The things I have learned - and wholly failed to implement - in 8 years:
1. Never buy those brightly coloured maize pellets they sell in worthy Germanic toyshops, you know, the ones with those stupid Haba games that are almost as rubbish as Woodcraft Folk non-competitive games. As they disintegrate attractively, the colour runs all over you, your children, your pet, and your carpets. Maize pellets make you hate everyone and drive you to commit acts of frothing, elaborate violence.
2. See also glitter, the dandruff of Beelzebub. Playdoh is also the work of the forces of darkness. In fact, screw anything creative that requires your input. Nothing brings home to you quite how unpleasantly arsey and uptight you actually are - well, I am - than craft projects "NO not like that darling just give it here for a moment", then five hours later, there you are making a precise replica of the Lindisfarne Gospel using Fimo and raffia. Evidence here.
3. Buy more kitchen roll. Then buy even more. See also: tissues. Gloves. Socks. Pencils. Red and black felt tips. Wine. Especially buy lots of that.
4. Do not give in to their incessant demands and get a pet. "Please mama", they will say, all big pleading eyes and fluting, longing voices. "We really will look after it and walk it and brush its hairs and feed it bones". You will feel yourself start to weaken. Animals are good for children, you will tell yourself. They teach them vital life lessons about responsibility, and nurturing. Ha. Do they hell. If you feel you yourself need lessons in nurturing and responsibility (hmm, in my case the answer may be yes), go right ahead, but otherwise, do NOT give in. Also, please remember, even RABBITS live for more years than you could possibly imagine, probably far after your children, who have looked, desultorily, at the rabbit four times in the last ten years, have gone off to rack up 6 figure debts at university learning Gaming Science or something. Do you think they are going to come back to squeeze the pus out of the rabbit's abscess? To massage the iguana's arthritic hip? Worm the senile dog? Well, do you?
No. Get a Roomba and tell them it is their special robo-pet. Damn! I really wish I had thought of that a few years ago, it would have worked like a charm.
5. Do not promise you can make a cake in the shape of "Gyrados fighting with Regigigas on the top of an erupting volcano" if you can't, however seductive it is to see their tiny faces lighting up. Manage expectations:
"Your cake can be square, or round". See? Choice, but MANAGEABLE choice.
6. Whatever Oliver James says, do not listen. He is just cross that someone stole his lips.
7. A high tolerance for whining can move mountains. The higher your tolerance, the more likely your children will give up and go and find some way of amusing themselves. This is the nirvana of parenting, the higher state of existence to which we all aspire. Deafness probably also helps. Earplugs, at a pinch.
8. Have an odd number. An odd number of children avoids the Two Child Stalemate Law (The Two Child Stalemate Law: whatever a parent suggests, one child will agree and the other will not, unless the thing is tidying bedrooms or walking the unwisely acquired real pet). If there is no deciding vote, you are always thrown into the rôle of weary, screeching Solomon. It you had wanted to be a judge, you would be a judge and get paid for it and get to wear excellent robes and a wig and not know who The Beatles and Gazza are. You are not a judge. Have an odd number of children and give them an early lesson in simple majority voting.
(People with odd numbers of children: I suspect I am being naive here. How does it all go wrong?)
9. In every large shop, in every town, in every country there is an elderly lady waiting to disapprove of your parenting. Greet her with a cheery smile, and a wave of your crack pipe.
10. Children have the aesthetic sensibilities of weasels on acid. Let them choose their own clothes, by all means, but not your living room rug.
I think that's all I have. One or more pieces of childrearing advice from each commenter, please, to mark this happy day.
(*"I know you're going to say 'fucking hell' mum, but..")