People often refer to “the joys of parenting,” but always sarcastically. It’s usually after being peed on or after cleaning up a turd off the floor. Despite the fact that new parents see their child as special and unique, there are patterns that developing children follow pretty closely. Your reactions to them are often similarly predictable. At six months things are really starting to happen – laughs, movement, eating and teething. If you’ve got one of your own, see if any of this rings true to you.
You argue (and lie) about how many times you got up in the night
And pretty much everything else to do with your little bundle of joy. “I got up three times last night,” you say, hoping your partner doesn’t remember it was only once. You also hype up the number of nappy changes you’ve administered up by about 40 per cent when a tiff arises. Knowing what you can get away with is key, but seeing as you both probably know what this is, things probably end up about even.
You can fall asleep in about 30 seconds
Even if you found it difficult to get to sleep before, you don’t now. You can now quite easily sleep on buses, in cars and, sadly, in the pub. In bed you’re off before you’ve fully closed your eyes. Sleeping until 8am is a luxurious lie-in.
You start to see the pros of bottle-feeding
The sterilising, boiling the water, measuring out the powder and cooling the milk down really used to seem like an arduous task. Until six months when you move on to pureed proper food. While largely hilarious, spoon feeding takes longer, still requires heating and is a seriously messy job, often requiring a costume change.
Referring to your partner as “Mum” or “Dad” is now the norm
Your transformation into your own father or mother takes a huge leap forward when you have a child of your own. You are now mum or dad and they are grandma or granddad. It surprises you how easily you can refer to your partner as mum or dad, not least because of the striking oedipal inference.
Sex is largely replaced by sleep
Your bed used to be a place where you had sex and then took a nap. Now it is the place where you crawl into at the end of the day and pray for calm. You may find time to squeeze in a bit of nookie every so often, but, like meal times, you try to get it finished as soon as possible because a crying baby can real spoil the party.
You’ve lost all inhibitions about using the baby voice in public
You used to feel silly cooing and gaga-ing in the presence of others, but not any more. You may be getting funny looks in the supermarket queue, but the little fella thinks your farting sounds are hilarious so you keep doing them. The carte blanche to act as big an idiot as possible can actually be quite liberating. Just make sure your baby is there when you do it.
Work is relaxing
This may depend on your job, but there will still be a part of your brain that can relax because it knows you’re not on baby watch. Even that guy directing traffic in rush-hour Calcutta is thinking “I know I won’t be changing any nappies until I’ve finished this 12-hour shift. Sweet.”
You can change a nappy in 20 seconds
Practice makes perfect, and you’ve probably changed nearly a thousand nappies if you’ve been doing your share of the work. Unfortunately, 20 seconds is still plenty of time for your son or daughter to pee all over you, which they’ve perfected even better than you and your nappy changing.
You "don't know where the time has gone"
After the first month it probably seemed like the baby had been around for ages and you couldn’t remember a time without them. The next five months, however, have flown by. Don’t expect this time acceleration to stop any time soon either. Before you know it they will be getting tattoos and drinking Bacardi Breezers.
You've rediscovered the marvel of Calpol
The one medicine you didn’t mind taking when you were young was Calpol – not the red stuff for older children, but the purple stuff that tasted like strawberries. You will by now have bought your first bottle and your child is now on the road to full Calpol appreciation at the same time as having minor pains like teething pain relieved. I bet you’ve had a cheeky taste too.
Clothes-wise, comfort and ease prevail over style
This applies mainly to your baby, but is probably starting for you as well. Can you really be bothered to put your little fella in those tight, coarse baby skinny jeans that his aunty bought him? You probably did at first, but now you know that one of the benefits of being a baby is being able to wear a baby-grow all day. Don’t deprive your baby true comfort. If it was socially acceptable you’d be in a baby-grow too.
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You're sure your child's teething but there's still no teeth
His hands have been in his mouth for what seems like months, but he still has that toothless gummy smile. His cheeks are often red and his mouth is sometimes sore, but still no teeth. Like everything to do with your baby that doesn’t seem it, this is normal. Apparently the teeth often move around under the gums for a bit before they come up.
You'll do anything for a laugh (from them)
Leave your pride and self-respect at the door of the maternity ward, because soon you’ll be making stupid noises, voices and faces like there’s no tomorrow. It doesn’t really get much of a response for the first few months, but by six months they are cracking up at plenty of things. If you can get one of those guttural Sid James laughs from your baby you know you’re on to a winner.
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You no longer get that Friday feeling
Your social life isn’t completely ruined, but the work doesn’t stop at 5pm on a Friday quite like it used to. You’re more likely to pass Boots on your way home than the offy. This is all true unless you can negotiate in advance with your partner or a sympathetic baby-sitter. Then you’re like a kid at Christmas.
The less vital household chores no longer get done
An ironed shirt becomes a rare beast in your house because ironing has been given up for all but the most important occasions. The lawn has to get pretty wild before it gets cut and you can forget about painting that fence. Cooking and cleaning are still necessary, but even these aren’t carried out to the same standard as previously.
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All of the above is a small price to pay
Everyone moans about the negatives of having a new baby – mainly because they are numerous. It’s just a good thing that the sum of them is completely overwhelmed by the fact that you love your baby and love having them around – shitty bums and screaming tantrums and all. It’s a difficult thing to decipher prior to parenthood, so don’t bother trying to explain it. You’ll just end up sounding cheesy.