Temper tantrums, sleepless nights, bullying and sibling rivalry: Mothers reveal the 50 most challenging aspects of parenthood
16:02 GMT, 29 August 2012
They're cute, they smell nice, and when they crack one of those tiny toothless grins you'd probably even forgive them weeing all over your brand new dress.
But parenthood isn't all child's play, and now its 50 most gruelling gripes have been listed by the people who know these challenges best: mothers.
Almost three quarters of the mums polled admitted motherhood had been much more challenging than they ever imagined
Sitting (not so) pretty at the top of the list of complaints given in a survey of 2,000 mums are sleepless nights, tantrums, managing to have patience and keeping on top of household chores, all of which most mothers stated as the least pleasant aspects of being a parent.
Getting your children to eat the right foods, potty training them, coping with sibling rivalry and juggling the commitment and expense of childcare came next, followed by allowing your child to have what they want without spoiling them, ensuring they clean their teeth properly, dealing with a sick child and leaving your baby with someone else for the first time, all of which proved intensely stressful for mothers.
Managing to maintain routine and keep up with the housework was especially difficult among new parents
Sleepless nights were top of the list of complaints from new mothers about parenthood, with most believing it to be the job's biggest downside
A child's first day at a new school and dealing with competitive parents at the school gates were also common trials, and almost three quarters of mums polled admitted motherhood had been much more challenging than they ever imagined.
Emma Kenny, child psychologist and spokesperson for bedwetting experts DryNites, who commissioned the study of 2,000 mums, said: 'There are some challenges you expect when you embark on parenthood, like the sleepless nights and tantrums.
'But I don’t think anyone can be prepared for how many issues and stressful situations you will face over the years – from the baby and toddler stage and throughout a child's school life.'
Sibling rivalry was seventh on the list of mothering gripes, and dealing with bullying came 18th
Ms Kenny said the problem is that oncetantrums subside and you are getting more sleep, you then have to face a whole new set of trials 'such as your child's first day at school, which many mums are having to get ready for over the next couple of weeks'.
She continued: 'And once they are settled into school life, mums have to contend with the worries of bullies, moving up to new classes and schools, as well as a whole range of tests and exams.
'Even teenagers and young adults seem to come with their own set of challenges for poor mums.'
Tantrums and potty training were the second and sixth biggest challenges faced by parents
Researchers also found that 48 per cent of mothers found their child's school years stressful, with 14 per cent even believing that they found them more of a challenge than their son or daughter did.
Making sure your children do their homework, avoiding bullies and just getting them to enjoy school in general were named as the biggest school-time challenges.
But 18 per cent of mums found they had the most trials during their child's pre-school years, around the age of three or four years old.
More than three quarters of mums admitted they worry that things are only going to become more challenging as their children get older.
And almost half of the mums polled claimed that they find things more challenging than their partner.
Getting your children to eat the right kinds of food was a real concern among mothers
Stephanie Madrell, DryNites brand manager, said: 'There is no surprise that a child's first day at school rated highly among the challenges parents face.
'A child's first day at school can understandably be a particularly stressful and poignant time for both mothers and their children.
'The upheaval of starting school and dealing with all the new things; new teachers, new friends and the sudden change in sleep patterns, can often couple with your child hitting a bedwetting speed bump.
'If your child starts to experience bedwetting it is important to reassure them and offer support and encouragement as they acclimatise to their new routine in the classroom.'
TOP 50 CHALLENGES FACED BY PARENTS (AS TOLD BY MOTHERS)
1. Sleepless nights/sleep deprivation
3. Having patience
4. Keeping on top of the household chores
5. Getting children to eat the right foods
6. Potty training
7. Sibling rivalry
8. Juggling childcare
9. Give your child what they want without spoiling them
10. Getting children to clean their teeth properly
11. Dealing with an ill child
12. Leaving your baby for the first time
13. Getting a baby to sleep through the night
14. Getting a baby/child to sleep at night
15. Not constantly worrying and wrapping your child in cotton wool
16. Getting children to do their homework
17. Encouraging your children to concentrate and work hard at school
18. Tackling bullying
19. Going back to work after having a baby
20. Keeping an eye on your child 24/7
21. Encouraging your children to be friends with the right crowd
22. Getting into a routine with a new baby
23. Trying to stop children spending too much time in front of a computer/TV
25. Getting a toddler to stay in bed
26. Getting time off work when your children are ill
27. Your child’s first day at nursery/pre-school
28. Your child’s first ever day at school
29. Teaching them the value of money
30. Dealing with other people’s opinions on your parenting skills
31. Having to answer constant questions, even when you don’t really know the answer
32. Keeping a lid on bad language
33. Getting to school on time
34. Other competitive mums
35. Helping children to take the right path through their education
36. Keeping your children in clothes that fit when they outgrow things so quickly
37. Teaching them that fighting and hitting is wrong
38. Finding time to do your child’s reading homework every night
39. Keeping an eye on what your children are looking at online/watching on TV etc
40. Children sitting exams
41. Trying to convince doctors to listen and take you seriously
42. Your child’s first day at secondary school
43. Leaving your children with a babysitter for the first time
44. Remembering to fill in all school paperwork
45. Preventing children from smoking
46. Explaining birth, life and death
47. The Birds and the bees chat
48. Coping when you’re child’s first pet has died and knowing what to say
49. Knowing how to react when they use their first swear word
50. Clingy children