Dear first-timer me,
Right now you’re feeling pretty overwhelmed and being way too hard on yourself.
You knew this was going to be hard, but you didn’t realise quite how emotional it would make you feel, and how much chaos a tiny person can bring into your life.
Since that little bundle of joy, and trouble, came screaming into the world you feel like you’ve had no time to even draw breath.
Between the endless visits from well-wishers and health visitors, trying to keep on top of the mess and desperately attempting to crack this breastfeeding business, you don’t know how you’re going to get through this. You keep turning to hubby and wailing in a panic: “There aren’t enough hours in the day.”
You’re confused about what your baby needs, worried you’re getting it all wrong and spending way too much time on Google trying to figure out how to get it “right”.
I want you to stop, take a deep breath and read the following very carefully:
No-one is getting it “right”
Despite what you think the pretty pictures on social media may be telling you, every mum struggles in the beginning. It might be self-doubt, worry, baby blues, or physical challenges, but there is not a first-time mum out there that sits on a fluffy cloud of baby bliss all day dressed all in white with not a hair out of place.
Not only is no-one getting it right, but in fact there is no right way to parenting. There is only your way.
If you take every decision and every action with love at the core of what you’re doing, then you will be doing the absolute best thing for your baby. That’s what makes a good mummy. And that’s what you need to remind yourself every day.
You don’t have to do everything
There really is no such thing as a supermum. You need to stop attempting to keep the house pristine, all the laundry in order, and cook a dinner from scratch every night.
The number one priority right now is your baby. Housework can fall by the wayside for a few weeks at least, or you can delegate some of it to one of your many enthusiastic visitors.
The crying does stop
You wonder how on earth you will ever be able to sleep again. Why won’t your baby just stay asleep in her moses basket? Why does she snap awake every time you so much as think about putting her down? Why does she cry for hours and hours on end in the evenings?
Trust me when I say that these fussy evenings, the frantic crying at naptime, will pass. You won’t always feel totally useless. This phase is completely normal and all you can do is ride it out.
As long as she is fed, clean, warm and comfy, then you’ve done your bit. Just comfort her as best you can. This too shall pass.
Step away from Google
Although there is a lot of good information to be gleaned from the internet, there is also a lot of bad and damaging information out there. What works for one mum, doesn’t necessarily work for another.
An internet search engine may tell you that your baby should be sleeping for two hours straight at naptime and at least six uninterrupted hours at night by now, but your baby didn’t read that forum thread/article/how-to guide.
Stop stressing that your baby is doing stuff that isn’t normal. The fact is that as long as your baby is healthy, gaining weight and keeping you elbow deep in dirty nappies, then you need to cut back on the worry.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to babies. So stop paying attention to what others say your baby SHOULD be doing and just accept the way she is right now.
Don’t buy so many baby products
You bought a baby bath, a sling and sleep aids that today are gathering dust in the loft, and have done for some time. You really don’t need so much “stuff” when it comes to your little one.
Clothes are a must-have, bedding is definitely required and a well-stocked baby skin and bath care drawer are essential.
Products such as Vicks BabyRub, which features mild fragrances of rosemary, lavender and aloe vera to help your baby feel calm and relaxed before they go to sleep, are what you really need.
Not only does this magic stuff help your little one to wind down and settle, but rubbing this gorgeous-smelling BabyRub into your little one’s delicate skin is a fab bonding experience.
She won’t always be so little
Just pause, sit down with your baby in your arms and enjoy the moment. I still cuddle her in my arms today, but she’s rather more wriggly and argumentative these days!
Enjoy her while she’s tiny and wants to be still in your arms. This time passes by in the blink of an eye and, though you may not feel it now, you will miss her being this tiny one day.
Today you have two happy and healthy children, aged 1 and 3, who love you to pieces. It’s going to be OK first-timer, you’re doing an amazing job.