No amount of advice from relatives or episodes of "16 and Pregnant" can prepare anyone for becoming a parent.
I'm now six months in to the toughest job of my life, after my son Spencer was born in November 2017.
I've worked in breakfast radio for the best part of 10 years and thought the early starts and sleep deprivation from this demanding job would be more than adequate to prepare me for having a newborn in the house....but I was wrong. And now I know I'm not alone.
A survey of 1200 new parents by Fisher-Price has made me realise while so much has changed in terms of parenting advice and help available to us, so much has remained the same across the generations.
New mums and dads in 2018 are yearning for more social interaction, head space and parenting advice compared with previous generations. No surprises there. But the research also found we already have so much more information and support when compared to our parents.
The digital age means advice on parenting is always in our pockets, but our overall preference is for face-to-face (78 per cent) and telephone (62 per cent) communications for help. If you've ever called the Nurse On Call in the middle of the night to be reassured by a friendly voice, instead of going to Dr Google, you'll know exactly what I mean.
Another big shift I expected before Spencer was born, and have come to accept, is the new time pressures each day. The survey says I am not alone. New parents increasingly find themselves wanting more time to exercise (42 per cent vs. 21 per cent for baby boomers), to spend more time with their partner (46 per cent vs.26 per cent), sleep (70 per cent vs. 60 per cent) and socialise with friends (25 per cent vs. 11 per cent).
Today’s parents believe their first offspring is a lot more disruptive to their lives than baby boomers did. Modern mothers say they're less able to enjoy leisure and social activities, and new fathers attribute this complaint to a loss of rest and relaxation. I do my best to balance this by giving my wife alone time while I take the baby away, and she still allows me time to visit the pub.
Next up, the "S" word! Nope, not talking about dirty nappies (otherwise known as "code browns" in my home). I'm talking about sleep. Researchers found that despite all the extra support available for Gen Y parents, sleep deprivation is just as prevalent as it was for our grandparents.
On average, mothers manage 4.8-5.5 hours of shut eye per night – an unattractive 2-4 hours less than the recommended sleep range. Comparatively, fathers receive between 5.4-5.9 hours per night.
Finally, the biggest worry Fisher-Price found is the one thing often too hard to discuss. Cash! The impact on family finances has presented the greatest level of concern for first-time parents across all generations. While the Federal Government gives us pretty generous parental leave support, it's not the same as a full time income to support a family.
With financial pressures in mind, only 58 per cent of new mothers from Gen Y take a full year off work. While taking more time off than previous generations, almost one quarter of new mums admitted to doing some paid work during maternity leave.
So if any of these figures were relatable to you as a new parent, it means you're not alone. I have not received any freebies from Fisher-Price to use their research, just the knowledge that my experience as a new dad, with the daily exhaustion, financial pressures and "code browns", is just the way it's meant to be.