What they don't tell you at NCT!

We were shown how to put nappies on dolls. We discussed boobs and bottles. We even got on all fours to simulate giving birth. But now, as a real-life family of three and while tending to Joey’s every need, my husband and I constantly find ourselves saying: ‘Well they didn’t tell us that at NCT.’

I get it - they can’t tell you everything and there is no manual for babies. If there was I’d have read it from cover to cover by now, reciting every chapter to Greg last thing at night in bed; my venue of choice for off-loading stress (much to his displeasure).

Over the past year I’ve realised the only way you really find out how to be a parent, is to be a parent. To be fully immersed, waist-deep in it. And I’m not talking about baby poo. Yet.

Here is a list of things I definitely don’t remember learning on the NCT course that you might want to...

a) read.

b) laugh at because you’ve been-there-done-that-and-definitely-won’t-do-it-again.

c) blissfully ignore and believe it won't actually happen.

How to change a dirty nappy when your baby is a ninja.

NCT might show you how to put a nappy on a baby, when they are a tiny vole-like creature that lies on its back wriggling its legs. But how the hell do you change a dirty nappy when your child is a cross between Jackie Chan and Houdini? Not without poo going everywhere - splattering onto your freshly washed white t-shirt, the walls and the carpet, and on occasion, even getting under your nails.

How to brush your baby’s teeth.

Impossible. For us anyway. When Joey was smaller I managed to quickly swipe a brush over his two teeth before he realised what was happening. Now he clamps his mouth shut so tightly, it would be easier to open a hundred clams wearing oven mitts than try and get a toothbrush in there. I have nightmares of him turning up at school with a set of manky teeth, having made an appearance in the Guinness Book of Records for the youngest child to ever have a full set of fillings. How do other parents do it? Cutting his nails is another tribulation. It’s a two-man job to trim those Gruffalo-like claws and even then it’s a fight.

That you’ll never get a full night’s sleep again.

All parents are warned about sleep deprivation. But I was sure that by the time my child hit their first birthday they would be sleeping solidly, right? My mate Google taught me all about sleep regressions after I desperately searched online in the middle of a sleepless night months ago. We’re now in the midst of the 18-month sleep regression, which is by far the worst yet. My mind is set on repeat: It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase…

I love it when he sleeps.

That you don’t get guns of steel.

I thought carrying a baby around would mean I’d never need to exercise again. Surely I’d burn extra calories chasing a toddler around and soon resemble someone who drinks protein shakes every day and slicks oil onto their abs? Nope. It seems lugging the equivalent of a huge sack of potatoes around every day hasn’t given me the biceps I dreamed off. BUT, it has made me a professional in bread-buttering and washing up one-handed.

Where are my guns of steel?

That you’ll feel like you’re in the Truman Show.

You know the feeling when you’re being watched? That. All the time. If home alone with your baby / toddler / ninja, you’re not really alone. In the early months, I recall taking a shower with Joey lying on the floor next to me in his Sleepyhead, eyeballing me as I washed. It's worse with a toddler. I’ve tried running to the bathroom to try and pee in record time before Joey can take his eyes of CBeebies, but it's a fail every time and he comes bounding in after me. If I'm lucky he'll take a seat and wait for me to provide some form of entertainment - singing, dancing or pulling faces. If I'm unlucky, he'll clamber all over me. There's nothing like having a heel on your bladder and a knee in your gut.

Always watching.

That no parent is perfect.

None of us really know what we’re doing, we’re just pretending we do. And sometimes we’re too tired to pretend. But who cares, learn-as-you-go is what it’s all about. So let’s take what we can from NCT and wing the rest. That's what I do, and I'm pretty sure I'm totally getting away with it.

Pretending to parent.

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