Parenting is easy. Until you’re a parent.

Chances are, if you’ve prepped hard for this new life as a parent, you know too much, will over react, over prepare, and try too hard. You can read all the books, talk to all your friends, inform yourself to the point of expertise, but the only thing that truly prepares you for parenting is hindsight.

So, rookie parent friends, I’ll share with you what I know now and wished I knew then. Those who have kids who are older will read this and smile and nod in agreement. Those with infants, or about to become parents probably won’t believe me because they think they know everything. I was a rookie once too, now I know better.

Here are 7 things nobody tells you about parenting, that you really need to know.

1. Save For Education The Day You Find Out You’re Pregnant

We opened a savings plan 6 months before our son was born. Just a few dollars a month at first, but it’s now worth thousands of dollars. We don’t intend on ‘handing over’ the money to our kids for school, they will have to pay their own way, but we’d rather they have a student loan from their parents than the government.

Want an easy way to build up money in the account quickly? Ask for money for the fund instead of birthday/christmas presents. Just like retirement, the earlier you start it, the longer the runway to earn compound interest and have it grow.

2. Those 3D Baby Scans Are Pointless

The 3d scans of your in utero baby are pointless. Your kid won’t look like that when it comes out. It won’t look like that when its 8 mos old or 8 yrs old. Some things are worth waiting for. Meeting your kid for the first time and seeing what they look like is one.

Baby Wadge

3. Don’t Pay Retail

(Almost) never. You can find everything you need on Craigslist, Kijiji, in Facebook swap groups or swap meets. Anything you think you need new, ask friends, grandparents, family for because they want to spoil the kid. Use their money, not yours. Then take good care of it and sell it when you’re done with it. (example: we bought our Baby Bjorn for $115 and sold it for $90.)

4. Infant Swimming Lessons Are A Waste Of Money

Until kids are 3 yrs old, swimming lessons are little more than Parent/Tot nursery rhymes and splashing. You can do that on your own. Take your kids to public swimming at your pool, pay your couple of bucks to get in and splash and sing. Swimming is an important life skill, just don’t pay for lessons until they can actually listen and follow instruction.

Swimming With Zacharie

5. Stop Worrying. They’ll Figure It Out.

The path will reveal itself to you. You don’t need to try and manufacture it, just love your kids, give them as much opportunity as you can, and then follow their lead. Because they will lead. It took my son dancing on the soccer pitch every weekend to finally realize he wanted to be in dance class, not soccer. I spent so much time stressing over which activities to put him in, when all I really needed to do was follow his lead.

6. You Don’t Need To Buy So Much

Babies don’t need a lot of things. So many people go over the top buying diaper genies, wipes warmers, shoes, and all sorts of gadgetry.

Yes, baby shoes are cute, but your 6 month old doesn’t need them. They can’t walk. Diaper genies are an expensive way to be lazy. Walk the extra steps to the toilet, roll out the mess, and then toss the diaper. Why leave that in your kid’s room? And heated diaper wipes? I don’t know about you, but my toilet paper isn’t heated. Room temperature is just fine, people. Baby food is a big money waste too. It is so easy to make your own and it takes no time or skill. Stop and think before you impulse buy, and then save your money (for their education!)

Day 248: No Idea What's Coming

7. Seek Out Advice, Trust Your Gut

Parenting is a very confusing time. There is advice coming at you from all angles (says the guy writing a list of parenting advice). Don’t listen to any of it. From breastfeeding to circumcision to cosleeping and beyond, there are opinions that will pull you in every direction and confuse the heck out of you. So do some research, get some information, make a smart decision, and then go with your gut. You love your child, you will do what’s best for them. Your gut will always be your best guide.

I mean, if Britney Spears can do this, you can too .. right!?

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