This week we were visited by our some of our closest friends who had a baby 11 months ago and until today we hadn’t met him as they live abroad. George was so cute and was waddling around the garden exploring things, he’d just learnt to walk too so wanted to follow the older children around and play with them which was lovely to see but, he’s at that age where he’s bumping his head, toppling over and can’t do what the others can and that can be frustrating for him.

We absolutely loved spending time with them and Kelly and Mark are such fabulous parents, they’re patient, kind and caring and great role models for their children too but, as Richard and I watch our children play and compare the age gap between baby George and our two we could see how much ours have grown.  Upon reflection we could see how far we’ve actually come as parents and how independent our boys were too in comparison. Tom (6)and James (5) were just playing around, going from activity to activity with Sienna, who’s nearly 3 and as we sat and chatted and shared stories of parenthood and the realities of having young children.

Our friends were still at the stage of sleepless nights and were having early wake up calls due to the time difference too, sometimes as early as 3.30am and even though they we still smiling and laughing about it we understood how tired they really were. As parents we rarely moan or complain about how difficult parenthood can be and when we look back at our memories of raising babies we remember most of the good times and not so many of the bad or the hard times – like the sleepless nights.

Raising children and bringing up babies is one of the most amazing things a couple can do together and the memories are to be treasured and cherished but, my goodness there are days when it’s tough being a parent – really tough! Having two boys myself only 12 months (and 8 days apart) was really tough, it was hectic and it felt like we juggled tasks and duties all day long and then when I went back to work it only heightened the responsibilities of being a parent but, despite it all we smiled through it, well most of it anyway.

Looking back, I remember the night feeds and the low moods due to the lack of sleep, I remember pacing the floor in the middle of the night whilst trying to desperately rock the boys to sleep, I remember making bottles at mid night and counting the scoops of formula and I often used to forget how many I’d scooped in already so had to start again.  I remember going to baby classes where I learnt how to cook and make baby food, I went out and bought a whole range of vegetables for made it for the boys, I remember feeling so proud and then when they tasted it they hated it!

But, the worst thing of all through all the sleep deprivation and sleepless nights I feared that I’d never be a fully functioning human again. There were times when I felt so tired that I just couldn’t keep my eyes open and each night I  fell asleep within seconds of my head hitting the pillow.

I remember taking the boys out too, to play group or baby weighing and I remember the fiasco of taking the car seats in and then out again every single time, it was a nightmare and so tiring. I remember fighting with the heavy pushchair when trying to get it into the car boot and then in between it all there were the nappy changes, the sickly baby stage, the crying and screaming (at times) of a newborn baby and so much more but, it’s funny because even though at the time it was all extremely hard I still look back at it all with such fond memories, even the labor stage – I loved it all.

You see, as a parent we do know, deep down that it’s all just a phase and in time it will pass like most things and even though it takes every bit of energy and strength to get through the day because you’re so sleep deprived you do it because you have to and there isn’t any other choice. Being a parent is the most amazing thing I think anyone can do and for those who haven’t yet experienced it I really hope you do because it’s magical.

It’s an absolute miracle in the first place the whole conception and pregnancy stage and then getting to watch your children grow, develop and new things right before your very eyes is the best thing of all.  Richard and I watch our two playing together now, having fun with one another and just growing every single day into beautiful, kind and caring, boisterous boys and it’s amazing to see, we feel so lucky and count our blessings every single day.

So for those new parents out there who are in the midst of the sleepless nights, you’re not alone, it is tough and challenging at times but, you do get through it and you come out of it the other side and you almost certainly do become a fully functioning grown up again.   The most important bit of advice I’d like to give you is to just remember to treasure every stage as they grow so quickly and to enjoy each moment and make every day count because it goes so fast!