- No sleep… actually scratch that. Of course you’ll still sleep – you’ll be so exhausted that your eyelids will flutter and close at every opportunity. However, you can absolutely give up the notion of enjoying uninterrupted or quality sleep for the forseeable future. With a baby in the house, sleep comes to mean a few precious hours or minutes of shut-eye snatched here and there. You’ll become so finely attuned to your baby’s sounds that you’ll become near nocturnal and awaken at the merest hint of a snuffle. Even when you’re well past the infant and toddler stages you may still have sleep issues – kids with nightmares or separation anxiety calling out or worse, climbing into your bed. Will you get through this? Eventually. And in the meantime you’ll get used to it. So, when you’re shuffling off zombie-style for another night feed you can console yourself with the thought that one day in the not too distant future, your baby will be a teenager who has to be levered out of bed with a crow bar.
- Ready meals… a lot of them. Of course, you’ll manage fine in the first couple of weeks, lulled into a false sense of security by your freezer stocked with the culinary creations you whipped up in your pregnancy nesting phase. Your partner will be on paternity leave and so around to cater and you may even find that friends and family turn up to visit the baby proffering a welcome shepherd’s pie. But, a couple of weeks in, when the visits slow down, your partner returns to the rat race and your exhaustion levels sky-rocket, be prepared to spend a lot of time poking forks through plastic films and waiting for the reassuring ‘ping’ of the microwave. That’s if you remember to eat at all!
- No sex…When you’ve just pushed a human being out of your lady parts or have experienced someone rummaging around in your innards, it’s fair to say that you probably won’t be in the mood for ‘sexy-time’ any time soon – and who can blame you! Even when sensation starts to return to your nether regions you may struggle to feel in the mood or indeed to find a moment where one or the other of you isn’t comatose. As your child grows, libido levels return, but then the probability that they will toddle in and catch you in flagrante, tends to act as a natural form of birth control.
- Questionable personal hygiene… imagine a time in your life when going to the toilet or brushing your teeth is a luxury rather than a necessity. This is that time! The 2-hour bubble bath is replaced with the 2-minute shower and you may even find yourself having a wee with a sleeping baby strapped to your front. The hair is the first to go! The days of the moisturising leave-in conditioner or a proper blow-dry are well and truly over. You may even find that your hair starts dropping out in the months after giving birth. You won’t go bald – this is a temporary phenomenon caused by your tumbling oestrogen levels – but you may find you’re leaving more hairballs on the carpet than the cat.
- Never to finish a cup of tea… you will continue to make yourself and your partner cups of tea and coffee as a parent. But you will never, ever see the bottom of a mug again. Your home will be littered with unfinished beverages. Whether the cups are half full or half empty will depend on your levels of exhaustion.
- Annoying comments… these can come from anyone and anywhere, so be prepared to smile and breathe through your clenched fists in the face of the smug comment – ‘oh, our Jimmy never did that!’; the ridiculous comment – ‘when are you having the next one?’; and the downright bleedin’ obvious comment – ‘You look knackered.’
- A new shape… if you worried about your figure before, you’ll probably view it with true nostalgia and fondness now. However well you exercised and ate in pregnancy saggy and squishy will replace taut and toned – at least for a while. Some women find that their shape is irrevocably altered after childbirth – your bust size or waist size may have grown, heck, you may find your feet remain half a size larger than pre-pregnancy, but give yourself and your body a break and acknowledge what you’ve both been through, then treat yourself to a Krispy Kreme.
- To own nothing nice. Ever! Faeces, vomit, saliva… Within weeks your home, posessions and entire wardrobe will be covered in someone else’s bodily secretions. This is just the tip of the iceberg. As your little ones grow you can expect to find toast in your DVD player, tiny handprints on your Farrow and Ball-painted walls and much more. You won’t be alone. www.sh*tmykidsruined.com is an entire website dedicated to kiddy destruction. Get used to the fact that everything you knew and loved prior to becoming a parent will be trashed, broken or very, very used. You won’t be sitting in an empty house however, as you will own an unfeasible amount of primary-coloured plastic which you will variously trip over, step-on and/or find lodged down the side of the sofa until the end of days.
- New viewing habits
Every new parent discovers the joys of a whole new raft of daytime programming – from innane chat shows (Lorraine Kelly, Jeremy Kyle, This Morning) through property porn (Escape to the Country, Homes Under the Hammer) to soaps you never knew existed (Doctors), you’ll find yourself able to watch dross with impunity, as you relish the downtime. As for evening TV however, forget anything after the watershed. This has nothing to do with whether it’s child-appropriate. You’ll just be too darn tired to make it past 9pm. As baby grows you’ll tune into child-centric TV, become au-fait with terms such as Ninky-Nonk and Tinky Winky and develop inappropriate crushes on energetic CBeebies presenters. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
- Going out – anywhere – will never be the same.
You’re used to going out, right? You’ve done it loads of times. Chucked your shoes on, maybe a coat if it’s cold… Going out used to entail grabbing your bag, wallet, keys and phone and slamming the door behind you. No more. As a parent, going out for a simple stroll becomes an enterprise requiring military strategic planning. By the time you’ve packed the baby bag, done a last minute feed, assembled the travel system, gone back inside for a last minute nappy change, strapped baby in the car-seat, gone back inside to fetch dummy/baby carrier/spare muslins, jammed travel system into the boot, temporarily locked yourself out and waited for your neighbour to turn up with the spare house key… you’ll be ready to go back inside, close the front door and have a nice sit down on your sofa.
* None of the above will bother you in the long run. As a new parent you’ll discover new things about yourself and your partner and feel your bond growing with your baby daily.