It’s late at night and you’re looking for parenting advice online. Suddenly you’re confronted with list after list of the five things you absolutely should not be doing as a parent. Spinoff Parents editor Emily Writes is no expert – but she does have a top five list for you.
While looking for some advice on how to tackle some new thing my kid is doing that is quite frankly fucking baffling beyond measure I stumbled on a blog post telling me there were five things I needed to stop doing RIGHT NOW as a parent.
Since I have anxiety and I’m a neurotic basketcase, the headline terrified me. Would there be a landslide followed by a flash flood followed by a sinkhole if I didn’t do these things?!? I knew I had to stop what I was doing and read this vitally important information for parents.
Imagine my shock and dismay when I actually clicked into the article and found the advice was stuff like: “stop letting your child watch TV” and, unfathomably, “make sure you kiss them goodnight”.
Kiss them goodnight? How is that going to help us stop global warming and the potential plague of locusts I am somewhat convinced is coming? We are surely in for a nuclear war in the next few years, if not months.
THIS IS NOT GOOD ADVICE.
So I have come up with my own list of ‘don’ts’ for parents. Mostly because inspiration is thin on the ground this week on account of two snotty children snotting all over me every time I try to write.
1. Stop summoning Satan in your backyard in a quest to stop the sun from rising so you get more sleep
We have all been there, I know. Your baby is six months old and you’re like, it’s OK, they’re still a baby, I can take this lack of sleep a bit longer. Then on your child’s first birthday they still haven’t slept longer than two hours in a row. You blink and suddenly realise you’ve had a year and a half of unsolicited parenting advice and you can’t take it anymore and suddenly you’re in the back garden smeared in blood from a goat you just sacrificed and you’re summoning Satan. It’s OK. No judgement. But we need to stop this madness because if the sun doesn’t rise your baby probably still won’t sleep any better because some babies are just assholes. I mean, not assholes, but like just uncaring harbingers of evil and destruction.
2. Stop leaving your children at Chipmunks for months on end for the staff to raise
Honestly babe, no judgement. But like, the people who work at Chipmunks are on minimum wage and they keep finding kids in the ball pit at the end of the day and they only have so many kennels out back you know? And those kennels are for my kids, not yours. It takes a village Karen. And it’s my turn.
3. Stop baking paleo, no sugar, gluten free, vegan, dirt cookies
They taste like sadness. I know you know that I didn’t make these triple chocolate chip cookies. I know you know I bought them on the way to the committee meeting and ate some of them while crying and then put the rest in a container and said I baked them. But you know what, everybody is eating my cookies. Nobody is eating your shitty no joy cookies. You know they taste bad. I saw you spitting them into your Trade Aid bag. End this charade at once. Your reign of terror on coffee groups needs to be over. Absolutely no judgement friend.
4. Stop watching tutorials on how to give your husband a home vasectomy while he’s sleeping
I know he deserves it. But look, not all balls are made the same. And if you fuck it up it’s going to be an issue. I recommend Dr Libby’s highly underrated 127th cookbook How To Kill His Sperm with Kombucha And Other Homestyle Frozen Chicken Nugget Options.
5. Don’t get pregnant just because your smelled a baby’s head and it smelled like heaven
Girl, I know. Every time I see tiny baby feet I start belting out ‘From A Distance’ by the Divine Miss M. I get it. Babies make me crazy. I can be holding a baby and then when I see another baby I want that baby too. I can be pregnant, and literally want to be more pregnant when I see a baby. While my downstairs was being renovated after being completely destroyed by giving birth to a wrecking ball (my second son) I literally thought “I could have another baby”. Babies are bad magic. They just are.
To stop myself getting pregnant I have a few things I do and I am willing to share those tips with you now because I’m a good person. Basically, I scream THEY DON’T EVER SLEEP over and over again in my head every time I see a baby. Punching myself in the eye with a piece of Lego also works. So does intentionally wetting my pants in front of strangers. If I’m really struggling I just Google “baby crowning” and turn off safe search.
6. Stop doing top five lists that have seven items in them
No judgement. It takes a village. We’re all in this together. You’re a good mum and we all make different choices in life. YOU ARE ENOUGH.
7. Stop looking to the internet for advice because it’s all terrible beyond measure
The internet for parents is sort of like a garbage dump. But it’s a garbage dump that’s on fire and sprinkled with poop and broken glass. It’s a garbage dump, on fire, sprinkled with poop and broken glass, put into a blender and then poured over a pile of dead animals while ‘Let it Go’ is played repeatedly on harmonica by that dead-eyed anti-woman protestor in the fedora at parliament.
I mean it. Really. Any time I look for advice online I instantly regret it. Have you ever tried to get advice on what car seat to buy? Never have I seen such seething rage. It would be easier to get a lasting ceasefire on some of the world’s worst conflicts and civil wars than it would be to have a conversation about car seat safety that isn’t hysterical.
“So, just looking at forward-facing car seats and-”
“-FORWARD FACE? WHY DON’T YOU JUST STRAP THEM IN A SEAT MADE OF BEES AND COBRAS????”
Did you know that there is a whole world of advice out there about dummies? Like people care enough about dummies that they actually want to stop people using dummies. This is a thing.
Feeding your baby? You’re doing it wrong (whatever you’re doing it’s not just wrong but it’s DANGEROUS but of course no judgement, just my opinion, everyone is different, this is just my experience, just speaking for myself, as someone who loves their baby unlike you do, I mean if you’re going to feed them that you may as well feed them a sock-full of homemade vodka and toenails but you do you! etc. etc. etc).
Sleep associations? People actually have written advice columns that say that rocking a baby is a sleep association that should be avoided AT ALL COSTS. Other terrible “sleep associations” include:
- Feeding your child
- Looking at your child
- Showing any affection to your child
- Having a child
- Being a human
I mean I don’t know, I would have thought cuddling a baby was the whole point of having a baby but what do I know. Probably enough to charge $299 a session for this advice actually.
I remain convinced though that soon we’re going to find out that the term “sleep associations” was a deep psychological experiment into the memeification of parenting. Like one day some professor will come out with: “We just thought we’d see what dumb shit we can make desperate parents believe about sleep”. And we will beat him to death with Lulla Dolls.
I know why we seek advice in groups. I know why we see mums asking questions like “My baby has tentacles and gills is that normal?” on Facebook. I know why we turn to our phones at 3am for some help to get through the night.
I mean, who else would we turn to?
We turn to the people who know how batshit this parenting lark is. We turn to the people who know how absurd all of the advice is. Fellow parents are the absolute best people to turn to when you’re at your wit’s end.
They know that you’re constantly searching for the answers to the questions that churn inside us like a tsunami or a flash flood:
How can I be the best parent I can be? How can I be the parent this amazing child deserves? How do I be a really good mum for them?
Of course we can’t help but torment ourselves. Our kids are incredible. That moment of loving your child can begin so early. You can love them when they’re just dreams and hopes that can’t even be whispered. They’re in every untold conversation late at night when just one thought runs through your mind over and over “please let me be a mum”.
From when they move in your belly. When the flutter is just a secret between the two of you. Mother and baby. When your body grows and you just want to nourish them and make their temporary home perfect. Grow, grow, grow – I can’t wait to meet you.
And then you do. And you hold them for the first time and look into their eyes. Every day you’re meeting them. Every day you’re falling more and more in love.
You kiss them and each kiss holds all of the gratitude in the world that they have you, and you have them.
Of course you want to know how to do it right. Of course you want it to be perfect. To have the answers so there’s no questions. To make no mistakes with this precious child of yours.
You will make mistakes. You’ll falter. You’ll fall sometimes. You’ll fuck some things up.
You’ll make it right though. You’ll make it beautiful.
Because of all of this searching says something about you.
And all of this searching leads you back to where you need to be.
Just you and your baby – and all the love that you need to make it right.
This content is entirely funded by Flick, New Zealand’s fairest power deal. In the past year, their customers saved $489 on average, which would buy enough nappies for months… and months. Please support us by switching to them right now.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.