Skip to main content

Baby books, too much red wine and The National

I was interviewed a couple of weeks ago by a very nice journalist called Patricia for the UAE newspaper The National. I'd almost forgotten about it until it came out today. I do recall, however, that she called me quite late one night when I'd already got stuck into a rather pleasant glass or two of French red, so I was somewhat garrulous. Thankfully the kind woman edited my words vigorously... probably a very good thing as I remember being quite forceful with some of my opinions and occasionally using unprintable language. Naughty. 

Anyway, I digress. 

The article is about a new book, The Parent Manifesto by psychologist Jodie Benveniste ( I have absolutely no idea if it's any good or not since I haven't read it (these days I avoid baby books like the plague) so don't blame me if you rush out to buy it and it turns out to be absolutely pants, but from what Patricia told me about it sounded a million times better than the usual parent-flavoured 'how-to' drivel on offer.

In my humble opinion, the majority of parenting books are an absolute crock and written with the sole intention of making you feel utterly incapable of being a half-decent parent. Obviously this is a clever move designed to drive you to buy more parenting self-help books.

I devoured all kinds of books when I was pregnant with my first child, many years ago now. I hung on every preachy self-righteous word, feeling a failure when I gave in to my almost constant cravings for ice-cream (Mint Cornetto if you must know, in large numbers) instead of the rigorously healthy diet I was supposed to be on, full of wholemeal this and apple-juice sweetened that. The only baby book I've been tempted to recommend since is Gina Ford, and only then for new and utterly desperate mothers in danger of keeling over from serious sleep deprivation; Gina is the last resort, frankly, and even though it's hard to follow if you're as naturally lazy and unstructured as I am, it does actually work.

Here's my own three-point new-parent manifesto:
  • Don't try to be superwoman. Ask for help and be honest about how oddly emotional and barking mad you feel. It's normal to want to weep and stay in your pajamas until the baby is at least six weeks old. Just go with it. It doesn't last for ever. 
  • Throw money at the problem. Spend as much as you can afford on getting decent help at home - cleaner, nanny, whatever - in a bid to keep your sanity. After childbirth your body and brain goes into total hormonal shock. You need as much sleep and nourishment as possible to recover, which does not mean trying to cook gourmet meals whilst scrubbing the floors and ironing hubby's shirts (trust me, I tried to be incredibly impressive and failed miserably at it). 
  • You will probably be fat for six months or so after giving birth (unless you are one of those rare freaky types who lose all their weight in a nano-second and then act insufferably smug about it for ever), so get used to elastic waists for a while. Coming over all amorous will probably be the last thing on your mind for a month or two anyway, so who cares? You can hit the gym and resist the biscuits when you feel vaguely human again. 
Yeah, that's it. Everything else you'll figure out for yourself or your mum/ best friend will tell you. Just try to do what comes naturally, love and cuddle your baby as much as you can (not a tough call since almost all babies are unbearably cute), enjoy every chaotic, messy moment of it and it will probably turn out just fine. 

Now, pre-teens... that's a much trickier subject...


Kate - I'm the author of the Parent Manifesto. Love your manifesto points! And totally agree that you don't have to be super, and everything does pass. Hope you're still enjoying mint cornettos! Cheers, Jodie.
Kate S. said…
Hi Jodie, thank you, will seek out your book when it hits the shelves. Oddly enough, have gone off Cornettos of all flavors...Too much of a good thing, I guess. :-)

Popular posts from this blog

Apologies for being incommunicado this week and hope none of you out there are too distraught not to be receiving the usual almost-daily MotV missives. The reason for the silence is that I'm up to my neck, metaphorically-speaking, in research papers for my first grad course assessment. This experience has made me realise how rigorously un-academic I am in my thinking. It has also illuminated how reliant I am on red wine in order to get through endless evenings typing furiously on my laptop, not to mention the fueling of increasingly colorful curses that I feel obliged to aim at the University's online library system which consistently refuses to spit out any of the journals I'm desperate for (I refuse to believe this is 100% due to my technical incompetence...)Oh well, if this is the price one has to pay in order to realize a long-cherished dream then it's not all that bad... No one ever said a mid-life career change would be easy. Wish me luck!

Recommended & the Mahiki dance-off

My GFs and I went to Mahiki last night, great fun as usual but made me feel a bit old; it seems that Thursday night is the playground of the just-past-pubescent. Oh well. Good tunes though, so whatever.In between taking over the dancefloor - the youngsters may have youth on their side but frankly that shrinks to insignificance in the face of two decades of clubbing experience - one of my GFs and I got into a conversation about why so many people are full of bull.It appears that many people we come across are content to live their lives in a superficial way, skimming the surface of what life has to offer and equating the ownership of stuff (cars, houses, boats, jewelry, designer clothes) with happiness. They converse in terms of status, strut their possessions as a measure of their own self-worth, take themselves far too seriously, are quick to judge others, easily annoyed, complain a lot about very little and their worries seem to far outweigh their joys. Personally, I think all that…


Following on from the realisation that my lungs are filthy and if I don't give up the smokes soon I face a life of wheezing at best, off I trotted to see the charming Dr T.

Dr T, who's charming by virtue of the fact that he's less jaded than the other doctors in the surgery (in other words, he treats patients as if they're human beings with a right to NHS services rather than annoying fraudsters trying to gain sympathy for imaginary illnesses) promptly put me on potentially habit-forming drugs to get me off the evil weed. Something doesn't feel quite right about this but since I'm so pathetically grateful to have a doctor who's willing to give me more than two seconds of his precious time, I have acquiesced to his demands.

Anyway, this wonder drug is called Champix and promises to have me merrily chucking my smokes in the bin in no time. Or it will if I can get past the possible side effects, the highlights being abnormal dreams, nausea, flatulence, snoring, …