Parenthood Preparation Preparation for parenthood is not just a matter of reading books and decorating the nursery. Here are some simple tests for expectant parents to take to prepare themselves for the real-life adventure that is being a mother or father. 1. Women: to prepare for maternity, put on a dressing gown and stick a beanbag down the front. Leave it there for 9 months. After 9 months, take out 10% of the beans. Men: to prepare for paternity, go to the local chemist, tip the contents of your wallet on the counter, and tell the pharmacist to help himself. Then go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office. Go home. Pick up the paper and read it for the last time. 2. Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels, and how they have allowed their children to run riot. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and overall behaviour. Enjoy it - it'll be the last time in your life that you will have any of the answers. 3. To discover how the nights feel, walk around the living room from 5 PM to 10 PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 lbs. At 10 PM put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1 AM. Put the alarm on for 3 AM. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2 AM and make a drink. Go to bed at 2:45 AM. Get up again at 3 AM when the alarm goes off. Sing songs in the dark until 4 AM. Put the alarm on for 5 AM. Get up. Make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful. 4. Can you stand the mess children make? To find out, smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a fish finger behind the stereo and leave it there all summer. Stick your fingers in the flowerbeds then rub them on the clean walls. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look? 5. Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems: first buy an octopus and a string bag. Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this -- all morning. 6. Take an egg carton. Using a pair of scissors and a can of paint, turn it into an alligator. Now take a toilet tube. Using only Scotch tape and a piece of foil, turn it into a Christmas tree. Last, take a milk container, a ping pong ball, and an empty packet of Cocoa Puffs and make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower. Congratulations, you have just qualified for a place on the playgroup committee.