What's your biggest regret as a parent?
A new survey reveals mums and dads would change many things if they could.
Regrets? Mums and dads have got a few. Two-thirds of parents admit they'd do things differently if they could turn back the clock, according to a new survey.
Working too much, not playing with their children more often and not taking enough photos are just some of the regrets gnawing at parents when their youngsters grow up.
A guilt-ridden three-quarters of parents here have a least one regret about their child's early years.
But the average mum and dad have five – with 8pc even regretting the name they gave their baby.
"Parents are more informed now, with a wealth of parenting books spelling out what to do and what not to do," says Owen Connolly, Consultant Psychologist at Connolly Counselling Centre in Stillorgan.
"Rather than help parents, in my opinion, it has only made things worse.
"Common regrets shared by parents include being too concerned about what the neighbours think, not being strict enough (and having it backfire later on) and making promises they couldn't keep.
"But I think the biggest regret among parents is being so wrapped up in everything being perfect that they missed out on their children growing up.
"Kids grow up so fast – but the housework will always be there."
'I wanted our boy to be a child prodigy'
Ray Foley, 98FM presenter – one son, Matthew (1):
"My son, Matthew, turned one just last week. Before he was born, I remember seeing a very young Chinese boy playing piano on YouTube and so, I had notions of my son becoming a musical prodigy.
"I bought him a battery-operated baby keyboard when he was a few months old so he could start early.
"That lasted all of 20 minutes before the batteries disappeared.
"At 12 months, he's probably too old now to take on that child, which I regret, but my home life is much more tranquil, which I do not regret."
'How did they grow up so fast? Did I dream it?'
Mary Mitchell O'Connor, TD – two sons, Conor (27) and Steven (26):
"What I most regret is my boys growing up so fast. If I could rewind the clock, I would never rush or complain about teething, all-night crying, earaches and tantrums. I would savour every minute and try to record their childhood in my mind's eye.
"I loved looking in at the cot while they were asleep, so innocent and full of promise. I loved going to their football games – even if it was lashing rain and I had to run their jerseys through the washing machine three times afterwards!
"I loved birthdays, days at the seaside, playing with them on the floor, doing homework and taking them to visit their grandparents.
"Most of all, I loved kissing them good night before going to bed. When I look back over the years, I wonder how did they grow up so fast? Did I dream it all?"
'Freelancing made it difficult to have routine'
Aoife Ní Thuairisg, TG4 presenter – one son, Ruán (5):
"One of our biggest parenting mistakes was not getting our son into a regular eating and sleeping pattern. Working on a freelance basis, I was pretty happy just taking every day as it came.
"Our son was nearly nine months before I even attempted to get him into a routine, and only then because I was going back to work so I had no choice. Luckily, he adjusted very well and we all got a better night's sleep.
Turns out children – and parents – are a lot happier knowing what's going to happen and when!
"Bun number two is baking away in the oven and as soon as it arrives we are determined to try to establish some sort of organised chaos!"
'I should have taken a year of maternity leave'
Alison Curtis, Phantom 105.2 presenter – one daughter, Joan (2):
"My daughter Joan was born by emergency C-section. It was the most terrifying day of my life – what started out as a routine hospital appointment turned into the dramatic delivery of this 5lb 3oz special little person.
"As a new mum, I'm sure I'll make lots of decisions that I'll regret down the line. For now though, my one big regret is that I didn't take a full year of maternity leave. I went back to work when Joan was 10 months old and ended up missing her first steps and first words. I know it's a cliché , but that really hurt.
"My maternity leave was such a wonderful experience – myself and my daughter learning to love and care for each other. If I could have extended that time, in hindsight, I would."
'I missed my son's first step'
Marisa Mackle, author – one son, Gary (4):
"Before having my son Gary, I thought working from home would be fantastic because I could be a stay-at-home mum at the same time. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that, and now I have an au pair and Gary goes to crèche too.
"My worst memory is the au pair knocking on my office door to tell me he had taken his first step – that was a real low point. I feel terrible about it sometimes, but I need to work, or how would we survive?
"My other regret is that I didn't make more of an effort to train him to sleep in his own bed. He's four now and refuses to sleep in his own room. I'm worried that he'll still be sleeping in my bed when he's 12!"