If I had been smart, I would have kept track of all the thousands of hours I sent down the drain researching junk for my baby. By my estimation, I spent at least a month dedicating my efforts to figuring out the most perfect, safe, and cost-efficient infant car seat, which of course later got recalled about a month after I stopped using it. More time was probably spent researching that hunk of plastic, and apparent death trap, than my son actually spent using it.
The hours wasted isn't limited to junk that barely gets used; the first year of his life was constantly spent Googling, researching in parenting manuals, and deferring to mummy blogs for any help I could procure for things that were essentially pointless. Questions like, "how many teeth should an infant have by their first birthday?" were futile to concern myself over since, as my mum liked to remind me, they'll have all their teeth by the time they get to uni, so it really doesn't matter.
I don't think I'm alone in this predicament, either. One friend who was fixated on buying the most perfect, hypoallergenic, chemical-free mattress has a toddler who only wants to sleep on the floor; another friend spent an entire Summer meeting with doctors and researching language delay only to have her son become the biggest chatterbox, who she now kind of wishes would be quiet.
All of those hours misused studying insignificant items and concerns could have been spent doing practically anything else. I know time travel is impossible, but that doesn't mean I can't fantasise about what I should have done instead of researching the best bike trailer since I don't even have a bike.
- Learned another language, that way when my son decides to ignore my strongly worded, "put that down" and "don't touch that," I can say it in a new language and confuse him long enough to grab whatever disgusting item he's picked up out of his hands.
- Actually show up to those prenatal exercise classes that I swore I'd go to at the gym I've never set foot in because "I don't have the time." Maybe that way I would've not gained 22 kilos and had been left with a permanent mum gut that likes to peek out over my pants.
- Taken one of those long, luxurious baths like you see on TV every day. Bubbles would overrun the tub while I casually got baby food out of my hair, sipping bath wine because standing in a shower is for suckers.
- Travelled, anywhere and everywhere — and by myself. If I want to go anywhere now, it requires a mountain of diapers, toys, and a bunch of "just in case" clothes, because you never know when a toddler is going to magically find the only puddle within a 10-block radius. Instead of researching how to take a baby on a plane, something I've yet to do, I should have just hopped on a plane myself and gone anywhere.
- Read an actual book, and not just headlines of news articles and the first 10 pages of 10 times as many books. For a former English teacher, I sure don't read as much as is expected of me. Who has time to read the latest book club fiction when there's so much time being spent on finding out which nursery colour improves memory and intelligence?
- Spent some time with my husband, that didn't involve talking about which high chair to buy or how we wanted to store the insane amount of toys we were certain would overtake our house. Our last few days as carefree non-parents were gobbled up by planning for things that probably could have waited.
What I really should have done is discovered a way to not get caught up in the cyclone of information overload. While I'd like to say that at least now I know better and won't get caught up in the struggle for finding and being the best, that's a pretty boldface lie. Just before I started this article, I spent at least an hour researching toddler potty-training seats, because nothing's too good for my little time-waster, even something that is certain to become a disgusting mess.