Pre-Little Bean I did my homework. I read every pregnancy manual/website around so I knew when her eyelids would be developing, when to expect indigestion, and how long stage two labour would likely take.
The big day came, everything went (relatively) smoothly. All the carefully curated knowledge I'd assimilated in the preceding nine months was a huge help and I felt decidely smug at being so well prepared.
And then…I came to the shocking realisation that I had done absolutely no reading about post-birth. I didn’t even know which way round a nappy went. This was not good.
Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you look at it) I had lots of reading time, usually in the wee hours when feeding. The pregnancy books were quickly replaced with the most popular baby-rearing books (you know which ones I mean). My plan was to read as many schools of thought as I could and then come to my own conclusions. One of them must suit my/our lifestyle?
Apparently not. My Little Bean had obviously not done her homework either and wasn't giving any of the clear signals indicating hunger, tiredness, over-stimulation etc. that all babies are supposed to. Instead she went from happy baby to manically unhappy baby within a few seconds, with no eye-rubbing, glassy staring, opening of mouth or anything else to give us the slightest inkling what we should be preparing for. We were reactive rather than proactive in my house.
The manuals, I have to say were all pretty useless. I got most of my info from the internet, googling random searches like ‘why won’t my baby go to sleep?’, ‘will I go to hell for giving her a dummy?’, ‘is it acceptable to kick in the shins the next person who tells me theirs slept through the night from week one?’
Tips from other mothers were a godsend, online forums a lifesaver and founts of anecdotal but incredibly useful information. Which is why I highly recommend this book.
Drawn from the message boards of Mumsnet.com it’s full of useful tips and observations from other mums sharing their wit, wisdom and frustration. My favourite chapters include 'Drink wine and hide: the art of playdates', 'Don't call it a Twinkle', 'Let them eat dirt', 'Don't buy a Moses basket' and 'If you prefer his brother, take it to the grave'.
My advice for new mums (because as a mum already I am now qualified to dispense uncalled for advice at any given moment) is to save yourself a fortune in baby manuals and rather find your own parenting way through other mum’s input, common sense and trial and error. And if you need a laugh, because let’s face it the only way you can get through parenthood is by hanging on to your sense of humour for all you’re worth, then treat yourself to this book to keep you entertained during the early hours. You’ll soon discover, that no, it’s not just you.
Why did nobody tell me? They just did.
*This book was sent to me by the publishers for review