Becoming a parent is the most wonderfully exhausting experience a person can go through. Add a good dollop of family traditions nobody understands and a rake of relatives you’ve never met and you are well on your way to becoming an Irish parent.
There is nothing quite like meeting your baby for the first time and realizing they will be relying on you for the next 20 years. But never fear! As an Irish parent, you already have one vital parenting skill…a sense of humour!
Here are our top 10 tips to becoming the best Irish parent you can be.
1. Buy a 7-seater car
If you have just become an Irish parent you might as well change your car now because chances are, you’re on a roll!
Irish families are traditionally large with a strong emphasis on children. Everyone in Ireland knows a woman who had an obscene amount of babies and stories of families of 12 living in one room with a toilet in the garden or the same school uniform surviving 9 siblings.
And while the average amount of children to a family has decreased over the years any Irish woman over the age of 30 will be regularly reminded of her ticking biological clock.
2. Name your child something nobody can pronounce
Irish names are renowned for getting people tongue-tied. Between silent letters, missing letters and knowing where the fada goes, many of them can lead to confusion and frustration.
Chances are your child will spend many hours spelling their Irish name and explaining what it means. It might leave them feeling embarrassed or even upset…the perfect revenge for all those sleepless nights I’d say.
But if you are not cruel enough to use this tactic you can always have some fun with linking the name with the surname. Something like Brian O’Brian or Janey Mac are easy to say but will still get a laugh.
3. Buy the largest tub of Sudocrem you can find
The term ‘Irish treasure’ might spark thoughts of a delicious pint of Guinness or a bag of Tayto to some people but once you become an Irish parent, you will realise the true gold produced by our fair land. Sudocrem! Often pronounced Sudocream or Sudo this pot of thick white magic will change your life from the moment you give birth.
Nappy rash, angry eczema or sizzling sunburn on pale Irish skin…soothed within minutes once smothered in Sudocrem. Even as teenagers your children will reach for it to deal with spots. Probably with the same tub you bought all those years ago….magic!
4. Track down all the teenage babysitters in the wider family
So you’ve had your first baby. You’re smitten! You feel your life is complete and you will never need to leave the house again. That’s lovely, but it won’t last. Give it 6-8 weeks (I caved at 2!) and you will be crawling the walls and willing to sell your soul for a decent pint.
This is where the teenagers come in. Use your youthful (pre-birth) self to befriend anyone in your family over the age of 13. Then when the thirst hits you simply make the call. It is a fact that teenagers will do anything to earn a buck, so get them to mind the baby and get down to that pub.
Top tip: always make sure the child is asleep when they arrive and don’t bring your phone. If the baby wakes up (they always do) and the teen doesn’t flea the house before you get back then they have passed the ultimate test, and you can use them again next week.
5. Gather a stash of soothers
Any expectant parent will be told soothers are bad for babies and advised not to use them. They can cause buck teeth, feeding issues and problems with weaning. Don’t listen to them. If you want to be a proper Irish parent, fill the house with soothers (aka doodies or dodies).
At least 5 in the steriliser and a couple in the cot should do it. But be warned… the sound of a doodie hitting the floor at 3 am is something that will haunt you forever.
6. Get a dog
Having a baby turns your life upside down. And having a second takes the term spinning plates to a whole other level. Most people at that point agree to focus on the situation in hand and try to get through it without having a breakdown.
If you are an Irish parent, this won’t be the case, and it is at this stage you and your partner will decide there is only one thing missing from the chaos that is now your life … a dog! Preferably a puppy that has not been house trained and howls if you leave him for more than 30 seconds.
And if you thought the dog would keep the kids busy, think again! It turns out you can’t leave them alone without the puppy sharing a bowl of cereal with the toddler or the baby hoisting himself up by Rover’s ear.
7. Get creative with potatoes
As your little darlings get older, it is important to vary their diet. If you’re an Irish parent, this simply means thinking of lots of different ways to serve them spuds.
Mash is great for toddlers and can be jazzed up with some liquidised turnip or swede. Cheesy mash can be a tasty treat and a good way to tick the dairy box.
Roast potatoes are a family favourite, and if you cook extra, you can fry them up on Monday.
As the children get older, you can impress their friends with some spicy potato wedges or even get crafty with some old potatoes and cocktail sticks on a rainy day.
8. Stock up on booze
Becoming a parent for the first time is a great cause for celebration, and you wouldn’t be a proper Irish parent if you didn’t raise a glass or two in honour of your new bundle of joy.
You might find yourself housebound for a while so having a nice bottle of wine to share once the baby is born and you’ve sorted a babysitter.
But perhaps the most important reason to fill your drinks cabinet as a new parent is so you can remind yourself of the good ol’ days.
9. Invest in a good strong wooden spoon
Newborns are lovely. Their day consists of eating, sleeping and not much else. Then they grow into toddlers. They learn to walk, talk and have opinions.
This is when the fun really starts. Discipline is vital to bringing up a child, and Irish parents are experts in giving the third degree.
Being told you are ‘making a show of yourself’ or ‘letting the side down’ is usually enough to leave a child riddled with enough guilt to rein them in but sometimes parents need to take it to the next level.
Threatening with the wooden spoon is a common punishment used by Irish parents. We wouldn’t recommend actually ever using it, but the threat usually does the trick.
10. Embrace the power of 7 Up
A true Irish parent will know the value of always having a large bottle of 7 Up in the house.
According to many Irish mothers, it can help in many ways including settling a small stomach or cool the body down after a fever.
It may also help aid recovery from vomiting and diarrhoea while drinking it flat helps with nausea.
But the magic powers of 7 Up can be used for other things with children like making them feel really grown up and buying them a can on holidays or pouring them a glass at Christmas and telling them it’s ‘White Coke’ (guilty as charged!)