plenty of reassurance when you start to freak out that something is wrong with baby. Basically the idea is that you read a chapter each week to find out what is going on with your baby in terms of development and what to expect. Mrs T read it along week by week and has found it very useful, so on that basis we would recommend it!

I have to say that I was all set to be the super dad that read up on every last detail and all the good books but things just crept up on me and before I knew it she was here and then it’s way too late to be doing any serious kind of reading.

Do I regret this? Actually no, not at all. In fact I think you can read too much advice 2 and this can actually be detrimental to your parenting experience as you “have to follow” what the book says. There is nothing worse than a book bore parent who tells you you’re doing every wrong according to Dr Xchanferhousen (or whatever). Most of the important advice is freely available from health officials, the internet or, god forbid, you actually talk to other experienced parents such as your Mother and Father, and I think as an intelligent human being that can wrap your head around concepts such as FI, the rest is best left to your own instincts. However this brings us nicely onto…

 

Baby advice – Having said that about the above books, it is clear that a lot of people think they are an expert on how you should bring your child up it seems, probably because they have read a book or something themselves. Or maybe they are just an over opinionated person who happens to also be a parent. I tend to smile, nod, and subsequently politely ignore most of what other people say and do what I think is best and I think that is ultimately what you should do to 3.

The classic example of this is the 19 page Mumsnet threads that you end up reading (normally at 2am) where mums go to argue about the finer points of parenting where you get all different opinions and even once a general consensus has been made the last post on it is always “But it should be up to you as a parent, there is no one right or wrong way to do things and you should just do what ever you feel is right for your baby”. Well, why didn’t you just say that in the first place!?!? 🙂

One example that comes to mind: “should you sleep baby on his side?”

Some would have you believe this is some sort of death sentence, in reality while the current science and studies show that sleeping on the back is best with regards to cot deaths, you are talking about maybe a 1% tops higher chance if they sleep on their side. In case you haven’t guessed we had a patch where we couldn’t get baby T to sleep unless she was on her side, when she had a cold early on. We ended up letting her sleep on her side to actually let her and ourselves get some sleep!

Final point here: of course I am not saying never take anyone’s advice. That would be silly! But unsolicited advice should be generally ignored and you should take the best of what else you hear and leave the rest (same as in any other area of life then!). We have even ignored a large chunk of what health visitors have ordered advised us to do and speaking to other parents on this subject they have done the same. Some of the health visitors have been lovely but some do seem to be little hitlers who think they know best and seem to love to point out every little mistake you may have made. Again just nod politely and move on with your lives 🙂

 

Birthday parties – After the initial round of gifts you receive which are in general extremely useful, I have a sneaky feeling that at least 50% of parents would secretly love to just say “no gifts” (and really mean it) even by the time you’re little cherub reaches the ripe old age of 1. It is also obvious that this would be futile because our social programming is so strong that people would just buy them anyway. And then of course if someone buys your baby a present you have to buy them one… and so the cycle of needless buying of cheap crap toys goes on, filling the coffers of toy manufacturers and shortly after landfills the world over. We kept TFS Jr’s party to close friends and family so the present count was modest (by normal standards at least) but if anyone out there has had a full blown kids party and managed to successfully implement a no gifts policy I am all ears on how that went down?!

 

final final thoughts

Woah… that turned out to be an even longer one that part i.

I’ll keep the wrap up short by just saying one more quick thing, if you are wondering whether parenting is worth it either financially or emotionally or whatever, then it totally is! If you even remotely like children 4 then you should just ignore all other worries and go for it, as they all turn out to be very ill founded in my experience (OK, I’ll admit more sleep would be nice but the rest…)

Well done if you read this far and I hope you found it entertaining. The end!

As usual would love to hear more of your experiences so get writing your comments below!

 

And remember to always be on guard as they’re always plotting something against you….

Notes:

  1. I mean not literally “ON” but, if it got to cold the rads instantly kicked in. You get what I mean right!?
  2. Convenient that my opinion happens to be inline with exactly what I did, isn’t it? 😉
  3. Wait did that count as advice, so now you should ignore what I just said and actually NOT ignore what other people say? In which case you should now follow my advice and ignore… We’ll call this the TFS baby advice paradox. I’ll get a Wikipedia page up for it sharp!
  4. And are in a stable relationship and have your finances sorted… OBVS!