20 things parents thought they'd never do before they had kids

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·5-min read
Never shouting at their children was one of the top preconceptions parents had before having kids. (Getty Images)
Never shouting at their children was one of the top preconceptions parents had before having kids. (Getty Images)

Using screen time as a babysitter, shouting and letting children sleep in their bed are just some of the top promises Brits vowed they'd never break before becoming parents.

An eye opening new survey has revealed the incredible difference between the mums and dads polled thought they'd be and those they actually are, with 85% claiming to laugh out loud about their pre-parenting misconceptions.

A further 81% claim it is simply impossible to know just how hard being in charge of tiny humans is until you’ve had kids yourself.

Top of the list, scooping almost half (47%) of the vote, was the intention to always limit screen time, which no doubt flew out the window the first time small children were taken to eat in a restaurant or went on a journey longer than 12 minutes.

A third (33%) of well-intentioned (read unrealistic) parents believed they would never bribe their children to be good, no matter how naughty they were being, only to find themselves giving in and dishing out the biscuits/blueberries/*insert bribe of choice* in a desperate bid to keep tantrums at bay.

Other pre-baby vows that ended up being swiftly broken include never raising their voice to their child (39%), never using a tablet as a babysitter (34%), reading to them every single night (32%) and never allowing their little ones to sleep in their bed (29%).

Read more: How to get free books, as research shows nearly one in five kids don’t have own book at home

Limiting screen time was another pre-parenting vow that went out the window. (Getty Images)
Limiting screen time was another pre-parenting vow that went out the window. (Getty Images)

A quarter (25%) of the 2,000 British parents surveyed by pre-school brand, Play-Doh, were convinced they would never give in to pester power - only to cave in repeatedly at each and every whine.

When it comes to the reasons behind the pre and post-parenting gap, more than two thirds (67%) admitted to feeling an overwhelming pressure to be a ‘perfect’ parent, which left them feeling like a failure.

Topping the list of factors contributing to the 'perfect' pressure, is social media, with 72% claiming the glossy edits of family life on their Instagram and Facebook feeds are to blame.

Further pressure pile-ons include other parents (46%), family members (40%), friends who don’t have kids (34%), internet forums with conflicting advice (27%), and the host of parenting ‘experts’ available on all platforms (22%) – with 41% of parents having received unsolicited/unrequested parenting advice from others.

Watch: Meet the single mum who has never punished or rewarded her kids

Unsurprisingly the study also found that 8% of UK parents said having kids was the biggest learning curve of their lives.

It's equally unsurprising, therefore, that a whopping 92% admit to ‘winging it’ as they navigate the parenting path.

The parenting awakening does have an upside, however, with mums and dads sharing the top tips they'd give to wannabe parents, including; "there will be hard days but it’s worth it" (68%), "don’t feel embarrassed if your child has a melt down in public as its normal" (62%), and "you’ll miss these days when your kids are older" (51%) all featuring highly.

Read more: True cost of a child: How expensive are your kids?

Parents vowed their kids would never sleep in their beds. (Getty Images)
Parents vowed their kids would never sleep in their beds. (Getty Images)

Commenting on the findings Nicola Fox-Haggarty, commercial director for Hasbro UK & Ireland, says: “Our research reveals the expectations vs. reality of parenting – and how many of the preconceptions we have about family life turn out to be completely wrong."

As part of its Parenting is Messy campaign, and in a bid to lighten the pressure, Play-Doh is calling on parents to contribute to its first ever book for parents – Notes on Messy Parenting.

“As a brand that embraces mess and imagination and dislikes instructions, Parenting is Messy is all about celebrating the less polished moments in people’s lives as parents. With pressure to be perfect so high, there’s no better time to relieve some of this and embrace the messy side of parenting, and life more generally!”

Read more: Top 20 most stressful things about parenthood

Parents swore they'd never give in to pester power. (Getty Images)
Parents swore they'd never give in to pester power. (Getty Images)

20 top pre-parenting misconceptions

  1. Screen time will be limited 47%

  2. I won’t shout at my child 39%

  3. I’ll never use a tablet as a babysitter 34%

  4. I will never bribe my children 33%

  5. I’ll read to them every night 32%

  6. My kids will never sleep in my bed 29%

  7. I will never say “because I said so” 29%

  8. My kids will never throw tantrums in public 28%

  9. Establishing a good bedtime routine will be easy 28%

  10. My kids will have good manners at all times 28%

  11. I won’t give in to pester power 25%

  12. I’ll be okay with my child making a mess with their toys 25%

  13. I’ll never let them eat crisps/snacks in the car 24%

  14. Parenting isn’t as hard as people say 23%

  15. I’ll be okay with my child making a mess painting 23%

  16. My kids will be presentable at all times 22%

  17. Getting my kids up in the morning will be easy 21%

  18. I won’t be a competitive parent 17%

  19. I will never boast about my kids on social media 15%

  20. My kids will be sporty 15%