Becoming a parent for the first time means doing a lot of things you’d previously never have imagined yourself doing. Wiping someone else’s butt is the first thing that comes to mind here (I can totally see my teenage self cringing at the very suggestion of this, and then flouncing off to her room, shouting that she’s NEVER HAVING CHILDREN, because OMG YUCK! How the mighty are fallen.), but there are plenty of others. Anything involving snot is another one that just presented itself, actually. Like, if I were to make a pie chart of a typical day right now, it would look a lot like this:

My life in the form of a piechart

So, basically:

01. Wiping butts. (Well, BUTT. Because, you get that when I say, “someone else’s butt,” I am, in fact, referring to the baby right?)

02. SNOT.

03. Endless amounts of laundry.

04. Trying (unsuccessfully) to get a photo of the baby smiling in a cute outfit during the 30 second time window between me removing his 3 bibs, and him spitting up on himself.

05. Explaining to Terry why I insist on dressing the baby every single day, and don’t just leave him in the same sleepsuit until he’s 14.

You’ll notice there are no slices of pie dedicated to “sleeping” or “work” here, because HAHALOL. There should probably be a slice dedicated to making pie charts explaining how I spend my day, though, because WOW, that took way longer than anticipated. Like, halfway through it, I was all, “Is this really worth it for the sake of a feeble joke, Amber? IS IT, THOUGH?” But anyway, I digress. Quite a bit, actually, because I was actually here to tell you, not just about all of the things I now find myself doing that I previously wouldn’t have been able to imagine, but about some of the strange habits I’ve developed since Max arrived. I’m talking here about things like…

Max at 5 months01.

Referring to myself in the 3rd person

“Mummy’s just going to put you here while she makes your bottle!” “Mummy’s going to change your nappy now!” Like, seriously, SHUT IT, “MUMMY”.

It’s not just me who does this, though: a few weeks ago, Terry told me he’d gotten out of the shower and found himself thinking, “Now, where did daddy put his shirt?” We haven’t yet reached the stage where we refer to each other as “mummy” and “daddy” yet – and we’ve quietly agreed that if and when that happens, we’ll just get divorced – but we do both appear to refer to ourselves in the third person now, and Amber does this because of another habit she’s developed, namely…

02.

Narrating my every move

Look, babies are both difficult and easy to entertain. They’re difficult because they require CONSTANT stimulation when they’re awake, but they’re also pretty easy, because they think everything is fascinating. Early on in my parenting journey, I developed the habit of just narrating everything I do for Max’s benefit: the problem being that I still do it even when he’s not there, and even when I’m not even speaking. So, a few weeks ago, I was tidying up the kitchen, and I thought to myself, “Hmm, why isn’t this drawer closing properly, Max?”  I mean, Max wasn’t even THERE at the time: I’ve just apparently started tacking his name onto the end of every thought. Haven’t I, Max?

cutie pie max03.

Rocking things that aren’t my baby

In my defence, that pile of laundry probably really appreciate my attempt to rock it to sleep. The bowl of soup, not so much…

04.

Sleeping like a baby

By which I mean, “Waking up constantly”. The thing is, even although Max is currently sleeping through the night (PLEASE LET ME NOT HAVE JUST TEMPTED FATE BY SAYING THAT), I’m not, because I have to wake up every so often to make sure he’s still breathing. And the pressure to keep him alive has infiltrated every part of my mind, to the point where, last week, in my half-awake state, I spent a good few minutes carefully “tucking in” the end of my pillow (I still sleep with one of those V-shaped pregnancy pillows, purely because it’s just so damn comfy, which means the ends of my pillow protrude out into the middle of the bed), and then un-tucking it again, because I was worried it might be too warm. Then I woke up properly, and realised that, yup, that was your PILLOW, you idiot – the baby sleeps on the OTHER side of the bed…

(I also almost woke Terry up a few nights ago by tickling his chin. It was only when I felt his beard make contact with my fingers that I realised, WHOOPS, ALSO NOT THE BABY. JUST GO TO SLEEP, WOMAN.)

05.

Doing a stupid, open-mouthed smile all the damn time

I use this expression a lot now:

FFSI hate myself, srsly.

Back when Max was just a few weeks old, though, I read something on one of the many parenting apps I’d downloaded at the time about how babies respond best to very exaggerated facial expressions, but see things (At whatever stage he was at back then…) almost as a series of “snapshots” rather than as a movie. The advice was to pull your stupid facial expression of choice, and then kind of freeze-frame it for a few seconds, to give the baby a chance to respond. I decided to go for the stupid, open-mouthed smile, and, sure enough, every time I pulled this face, Max would smile back at me. Probably because he was thinking, “LOL, lookit this idiot!”

Now, baby smiles are pretty addictive, really, so I kept on doing it – and have continued to this day, to the point where it’s become totally ingrained in me, and any time I smile at someone, I have to suppress the instinct to do it as if I’m about to eat their entire head. I’ve even started to instinctively adopt this look every time someone points a camera at me: seriously, I can’t even tell you how many times recently Terry’s been taking outfit photos for me, and he’s had to stop, lower the camera, and be all, “Seriously, dude, CLOSE YOUR MOUTH.” At first he thought it was  – and I quote – “some weird, fashion blogger thing”, but nope, it’s just me, with my sad attempt to make myself appealing to people/babies/cameras by showing them my tonsils.

Like I said, HATE MYSELF.

06.

Having a hair elastic permanently attached to my wrist

Every morning, I wash, and then carefully style my hair.

Then I take out a raggedy old hair elastic, scrape my hair back into a scrappy ponytail (And not a sexy, dishevelled ponytail, either, but a straight up, “I’ve given up on life, and also on hair,” ponytail. Because that’s the only kind I can do.), and then leave it like that for most of the day. On the odd occasion I release my hair from its unkempt ponytail, I put the hair elastic on my wrist, and that’s why my outfit photos all look like this now:

hair ties on wrist

What does this have to do with having a baby, though? Well, the hair ties are mostly there because any time I need to change a nappy, or do some other baby-related task, I always feel the need to pull my hair back first – a bit like the equivalent of rolling up your sleeves, or preparing to go into battle or something. I keep meaning to hit up Google for some prettier hair ties – like, ones that could easily pass for a bracelet, say, given that they’re never off my wrist. And, you know what? If that isn’t a Thing yet, it totally should be…

07.

Repeating everything twice.

Finally, to return to my second  point, about narrating my every move, I’ve also discovered that it’s not enough for me to babble mundane nonsense once – I now have to repeat everything twice. I said I now have to repeat everything twice. So, instead of just saying, “Mummy’s going to change your nappy now,” and leaving it at that, I’ll be all, “Mummy’s going to change to your nappy now! Yes, she’s going to change your nappy!”

(I bet you’re all dead grateful for that useful explanation of what “repeating everything twice,” means, huh? Because, otherwise you’d just be like, “Why, I wonder what Amber could possibly mean by this? I wish she’d provided an example!”)

(Oh, and in addition to repeating it twice, repeating it twice, I also have to say everything as if it’s the Most! Exciting! Thing! Ever!)

I have no idea why I do this: all I know is that it could be worse. My mum, for instance, has been unable to speak without singing since Max was born – it’s almost like she’s some kind of fairytale grandmother, and the Wicked Witch has hit her with a Singing Curse, so everything she says has to be sung, instead. (BRB, just pitching Pixar with this idea…) My personal favourite song of hers is the classic, “Max Is In His Pram, And He’s Looking At His Gran,” (The title of which is also the verse, btw. And the chorus.), but it’s up against some stiff competition from Terry’s self-penned hit, “What Are These Handies Doing?” and my own, “Bouncy Max”.

Max, meanwhile, likes all of these songs, but much prefers basically anything my dad sings: so, mostly blues, then, but, I mean, if my dad sung the phone book to him, Max would be like, “WOW! BEST! SONG! EVER!” You can tell who the singer is in our family, huh?

Er, we all sing a LOT now is what I’m saying. And I personally sing everything TWICE. At least. My mum will sing this post when she reads it, obviously, and Terry will just be all, “What’s with all the singing, daddy?” I’d say my dad was the only “normal” one left amongst us, but then I remembered his patented, “Bendy Grandad” move, in which he kind of sways from side to side repeatedly, to shrieks of laughter from Max.

So, now I’m thinking Max HIMSELF must be the only normal one left?

Isn’t that right, Max? Isn’t that right?

strange habits I've developed since becoming a parent

19 Comments
  1. This was such a cute insight! It’s been a while since I commented here for various reasons, but it is thoroughly adorable how much you’re embracing motherhood and finding the joy in it! Max is one lucky little guy xx

  2. But preparing to changethe nappie IS like going into battle, so I totally get you when you feel the need to prepare by rolling up ypur sleeves. My hair only goes down when I am at the Office, I Keep my hair ties right next to our front door. The second I enter, the second my hair goes up into a top knot. And obviously not a pinterest worthy one.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

  3. This made me laugh out loud which isn’t necessarily a good thing since I am drinking tea and most of my family is still asleep. So, spitting out tea while doing that really unattractive silent laughter thing. I love your parenting posts. They bring back all my memories of when my kids were little.

  4. Hehehe. All relatable! My mother’s hit is ” your wish is my command in grandma land.” The problem being that Bobby is now 8, she still says it, and I’m pretty sure it means “watch 8 hours of TV a day and play with the iPad unattended.” If I try to discipline him at my mom’s house he actually says “but I’m in grandmaland!”

  5. Hehe, so cute! Love all the insights of what it is like (or might be like) to have a baby. He’s too adorable, really – even though we only see the highlight reel, of course. It’s so nice to read about what’s going on and what’s changing and maybe makes this adventure seem a little less daunting 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  6. Loling at the truth of all of these. My baby is now 18 months old and I’m trying to break myself of the habit of having a tie on my wrist at all times. Interestingly, the whole narrating your day/inner thoughts thing is sometimes called “sportscasting” (because sportscasters narrate what players are doing I guess?) and is actually considered a really good habit to get into for the baby. It exposes them to so much more language and ideas.

  7. My sister in law was on a train journey, unaccompanied for once by her young baby. She was gazing out dreamily at the passing countryside when she suddenly exclaimed to her fellow passengers “Ooh look at all those lovely cows in that field!”
    Thanks for the memories of the baby days, especially rocking things that aren’t the baby. I found myself rocking the shopping in the supermarket trolley!

  8. Yes to the narration! Actually since I had kids (mine are older now) I realised this was why my father-in-law would comment on everything he saw, mostly while driving – ‘sheep on the hill, there’ ‘that’s a big yellow truck’ – at first I was baffled and post-kids realised that he’d just never stopped since his kids were small. I did stop, but have started again since we got a dog – she’s just fascinated by me going about my day!

  9. Agree with above commenter who said they started doing this when they got a dog – I was wondering why the narration felt so darn familiar and then it dawned on me – I narrate my whole life to my puppy. Who can only at most learn and understand about 200 words or something like that, so I think that probably makes me insane? Although hey I’m a pro at this before my baby’s even got here!

  10. I heard of a couple who had a toddler, and they invited the husband’s boss over for dinner. The boss was sitting in the place at the dinner table where the toddler usually sat, and as the wife was chatting to him she realised that she was automatically cutting up his food for him! The force of habit is strong!

  11. Speech-language pathologist here, and all that talking to, at, and around Max, as well as all the repetition and singing, is the best for helping along his speech and language development; so, go, you! Making faces at him is also great bc it teaches him to look to faces for additional information. That said, best to take it alllll down a notch in any adults-only situation (easier said than done).

  12. I don’t think those are strange habits, but the usual new habits that come with having a small baby! You’re doing great, and not at all strange 🙂

  13. I pointed out the moo cows in a field to my cousin, who was very puzzled at this information
    Darren read the cricket news to his newborn boys who were fascinated.

  14. Amber, I became interested in your blog because of the “Rubin the Wulf” posts. Thirteen years later, I am still reading it. No one has ever accused me of committing anything other than fashion atrocities (I loves me some sweatpants), and I’ve never wanted children, but your writing and sense of humor makes it all interesting. Thanks for the insights AND the laughs.

  15. Would LOVE to hear all those hit songs someday! I do all this with my puppy (one creative source: Batman & Vizsla both have 2 syllables so the TV show theme song adapts nicely.). Other than my neighbors hearing made-up songs, my embarrassing moment came when I explained my withdrawal request in baby-talk to a confused bank teller, with repetition, too!

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