Baby, I’m Yours (yours until the poets run out of rhyme, in other words until the end of time) – 1965 – Barbara Lewis

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If there is one phrase that is guaranteed to get the eyeballs twitching it is this, ‘a new report has shown…’ This phrase has long been co-opted by barely pubescent internet content creator’s whose sole intent is to create snappy content that will keep us all clicking (I’m told that is apparently good for advertising). Like Gollum with his ring these trivia miners are so focused on uncovering new and titillating news bytes that they will literally accept anything with the moniker ‘research’ or ‘report’ that happens to land in their mail box. Without so much as a cursory examination this ‘research’ is promptly repackaged (making it slightly less palatable and cerebrally nutritious than dung wrapped in a copy of the National Enquirer) before being slopped onto a web page somewhere, waiting like a jobs worth in the school carpark to force its unwitting victims into a painful eye roll (the kind in which one laments the state of the world in general).I know the cost of these eye rolls first hand as I suffered a particularly forceful occurrence just last week which resulted in a rare headache that lasted for hours.

These ‘reports’ are, if nothing else, an equal opportunities employer for general stupidity. They either tell us what we already know, such as ‘breathing air is likely to sustain life’ or something patently ridiculous of the sort ‘couples who own at least one pet badger, an egg whisk, a self-cleaning oven and a set of modestly priced hand luggage are four times more likely to buy fish on the third Tuesday of March during a leap year.’ The origin of these ‘reports’ are either shrouded in mystery or derived from some spurious institution such as the ‘clickbait institute for pointless studies’ of which I became the self-appointed dean and chancellor of a little over two minutes ago. They are also just as likely to contradict each other, telling us variously that a glass of wine is either likely to result in small pox, cancer and social ostracisation or eternal life, wealth and fame.

All of this brings me to the report I want to talk about today, which is I suspect from one of these aforementioned schools of research. Why then am I sharing it with you? Well, the reason is as simple as it is singular. It is pretty tricky being a parent and this report agrees. Obvious or not, in this era of Facebook, in which every family online looks like they’ve come out of a mixture of a food  commercial where everyone is jumping for joy or a bank mortgage promotion, in which every family looks like an extra for the Wonder Years, it’s nice that someone says it like it is i.e. that it can be a bit difficult sometimes. This may be the journalistic equivalent of teaching grandma to suck some eggs, but it is heartening to hear nonetheless.If you’re not feeling like you’ve quite reached the apotheosis of the whole parenting thing, here are some choice bullet points to make you feel a little bit better.

It takes 14 months apparently to get a handle on the whole parenting thing.

35% of respondents were totally unprepared for what lay ahead and 49% were ‘feeling shocked as they adjusted to their new lifestyle.’

The fun-to-work ratio fell from 52% fun to 48%.

Tidying up officially blows with 25% citing this as the worst thing about new parenthood. 22% thought that bed-time and zombie like levels of sleep were the worst. 14% said the battle to get the little one off to sleep was beautiful torture (okay they’re my words, but after a day of tidying up, cleaning up, constant noise, constant requests and fatigue, the promise of ‘me’ time can sometimes feel torturously close and yet so far away). This ‘research’ confirms that the vast proportion of a parent’s life is consumed with their new role with most new mums and dads getting as little as 2.9 hours of free time on a weekday evening.

These facts led to (this is where it gets shocking folks) 32% of respondents agreeing with the statement that they enjoyed being a parent only ‘some of the time.’ Is this shocking or expected? Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

I think it’s probably prudent to put in a disclaimer at this point. The study pool for this research was most likely small and it’s doubtful the questions put to the participants were subject to the same checks and balances of more robust research. This being said, simply knowing that there are some out there finding it difficult can be strangely comforting, not so much schadenfreude as solidarity.

On a positive note parents confided that they found the little things rewarding with 38% agreeing that eliciting a smile from their little one was the most fulfilling feeling they experienced. This obtained a satisfaction rating of 8.5 out of 10. I must confess that I’m unsure how one quantifies a feeling like this. What does an 85% good feeling look like or equate to? It also made me wonder just what gets a 10?

After a solid gold smile, teaching your child something new was the next best thing, coming in at 14%, followed rather incongruously by sharing and cuddles at 13%. I find it slightly odd that a smile scored so highly, but the tactile and sustained activity of cuddling and sharing was billed relatively low. This is even more confounding when one considers that the average parent in this study recorded holding their babies for an average of 6.5 hours a day. Maybe the prolonged nature of the activity took some of the wonder out of it. The average amount of fun had with baby came out at 4.4 hours a day which makes me think they must have combined the two activities at some point.

In terms of development the key milestones in order of anticipation and acclaim were sleeping through the night, walking and then talking. This makes perfect sense on reflection. Walking comes before talking generally and the desire to sleep (for both baby and parent) comes before all of them.

The revelation that for nearly 50% Monday is the most tiring day of the week perhaps comes as no surprise. Monday has been the Judas of the weekdays for millennia, parent or no parent.

And now, drum roll please, the statistic we have all been waiting for……
66% of all parents regularly (yes, regularly) get annoyed with others on social media who portray a perfect family. I’m afraid I may be guilty of this too. Damn, this blog writing honesty. This revelation was compounded by the fact that 73% felt pressure from family and friends to be the ‘perfect’ parent.

So what is the take home from this?

Well, parenting is hard, but it is also completely and utterly worth it. More importantly,however, is the advice to live in the moment. They are after all your moments and no one else’s.

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