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Laura Carter, 39, is mum to three-year-old Rufus and six-month-old Dottie. Rufus has been attending Tumble Tots in Gamston, Nottingham since he could walk and Dottie will join shortly.

‘Writing is a passion of mine as I try to find my way through the minefield that is parenting,’ says Laura.

Here she write candidly about what life is really like on the coalfield of parenting!

LEAVING THE HOUSE

Getting out of your own front door – a crash course in survival.

I’ll just pop out for a pint of milk. Oh, wait. I can’t. I have a tiny human that is completely dependent on me.

Gone are the days you could just grab your keys and purse and head out for the day. Spontaneous pub lunch? Nope. Last minute cinema trip? Not a chance. Leaving the house is a massive headache. Checking you have everything you need is like packing for a trip to the moon- you really have no idea what could happen so you take everything – and I mean everything.

Nappies, nappy bag and wipes – check. But what if he has a sore bum? Better pack ointment. Is it sunny? Best take sun cream, a hat, sunshade for the buggy, a shade for the car and one for the car seat. A blanket in case it gets chilly later. A second hat in case he loses one.

Is it cold out? Then pack a suitcase. Snow suit, hat, mittens, blankets, foot muff, rain cover for the pram. Don’t forget toys, books, teethers, Calpol, his red book, a sling, change of clothes, bibs, muslins and a second hat, coat and mittens. We have a rucksack that wouldn’t be out of place in the military, a car full of blankets and toys, and a buggy bottom crammed with exactly the same stuff that’s in the rucksack.

Even when all these things are ready, you definitely can’t go out yet. You need to wait for your baby to do an almighty pooh just as you get them in the car seat. You also need to make sure you remembered to get dressed, unless you’re so tired you don’t mind putting in an appearance at nursery in your PJs.

You will do approximately 10 trips to and fro to the car, putting things in and then adding extra things just in case. You really need to be getting ready to go out a good three hours before you’re due to be somewhere. Once driving, you will need to stop to adjust the sun shade, move a lolling head back into place and remove/add clothes.

Best part of all is when you return home and it’s time to replace all the items you’ve used out of your bag, because if you don’t do it straightaway, you might forget and leave the house next time without any nappies.

People who don’t have children have absolutely no excuse for being late. Ever.

THE CHILD POLICE

Please, please can people stop judging us parents.

Why does being a parent seem to give every Tom, Dick and Harry free reign not only to judge you silently, but to tell you exactly what they think too? I get that some people are genuinely interested in your life as a parent, mainly pregnant friends who are wondering what they have let themselves in for.

Then you get the people who don’t really care, but feel the need to say something, no matter how pointless. ‘Does he sleep through?’ is a common question from them. Annoying though these people can be, they’re not really judging you, just trying to be sociable.

The ones that really grind my gears are the people who ask you leading questions so they can wang on about what they do with their baby and how it’s definitely the right way. The underlying message is that you should completely change your parenting style and do it like them, because that’s the right way..

These people have also perfected the art of not listening to a word you’re saying because they are too wrapped up in their own rightness.

No matter what you feel about how another person parents, it really isn’t your business. We are all tired, struggling and vomit-specked. We all carried our babies for the best part of a year and then birthed them. We all feed, clothe and keep them safe. It doesn’t matter how: what matters is that we are doing the best we can.

I hate how such a wonderful thing can bring out the worst in people. So to the lady in the supermarket, the man at the surgery and the family on the bus, I don’t give a flying fig what you think. You may have had a million children and read all the books in the world, but you don’t have my baby. So you just don’t know.

PARENTING MAKES YOU WEIRD

A temporary spell of apparent madness is perfectly normal

Everyone goes a little weird when they have kids. You find yourself doing stuff that would be really frickin’ odd if you didn’t have a baby.

A good example is rocking. Once you give birth you instantly turn into a rocking horse. It creeps in when you least expect it. You’ll be in a queue somewhere and you will catch yourself swaying from side to side. Or you’ll be in the supermarket and start pushing the trolley backwards and forwards. Sitting on the sofa, you will find yourself jiggling even when you’ve forgotten the baby isn’t on your knee!

Making up songs is another weird parenting pastime. Babies can’t understand English, so the possibilities of lyrics are endless. My current favourites are ‘Your bum stinks so much’ and the ever-popular ‘Get to sleep little creep’. If you started singing these to anyone who isn’t a baby, you might well be sectioned.

Waking up several times a night to check your child is alive is another odd behaviour. Imagine if we all did this to our significant others. And what about the constant worry. Has he eaten enough? Has he eaten too much? He’s been asleep too long. He’s been up for hours. Is he too hot/cold/uncomfortable/happy/ sad/stimulated/wet/dry/smelly/loud/quiet/insert any other word here. If we worried like this about an adult we would go insane.

I certainly won’t be singing ‘You did a sick on my shoulder’ when he is three. Or rocking my way round the shops when he’s 21 years old. But if it calms them, keeps them safe and makes then giggle then it’s fine by me, and it should be fine by everyone else too. It’s all good.

We welcome submissions from readers who would like to contribute to Over to You. This is your space – do use it. Pictures are welcome too. It doesn’t matter what you write about, or how long or short it is – we want to hear from you! Just use the form below to submit your story or email lynette@rightstartonline.co.uk.

My parenting journey of a lifetime

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