For new Mums (after the first or even fourth baby) October 14 2015
So last week I had a conversation with a first time Mum that alarmed me. She has a very young baby and was worried about how she was going to “do it all”. She asked me how I juggled things with four kids, a job, a social life and everything that goes on in the rest of my life. It is a good question but my answer was this - you simply can’t compare the early days with a young baby, with where I am now.
Firstly, I do NOT have a it all together. There are days when things slip through the cracks, many days. If you’ve read my blog before I hope you find that to be the consistent message. The needs of my children are many and life is often a logistical nightmare. BUT they will not starve if I don’t feed them every three hours and most nights now (finally) I get a good nights sleep. (The only thing stopping me getting a great nights sleep is my love of social media and the ability of Instagram to draw you into a fascinating labyrinth).
The needs of a young baby are relentless and physically you are not usually in great condition. You can often feel very overwhelmed with it all. In fact, I think you probably should feel a little over whelmed with how different your life is now. Yes it is different, so accepting that is a good start. You can’t picture how and when it will get easier, and if you can, that time seems a long way off. There are SO many sleepless nights to get through before you might feel ‘normal’ again.
I urge Mums in this phase to just simplify and lower your expectations. All Mums in fact, regardless of the age of your children.
With young children, you are most likely to miss social engagements and you will be pissed off. Or if you attend, you will find nothing to wear that makes you feel great, you’ll have to leave early or you will have such a great time that the pounding hangover alone will deter you from doing it again in a hurry.
You will feel like you’re drowning in housework and washing and that you will never get on top of it. Just when you’re starting to feel like you are, a wave of gastro or something equally as disgusting, will go through your home. You probably will dislike new parts of your body. If you’re genetically blessed enough to ‘bounce back’ quickly, you will probably be judged for it anyway. You will probably not give your Husband / Partner the attention that you used to, as your affections are focused on your baby. Or your own Mum, or best friend or whoever is your new confidant and pillar of strength that you suddenly identify with so much more.
I don’t really like to give advice as it implies that you are an expert at something. I do not claim to be an expert, just someone who has experienced a lot either personally with my own children, or I’ve been that previously mentioned confident for another Mum.
So here is a little list of practical things you can do to hopefully make each day easier.
The days will add up and all of a sudden you will ‘come up for air’ and think, “that wasn’t so bad…now where is my Husband we need to make another baby”.
- Try not to be busy, be efficient. Multi-tasking can sometimes result in a several unfinished jobs in every room of the house. Try to do one job at a time from start to finish.
- To be efficient you must rest. To be fully rested, you can not have GUILT. Take 20 minutes with your feet up on the coach to eat your sandwich, rather than walking around and leaving half of it somewhere only to find it went through the wash with the load of whites. Book that massage. Sit still. Have a cup of tea in the garden without your phone or pulling out the weeds. Start and finish a cup with only staring and deep breathing in between.
- Go to bed early. The amount of times that you need to get up in the night is mostly out of your control (sorry if I am the first person to tell you this). What you can control is how early you jump into bed. I won’t ask you not to reply to text messages or have a TEN MINUTE scroll through social media, but that is it. Everything esle can wait. You will thank me in the morning.
- Write lists. Do NOT rely on your brain to remember things. Even for the most obvious of tasks. You are a new woman now and that unfortunately includes your memory. Part of it was removed with your placenta.
- Divide the list into a couple of jobs that MUST be done today and add to it with optional extra’s. If you get further down the list than expected, book that massage as a reward. If you don’t even cross one thing off the list, book that massage anyway, as you probably need it more.
- Connect with people. Have that chat with the stranger at the supermarket. Blast out a bunch of text messages to friends (they will boomerang back when you need it most). Book in date night. Attend Mothers Group. Whoever, wherever you like to connect with REAL people.
- Nourish your body. I will never live without coffee and chocolate so I try to be smart about everything else. Good quality, fresh, real food in whatever form is best for you. Walk, stretch and breathe as often as you can muster. Be kind to yourself.
- Nourish your soul. Say NO to a mediocre social invitation to do something that you TRULY love. That makes you feel like YOU. Not someone’s Partner, Mum, sister or friend. Make time for this, at the expense of other things that don’t make you feel as good about yourself.
- Do NOT compare yourself. Even to the Mum of the same age in the same street with a similar baby. Do not compare, ever.
- Do the best with what you have in your reach and with the energy you can muster from within.
- Be grateful. I’ve said this before but after even the roughest of nights and no matter how bad you feel, try to remember that there is a woman (millions actually) who would love to trade what you have.
So to that new Mum. You will be able to "do it all". One day.
It will probably JUST be for one day before it all falls to pieces again but hey, we need to be optimistic.
If you have any more advice like this, please share :)