Top ten things you will do as a parent that you will not like

You think you won't, but you will.

Like Katie Price flashing a nipple on her wedding day some things in life are destined to happen.

Once you have children you will find yourself doing lots of things that you said you would never do.

If you do not have children or plan on having children please feel free to enjoy this list with a smug aloofness (imagine you’re a member of the Bullingdon Club) and when people tell you that you’ll be missing out when you’re older remember it basically comes down to this:

We’re all going to end up confused and needing help would you rather have your bum wiped by someone who hated you as a teenager or a complete stranger?

Here is my list of things I thought I would never do but ended up doing when I had them there children.

1. You will baby proof your home too soon then spend the next few months unable to get into your cupboards or up the stairs.

When babies are born they don’t even realise that their hands belong to them.

They are therefore unlikely to stick fingers which they don’t know they have into electrical wall sockets.

They are also highly unlikely to be opening the fridge or falling downstairs of their own accord whatever their older siblings may tell you.

This does not stop parents rushing to make their homes as safe as possible. What this really means is that your baby will grow up in an environment where there is a lot of swearing. Those plastic plug socket protectors can only be removed with the blade of a knife and a liberal application of cursing. The stair gates will become a dangerous trip hazard for sleep deprived parents and the fridge lock will leave you unable to access any chilled food. (Top tip: Put a child lock on the cleaning cupboard and never clean again.)

By the time your baby does start to move around and explore the safety measures will have been removed in a cloud of foul language and you will only remember to put the stair gates back when you watch your beloved child bounce down the stairs head first.

2. You will sniff your baby’s bum to check for poo.

I remember seeing parents do this and thinking: Yuk, that’s disgusting. I am never doing that.

It is disgusting, and yes I have done it. Lots.

Even more disgusting is the reason why parents do this.

Let me spell this out as clearly as possible: parents sniff baby’s bums because they no longer have the mental capacity to detect the smell of shit even when they are sat right next to it.

Children are disgusting.

I blame the parents.

3. You will go out to eat and sit colouring in a picture of a man with a moustache making a pizza.

Because when you go out to eat with small children you are given colouring-in kits. (I know, amazing!)

There are two reasons you as an adult will get stuck in:

Firstly, it is good fun to colour in a picture and you are fantastic at not going over the edges.

Secondly, you are too tired to have a conversation with the person sitting across the table from you. You have only left the house because neither of you has the energy to throw beans in a pan.

Think of this as me time. Who needs massages or spa days when you can spend 15 minutes in silence neatly filling in a cartoon of a pizza chef?

Even if it is quite challenging creating a realistic skin tone from 4 primary colours. Honestly how do they expect small children to manage?

(Top Tip: I carry my own skin tone crayon*)

4. You will refer to your partner as Mummy or Daddy.

Even though all the books say you ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT do this because you and your partner will immediately stop fancying each other and you will never have sex ever again. I wouldn’t worry about it. There are many, many other things that will stop you from having sex – number one being the baby (total cock blocker).

Unless of course you are one of those people who looks sexy colouring in (Ooh look I’ve gone over the lines, naughty mummy).

In which case having a baby is going to be a total game changer.

5. You will fantasize about the upstairs deck of a bus.

The top deck of a double decker bus will become like the VIP area of the nightclubs you used to frequent – a place of mystery and intrigue, reserved for people whose lives are infinitely more exciting than yours.

But this is not the VIP area of some hot new club.

It is the top deck of a bus.

And you have a pram and cannot get in.

You have officially the most depressing life on the bus.

No wait…. there’s a man getting on at the next stop who is arguing with a copy of yesterday’s Metro.

Phew, saved.

6. You will announce that you are a parent even when it is not relevant.

When you are not with your children you will feel the need to let people know that you have children stored somewhere else.

God forbid anyone should see you sitting there on the train and not realise that you have a baby at home.

"Can I take that seat?"

"Yes, I’ve got a nine-month-old baby at home."

"Actually I’ll stand."

7. You will shout “Look Cow! Horse! Dog!” every time you see an animal.

You will do this even when there are no children with you.

It is a conditioned response, especially when you are in a car, because this is when you are most desperate to entertain your children.

Travelling in a car with small children is like shaking a can full of soda, one small flick and it will all kick off and everyone nearby is getting a sticky face.

8. You will laugh at Michael McIntyre’s jokes.

Just the stuff he does about being a parent.

You will either laugh because you find his parenting material funny (improbable) or because you are tired and grumpy and glad bad things are happening to Michael McIntyre (more likely).

9. You will reassess what constitutes soiled clothing.

You’ve been wearing that jumper all week but is it actually dirty?

Yes, yes it is. It is a dirty jumper.

Once you have a baby the washing basket becomes less of a place to put washing in and more of a storage receptacle for clothes that are not quite dirty enough.

Vomit and poo stained clothes will forever be jumping the washing queue leaving clothes that are just plain old dirty in laundry basket limbo. Until you decide you need to change and then you will sort through your dirty clothes and refresh them with a baby wipe.**

10. You will drop your baby.

Or, even better smack its head on the door frame in the middle of the night after spending hours rocking the little bugger to sleep.

Peaches Geldof was photographed talking on the phone while dropping her baby out of her pram. I don’t care what you think of Peaches to me she is a fellow mother, a young woman whose own mother was actually pretty fabulous.

And she dropped her baby.

It happens.

This or something like this will happen to you but the good news is there is unlikely to be any paparazzi on hand to catch your moment of shame.

Dropping your baby is not bad parenting. It is just parenting.

———

If you have children and find things on this list you haven’t done please leave a comment and let the rest of us know how you managed it.

If you do not have children yet why not make your own list of things you do not intend on doing, pin it to the fridge and cross them off one by one as you watch all your principles vanish when the baby arrives.

———

*I absolutely do not do this but I have definitely thought about it.

**This may just be me.

Eeh Bah Mum is a mother of two small children who writes about the funny side of family life. So far she has asked the internet Is My Son A Dick? (Answer: yes, probably) and compared her toddler daughter to Margaret Thatcher. This post originally appeared on her blog and is crossposted here with permission.

A woman in Berlin pushes a cart full of toddlers. Photograph: Getty Images
Getty
Show Hide image

Justin Trudeau points the way forward for European politics

Is the charismatic Canadian Prime Minister modelling the party of the future?

Six months after Canadian election day, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party continues to bask in the glow of victory. With 44 per cent of support in the polls, the Liberals are the most popular party amongst every single demographic – men and women, young and old, and people of all educational backgrounds. 

While most European mainstream parties only dream of such approval, this is actually a small dip for the Liberals. They were enjoying almost 50 per cent support in the polls up until budget day on 21 March. Even after announcing $29.4 billion in deficit spending, Canadians overall viewed the budget favourably – only 34 per cent said they would vote to defeat it.

Progressives around the world are suddenly intrigued by Canadian politics. Why is Justin Trudeau so successful?

Of course it helps that the new Prime Minister is young, handsome and loves pandas (who doesn’t?) But it’s also true that he was leader of the Liberals for a year and half before the election. He brought with him an initial surge in support for the party. But he also oversaw its steady decline in the lead up to last year’s election – leadership is important, but clearly it isn’t the only factor behind the Liberals’ success today.

Context matters

As disappointing as it is for Europeans seeking to unpack Canadian secrets, the truth is that a large part of the Liberals’ success was also down to the former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s extreme unpopularity by election time.

Throughout almost ten years in power, Harper shifted Canada markedly to the right. His Conservative government did not just alter policies; it started changing the rules of the democratic game. While centre-right governments in Europe may be implementing policies that progressives dislike, they are nonetheless operating within the constraints of democratic systems (for the most part; Hungary and Poland are exceptions).

Which is why the first weeks of the election campaign were dominated by an ‘Anybody But Harper’ sentiment, benefitting both the Liberals and the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP). The NDP was even leading the polls for a while, inviting pundits to consider the possibility of a hung parliament.

But eight days before election day, the Liberals began to pull ahead.

The most important reason – and why they continue to be so popular today – is that they were able to own the mantle of ‘change’. They were the only party to promise running a (small) deficit and invest heavily in infrastructure. Notably absent was abstract discourse about tackling inequality. Trudeau’s plan was about fairness for the middle class, promoting social justice and economic growth.

Democratic reform was also a core feature of the Liberal campaign, which the party has maintained in government – Trudeau appointed a new Minister of Democratic Institutions and promised a change in the voting system before the next election.

The change has also been in style, however. Justin Trudeau is rebranding Canada as an open, progressive, plural society. Even though this was Canada’s reputation pre-Harper, it is not as simple as turning back the clock.

In a world increasingly taken by populist rhetoric on immigration – not just by politicians like Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and other right-wingers, but also increasingly by mainstream politicians of right and left – Justin Trudeau has been unashamedly proclaiming the benefits of living in a diverse, plural society. He repeatedly calls himself a feminist, in the hope that one day “it is met with a shrug” rather than a social media explosion. Live-streamed Global Town Halls are one part of a renewed openness with the media. Progressive politicians in Europe would do well to take note.

Questioning the role of political parties today

Another interesting development is that the Liberal party is implicitly questioning the point of parties today. It recently abolished fee-paying, card-carrying party members. While this has been met with some criticism regarding the party’s structure and integrity, with commentators worried that “it’s the equivalent of turning your party into one giant Facebook page: Click ‘Like’ and you’re in the club,” it seems this is the point.

Colin Horgan, one of Trudeau’s former speechwriters, explains that Facebook is “literally a treasure trove for political parties”. All kinds of information becomes available – for free; supporters become easier to contact.

It was something the Liberals were already hinting at two years ago when they introduced a ‘supporters’ category to make the party appear more open. Liberal president Anna Gainey also used the word “movement” to describe what the Liberals hope to be.

And yes, they are trying to win over millennials. Which proved to be a good strategy, as a new study shows that Canadians aged 18-25 were a key reason why the Liberals won a majority. Young voter turnout was up by 12 per cent from the last election in 2011; among this age group, 45 per cent voted for the Liberals.

Some interesting questions for European progressives to consider. Of course, some of the newer political parties in Europe have already been experimenting with looser membership structures and less hierarchical ways of engaging, like Podemos’ ‘circles’ in Spain and the Five Star Movement’s ‘liquid democracy’ in Italy.

The British centre-left may be hesitant after its recent fiasco. Labour opened up its leadership primary to ‘supporters’ and ended up with a polarising leader who is extremely popular amongst members, but unpopular amongst the British public. But it would be wrong to assume that the process was to blame.

The better comparison is perhaps to Emmanuel Macron, France’s young economy minister who recently launched his own movement ‘En Marche !’ Moving beyond the traditional party structure, he is attempting to unite ‘right’ and ‘left’ by inspiring French people with an optimistic vision of the future. Time will tell whether this works to engage people in the longer term, or at least until next year’s presidential election.

In any case, European parties could start by asking themselves: What kind of political parties are they? What is the point of them?

Most importantly: What do they want people to think is the point of them?

Ultimately, the Canadian Liberals’ model of success rests on three main pillars:

  1. They unambiguously promote and defend a progressive, open, plural vision of society.
  2. They have a coherent economic plan focused on social justice and economic growth which, most importantly, they are trusted to deliver.
  3. They understand that society has changed – people are more interconnected than ever, relationships are less hierarchical and networks exist online – and they are adapting a once rigid party structure into a looser, open movement to reflect that.

*And as a bonus, a young, charismatic leader doesn’t hurt either.

Claudia Chwalisz is a Senior Policy Researcher at Policy Network, a Crook Public Service Fellow at the University of Sheffield and author of The Populist Signal: Why Politics and Democracy Need to Change