Ok, this is probably the hundreth post you’ve read by some do gooder mother who thinks they know best giving you the five VITAL pieces of advice that are going to make your parenting experience seem magical and stress free.
I read them all too. Don’t spoil your baby. Use these bottles. You need THIS play gym. Blah, blah blah. I wish I could have the time back I spent reading them. So here we go, MY top five pieces of advice for new mums or mums to be…a newbie survival guide…
1) Accept what you’ve been given. I’m not saying your baby is an unwanted present, that’s not what I mean by this. What I mean by this is you are going to hear a LOT of stories about babies who sleep through the night from birth (we call those mothers liars) and whose babies don’t cry and are just so perfect. You’re probably not going to get one of those babies. I’m just being honest! Until I ACCEPTED that I wasn’t failing and that it’s ok for Olivia to be, well, Olivia, I didn’t relax. When I did my life instantly became easier. Which leads me nicely into number 2…
2) Everyone has advice for you. Ignore it. Yes, including mine! You start putting yourself under immense pressure “Such and such said this made their baby so chilled they got to wash their hair more than once a week without a screaming fest” so you do it. And it doesn’t work. Cue the distress at how something simply must be wrong with either you or your baby. There isn’t! Stop listening to other people, they mean well but 9/10 you’re just going to have to find out yourself what works for your individual baby.
3) Accept offers of help. Not advice, that can shove it, but real physical help. I’m a proud girl so me and Joe valiantly attempted to raise our cub alone but after 3 weeks of solid sleep deprivation like nothing we had ever experienced in our life we caved and my mum came and stayed to give us a night off. It was bliss. Don’t be proud, get help. 11 weeks on and she still comes and does my housework for me because when I don’t have a baby attached to my arms I just need to sit and be. I’m eternally grateful.
4) Exercise! If you’re able to get someone to watch your new arrival, take yourself either alone or with a friend and train. It might be the last thing you want to do but it will lift your mood and energise you better than anything can, including coffee. I had a c section so only started exercising again the last few weeks but it’s amazing how this helps lift my mood when I’m feeling worn out.
5) Don’t lose this time, it’s precious. I see it far too much on Facebook, new parents shamelessly bragging about their babies reaching milestones that they clearly haven’t and are being pushed into by their parents. Head control, sitting up, standing…I was guilty of it myself. Until I realised I would never get this time back and I’m glad I started to appreciate it. Now at almost 11 weeks old, Olivia screams blue murder if you cradle her like a ‘baby’ and I’m so glad I had weeks of indulging myself in those snuggles as every week she displays more of her forthright personality and craves independence. Most people, including my Health Visitor, told me I would ‘spoil’ her by holding her too much. Turns out she likes to sit or lie on the floor now so I guess everyone was wrong and what was ‘spoiling’ her actually made her feel secure enough to be alone in her bouncer or on her play gym.