I'm not sure what I was expecting when I was expecting my first child, but the reality of becoming a new parent for the first time was absolutely nothing like I'd imagined and certainly not like I'd expected!  Pre-children I was an HR Director, travelling the UK hiring and firing people, I was up at the crack of dawn and could be in Southampton (from Manchester) for 9am, arriving home at 10pm with not a hair out of place.  I recall sobbing on the phone to my mum one day that despite being one of the most capable people I knew (if I say so myself), suddenly I found that it could be 4pm and not only was I not dressed but I'd often not even had chance to eat or go to the loo!  How could this tiny bundle leave me feeling so incapable of doing even the most basic of things?

So here is my top 10 tips for first time parents:-

  • If getting up, dressed and out is too much of a challenge, aim smaller ... brushing your teeth for example is a really great goal!  Do that and you've achieved the first level of personal hygiene, getting dressed can wait for another day.
  • Wait for an unsuspecting neighbour to walk past your house or come home from work and ask them if they fancy holding your baby whilst you go for a quick wee.  They may take pity on you and tell you to go for a bath.  This was always my fail safe, my poor next door neighbour is still affectionately known as "Mary, Mary, Mary" which is what I'd yell out of the window each time I saw her!
  • Invest in a swing that rocks itself - honestly the very best money I ever spent, it was the only time my little bundle of joy stopped crying (unless she was being held).
  • From the very first day accept your life will never be the same again, don't for a minute kid yourself that "this baby will fit in with me" that is a fallacy - you will fit in with your new baby, not the other way round!
  • Don't listen to the guru's they live on a pink fluffy cloud and ride unicorns to work, they don't live in the real world.
  • The aim of the game is to get through the day, it doesn't matter how you do it, just do it!
  • Your house may have been a show home before you had your baby but it becomes a nursery, play room, sticky, hand prints all over the walls mess.  Move plants or furniture to hide the marks on the walls and if all else fails use softer lighting, which will hide most sins!

My kids are now 21 and 2 x 18 and my most important tip .... enjoy them whilst they don't answer back, don't want to borrow the car, don't stay out half the night, don't have teenage hormones coursing through their veins and will give you lots of love and affection!