Welcome To Motherhood, Here’s What You Need To know…
I’m going to cut right to the chase. BEING A NEW MUM IS HARDCORE. I want you to remember this so you cut yourself some slack, continually. Because it’s something you might not hear before you have a baby. People are much more likely to say nice, encouraging things like, ‘Oh, it’s so lovely,’ and ‘Are you excited?’ These are lovely sentiments but a few weeks in, you’ll probably be feeling less than excited (knackered) and wondering what you’re doing wrong because you’re not finding it as ‘lovely’ as everyone told you it was. We need to help new mums manage their expectations better. So here are some honest words from an ‘old’ mum to a new one.
1. No one knows what they’re doing.
I have three kids ranging from two to seven and I’m still a bit in the dark about this parenting lark. I thought I just had to get them to sleep through the night and then I was home and dry. WRONG. When my first daughter slept through the night I was like, ‘I’ve got this motherhood thing down!’ Then a few months later I was presented with a toddler who wouldn’t do what she was asked and kept biting other children. My point is, don’t worry about every little thing. Because there will always be something. Things change constantly. From day to day, from hour to hour. So try to go with the flow, as much as you can and you’ll feel much calmer inside.
2. Don’t worry about what other mums are doing.
When we compare ourselves to others, we aren’t comparing ourselves to an actual person. We’re comparing ourselves to the version of them we’ve built in our minds. So you don’t really know if that mum is as capable or as relaxed as she seems. And even if she is, we all do things differently and we all have ups and downs. Today might be your down but tomorrow might be hers.
3. Cuddle your baby.
I talk about this one endlessly and that might be because my third born, a boy, who’s earned the nickname Lovebug, just wants to cuddle me all of the time. I’m sure this is because he got a lot more baby cuddles than the girls; he was my last and I was too damn tired to care about routine in the same way I cared about it with the girls. Babies are small for such a short time. Make the most of it before all the eye rolling and answering back starts.
4. Eat and drink.
If you don’t eat or drink enough water, you are no good to anyone. Least of all your baby. If you’re breastfeeding this is even more important. But all new mums, regardless of how they’re feeding, need sustenance. It doesn’t matter what, just eat and drink something (water, not gin). I used to keep a bowl of dried apricots, nuts and biscuits by the sofa with a two litre bottle of water. Because when a baby starts feeding you have no idea how long you’re going to be there for.
5. Put yourself first.
Obviously you aren’t going to put yourself completely first. You have a new baby. What I mean by this is put yourself first before everyone else. New mums don’t get nurtured in the way they used to. Others put their expectations on us and we rush around trying to keep everyone happy when what we should be doing is resting, recovering from pregnancy and birth and looking after our babies. So, you call the shots and never feel guilty for doing so. You have visitors when you want visitors, not the other way around. And when they do come ask them to bring the cake and make the tea. You are doing more than enough right now. Got it?
Much love to you, you’re doing brilliantly.
There’s more support and encouragement for new mums in Amy’s new book. The New Mum’s Notebook is a sanity saving journal for new mums with articles, funny lists, recipes, tips and space for you to write down memories. 304 colour pages, priced at £20 (plus P&P) and available with international shipping from www.thenewmumsnotebook.co.uk.