I find writing about parenting/being a mum a funny thing. I mean, what the hell do I know?! It’s been 13 weeks as I write this and I can’t exactly sit here and type away like some sort of oracle of parenting. But then I guess I’m not trying to be – I just want to do two things. One is capture periods of time for myself as a mum and both how it feels in both good and bad ways – because I know time is passing so quickly there will be phases or moments that if I don’t capture them will probably forget as I speed into the next one. Then two I want to share anything I can that might help someone else. I’m sure a hell of a lot of things I could share will be useless rambles but I know I read a lot of other parenting/mum things in the run up to having Ella and it really helped me find my way in terms of everything from what ‘essentials’ I needed to get before she was born to what the hell these percentile things everyone was talking about are… or other lingo that seems to become second nature in the baby bubble.
But to kick off what will hopefully be a relatively regular type of post on the blog I thought I’d run through a series of little bits and bobs I’ve learnt over the past 13 weeks since becoming a mum.
Muslins are my new best friends
If there’s one thing you decide to buy in bulk before you have a baby my advice is let it be muslins. But many multiples and then buy more, just in case. They’re handy for SO much. Mainly burping/milk related but also the large ones serve as sun shades, light blankets and general dribble-wipers. They get soggy quickly, hence my advice to have many in reach at all times. Also perfect for taking makeup off at night too… a clean one obviously.
Being organised is key to my sanity
I’ve always loved the idea of being a super organised person. However my personality means I am a sort of super organised, disorganised person. I have lists, I know what I need to do at any one time but I start 15 of them, finish three and leave others part done. Causing much chaos and confusion in my brain. Since having Ella a few small organised routines have helped me feel like I have life in hand. One – my bottle sterilising routine. I won’t bore you and go into detail but my inner control freak is happiest when I have this in hand. Secondly – laundry. This is now more of a moving conveyor belt in our house rather than a once or twice a week chore. I now just have a constantly flow of things but this actually helps as prevents build ups and means I’m never going to be without something clean for Ella or one of those all important muslins. Thirdly – having the nappy bag 90% prepared and organised helps SO much. Knowing I have all I need, means getting ready to leave the house is significantly less of a challenge. Just add freshly sterilised bottles, milk and a clean spare dummy and I’m good to go.
Social media & your phone mean more than ever
You know that sort of eye-roll person who sees a mum pushing a buggy with one hand holding their phone? It might be easy to judge, but in actual fact, having a network of people to talk to away from the baby bubble – either about baby stuff or just to get a brain-break from baby life is absolutely VITAL in my head. Being able to scroll social media or just whatsapp friends makes those middle of the night feeds or tired walks around town with the buggy a smidge less lonely. Which counts for a hell of a lot when life feels like it’s changed beyond recognition.
There’s more to adapt to than just caring for a baby
This is one I could talk in great detail about. However, I’ll try and keep it short. Having a baby is undeniably a huge life change. Previously just two of you, or just you. Now there’s a tiny human who is 100% reliant on you for everything. You suddenly seem to come second (more on this). You have to change your entire day/night to focus on feeding/changing and generally caring for this small human. That in itself is hard. But then there’s other things to adapt to, a new dynamic between you and your partner. Learning (both of you) how to try and get some vague sort of balance between caring for your offspring and doing those little (or big) things that keep you both happy and sane individually, plus trying to keep your home from falling into chaos plus – ideally – time together too. There’s a lot of moving parts, a hell of a lot of change and a hell of a lot to adjust to. If anything, the day to day care of the baby is the easy part*
*slight caveat here in that it very much depends on the baby and yourself, this is more of a sweeping and slightly sarcastic comment… not true reflection of parenthood entirely.
New motherhood can be incredibly lonely
One of the things I found hardest in the first few weeks was how lonely it all was. Once the initial flow of visitors has passed life starts to get into the ‘new normal’ and it’s very easy to spend days at home with baby (and dogs) without any contact. Contact from friends changes too, everyone is so busy it’s easy to assume everyone else is just too busy to be in touch. There’s a bit of an assumption that you have a baby therefore you can’t/won’t be able to do certain things so maybe you don’t get asked about meeting up in the same way as you did before. Suddenly realising how different life looks can be a shock. Even whilst you’re absolutely besotted with your child, that doesn’t mean the change – and to some extent isolation – can’t really hit you.
Being ‘selfish’ isn’t a bad thing
Of course I don’t mean just ignore your baby and hit the town or something. But carving out moments of time to do things you WANT to do rather than just NEED to do can really help deal with the shock of change motherhood can bring. For me in the early days this was a simple as having a shower. Not always easy at all with a new baby but making sure having a shower was a priority for me meant I felt 95% more ready to tackle a day of mum life. Now we’re into more of a flow of things being selfish is making sure (or at least trying) to carve out those bits of time to do nice things.
Eating for two is a hard habit to break
During pregnancy I was far from the perfect example of healthy eating. I think by the last month my bump was 50:50 between actual baby and jaffa cakes. I had a serious addiction going on and even now writing about them the cravings are real. Of course I didn’t have the self control to have just one or two… it was a whole packet. Funnily enough this does mean that I am sitting a few *cough* pounds heavier than I was this time last year and whilst some weight does of course fall off after having the baby. Some of it does stay behind… and breaking that jaffa cake habit is no easy task. Especially when I realise I’m a bit of an emotional eater. This is a work in progress and whilst I’ve gone cold-turkey on the jaffa cake habit (sorry to McVities if you see your sales suddenly drop in my local area, my fault).
Baby talk comes surprisingly easily
I never thought I’d be the person doing all the goo-goo/ga-ga baby talk to my child. But it just kicks in. Don’t try to fight it, just go with it. It’s a fact of life. Maybe try and avoid talking to Da-da in baby voice when out without baby… but hey, whatever floats your boat.
People have no awareness of when it’s appropriate to ask if you’re having a second child
That’s life. People ask annoying things (single – when are you getting a boyfriend. Engaged – when is the wedding? Married – when are you having kids… In your 30’s and not married… when are you having kids… work for yourself… when are you going to get a ‘proper job’… etc etc) None of this really bothered me all that much as I know in reality it’s just people making small talk really. But for me, being asked if we were having more kids when I was still recovering from the birth of the first one… yeah, that would be a definite ‘choose your moments’ situation.
You can love your child but not love everything about being a mum
I love Ella more than I could explain. I see her face and it just fills me with warm fuzzy feelings. But do I love being a mum when I’m being puked on multiple times a day? Do I love changing nappies or the relentless burping? Not really. Not in that moment. Ok, so when she grins up at me whilst I change the nappy… yeah that makes it worthwhile, of course! Sure, sometimes when she pukes after I’ve just changed after the last puke… those are the sort of laugh or cry moments. Do I love that I’ve had to say goodbye to some sides of life that I absolutely loved and will miss (mostly the frequent travel) no, not completely. Is it worth it? I bloody hope so. I am happy and grateful to be a mum? Yes, 100% But that doesn’t mean everyday is sunshine and roses or that every change that comes with having a baby is one that’s easy to adjust to. Which leads nicely to…
Being body-positive post-baby is hard
Actually, being body-positive any time can be hard. I’d LOVE to be one of those people who see their stretch marks or carry a few extra pounds and genuinely embrace it. But I definitely found the body changes in pregnancy hard and now I’ve had her there are so many changes that aren’t easy to feel good about at all times. From less perky boobs, saggy belly with stretch marks and a whole load of dark-circle and tired-eye lines. It can be hard to look in the mirror and like what you see. I do try and go easy on myself about all of that, I’m not starting any crazy diets and haven’t thought much about exercise beyond taking the dogs for a walk. But just putting this out there about feeling good post-baby, not easy. I can however still be totally amazed that my body actually managed to grow and push out an actual small human.
Ella’s grandparents are awesome
Ok, so this is a bit of a niche one but seeing my parents, and Ollie’s parents just absolutely adore Ella is one of my favourite things about having her. Not just because they’re keen to help with some ad-hoc childcare (which I can’t even say how much I appreciate…) but just seeing how much they love her is amazing. She’s a lucky little girl to be surrounded by the family she has (not just the grandparents). Never mind seeing my grandma – Ella’s great-grandma – meet her recently. When she just beams with huge gummy smiles at her (Ella, not my grandma…) it’s incredible.
How much the odds are stacked against us (mums/women) to juggle career and family
It’s only early days for me in trying to navigate the minefield that is working and raising my daughter but already – and through hearing friends situations – I’ve come to realise how absolutely impossible the situation of trying to navigate a career at the same time as looking after your child or children can be. How it’s automatically put on to the woman as being responsible for this. I could go on and on about this but the pure cost of it is prohibitive to work and having to somehow make a call between one or the other or feel like you’re failing a bit in either camp. It’s a tricky juggling act but I am SO determined to make it work and don’t want to just give up on something that is so important to me too. Honestly it’s a tough situation to even get my head around, especially as it is such an unknown. But I hope we work it out, whatever that looks like.