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Jay-Z's parenting advice to Harry and Meghan and 6 other pieces of wisdom he could have passed on 

Jay Z gave advice to new parents the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at The Lion King premiere
Jay-Z gave advice to new parents the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at The Lion King premiere Credit: Niklas Halle'n-WPA Pool/Getty Images Europe

Jay-Z has famously rapped about his 99 problems. But this was 16 long years ago. Times change, people move on, and fortunately he has some solutions now too, one of which relates to surviving early parenthood. We know this since he was good enough to share it with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the weekend. “The best advice I can give you: always find some time for yourself,” he told them at The Lion King’s European premiere in London. 

It sounds obvious, but any new parent will tell you this is easier said than done. (Although, if your wife is Beyonce and together your net worth is $1.4 billion, one imagines that paying for a babysitter now and then wouldn’t pose too much of an issue.)

Jay-Z is hardly the first to offer up the wisdom of experience to those who have just had a baby. It’s tempting to all of us battle-hardened parents to share with those coming up behind us what we wish we had known from the start. But what exactly do we wish we’d known from the start? Here’s what:

1. Your body will be a foreign country for months, nay years, postpartum

Remember when you could suck in your stomach and make it appear flat, at least first thing in the morning, pre-breakfast? Not going to happen any more. Without a strict exercise regime - and who has time for strict exercise regimes? - the once familiar terrain of your body will morph into something quite different. Don’t throw out your maternity wear until your child has reached 10 years old. Comfortable underwear, likewise, will become your most reliable friend.

2. New parent pals are a must

The first thing you’ll need when you’re having a baby is new friends. Don’t rush to chuck out the old ones, they’ll still have their uses, but friendships with those going through the same thing at the same time are imperative. Sitting on a foam mat singing The Wheels on the Bus for a year becomes bearable, even enjoyable, if you’re doing it with chums who, like you, have milk stains on their t-shirts and gargantuan bags beneath their eyes. (No-one said this was going to be sexy, ok?)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex getting to grips with the demands of parenting baby Archie Credit: Samir Hussein/ WireImage

3. Your relationship will be...different

Not better, not worse, just different. You will go for whole weeks without speaking about anything but the baby. Your partner will change from being he who shares your sense of humour and cultural interests to an indispensable nappy changer and maker-of-tea when you’re marooned on the sofa mid-breastfeed. In the early days of parenting, sex will either be something you wistfully but dimly recall, or something you never want to do again. Do remember to make time for each other occasionally, and do try and talk about something other than your child, at least for five minutes if you can.

4. Accept all the help that is offered

This is no time to be proud. Don’t wave away those offers of assistance from well-meaning relatives and friends, thinking you can do it all yourself. You probably can’t, and if you try you might send yourself mad. If your neighbour suggests she drops by and watches baby while you have a shower and a cry in the bathroom, thank her and accept straight away. Your sanity is at stake here, no less.

5. Everything is just a phase

When you’re at your wits’ end because your baby’s waking up every hour on the hour, through the night, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Before long they’ll have outgrown this habit - and quite possibly moved on to something worse, but don’t worry about that too much right now. The important thing is to remember, when you feel you just cannot go on, that this too shall pass and one day they’ll leave home. Then you’ll feel sad and will long for those awful, sleepless nights. Maybe. 

6. There are multiple right answers

To sleep train or not to sleep train? Are dummies the creation of the devil or of God? Is baby-led weaning a ridiculous idea? New parenting will throw up at least 99 problems, maybe more, but take comfort in the knowledge that there is often not only one answer. You must work out what feels right for you. Apart from with baby-led weaning, which is quite obviously ridiculous.