This is what I have learned during my first year as a Mum:
- Nothing ever goes according to plan. No matter how much time you take making a schedule, preparing the night before, delegating tasks, and making sure you have everything you will need for whatever it is you are trying to do, the chances are you are still going to forget something, lose something, run into traffic, car troubles, a lost soother or favourite teether, run out of milk (or worse, diapers), and that is okay! In the beginning these things might seem like huge obstacles but after a while you accept the fact that these things happen and that life will go on, and you can begin to focus your attention on the important things, like hearing your baby’s first giggle or seeing them grab their toy for the first time.
- It’s not selfish to want time away from your baby/husband/responsibilities. Being a new Mum is exhausting! And it can be very difficult to adjust to being at someone’s beck and call twenty-four/seven. While some mums enjoy spending every waking moment staring at their beautiful babies, changing diapers, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping, this isn’t true for every Mum. It is one hundred percent okay to take some time to yourself to relax, unwind, and enjoy the things that you did before motherhood. You are not a bad mother for wanting time to yourself; all mums need a break sometimes.
- It takes a LOT of work to get your body back, but don’t give up! We all see posts from super fit mums who look like they were never pregnant, who make you believe that a 15-minute at-home workout is going to make you look like a Victoria’s Secret model just months after giving birth. I am probably one of those mums. But this is only because I have worked hard to get my body back. And it hasn’t been easy! I couldn’t even start exercising until Kendrick was 5 months old because of how traumatic his birth was and how long it took me to heal. And then finding the time or energy to workout or go to the gym was the next challenge. If you really want it and you put in the effort then you will achieve your goals. Keep trying and don’t stop until you are proud.
- It’s not fair to compare your baby to other babies. No two babies are alike, well maybe twins. But every baby develops at a different pace and what some pick up at 6 months, others don’t learn until one year. This doesn’t make your baby less smart or make another baby better than yours. Although it is super exciting when your child hits milestones ahead of the pack, be careful not to brag or boast. Growing up is not a competition, and neither is being a mum. We are all in this together.
- You don’t need to be afraid to ask another Mum for help. I guess you could call it Mum code. The reason why they say, “it takes a village to raise a child” is because it truly does. No Mum can do it all on her own and every other Mum knows this. It is amazing how many support groups and resources there are EVERYWHERE these days. From Facebook Mom Groups to the YMCA to the library to Instagram; wherever you go you are guaranteed to find other mums that are doing the exact same thing you are and would be more than willing to join your support network. Mums really aren’t as scary as they seem.
- Your kids feed off of your energy as well as learn from watching you. Not only should you try and be mindful of your words and actions around your children, you need to be conscious of your attitude. Children are like sponges, or like mirrors, or whatever! They see you, hear you, sense you, and they mimic everything. This is how they learn how to interact in the world. If your child sees you stressed all the time, they too will feel stressed. When you feel like you are at your wit’s end, try and stay calm. If you can’t it is okay to put your baby/child in a safe place and take a breather. Go into the garage and yell and scream, go to the bedroom and punch the crap out of your pillows, jump on your treadmill and run it out for 5 minutes. Do whatever you have to in order to stay composed in front of your kids to help them stay happy and stress-free.
- The memory is worth more than the picture. You will never be able to capture every important milestone or event on camera, so just be present and watch or you will miss more than you know. Do you even know how many pictures the average millennial takes each day? And how many of those pictures do we actually go back and look at once we have shared them to social media? The memories will last longer than you think, and in the time you take fumbling to get your phone/camera out, in focus, with the right filter, and the clutter out of the background so it’s “share worthy,” the moment is passed and you have don’t have a picture or a memory. Be present! They grow up so fast…
- The experience of becoming a parent is soooo different for your partner, so you can’t expect them to understand what you are going through, and vice versa. Dads don’t have to worry if they are going to be able to produce enough milk. Dads don’t have to wake up every 2 hours to breastfeed, regardless of how tired they are. Dads have to worry about working enough to pay the bills and put food on the table, while still having as much time as possible to spend with their kids. Dads lose sleep at night dreading missing the important milestones while they work to save for their children’s futures. You and your partner are both struggling with new worries and responsibilities and its important to remember that although they might not understand what you are going through, they absolutely know how you feel. We share the fears, anxieties, sometimes despair, but we also share the joy, excitement, and wonder as our children learn and grow and become real people!
- You are going to get advice whether you ask for it or not, and there is a right way and a wrong way to deal with it. The wrong way to deal with it is to be defensive or make another mum feel like she is less-than. Every child is different and every mum is different and there is no exact way to be a good parent; the important thing is that we support each other. Take advice as simply a mum trying to help, because the majority of the time that’s all it really is. If you disagree with it, be polite. Pretty simple. Let’s lift each other up and not put each other down. Motherhood is the scariest hood you will ever visit!
- Being a Mum is truly the best job in the world, and I am so lucky to have such an incredible little boy.
By Mrs. Mel Telford
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