"What I REALLY want to say to first time mums..."
Out there with one baby, your first born, thinking how hard it is? How you literally have NO IDEA what to do? How difficult it is to get out of the house some days?
Yeah, I feel you. I've been there. I know how scared you are. How sore you are. How every little thing can seem insurmountable. How exhausted you are.
I feel you, trust me, and I sympathise. I really REALLY do.
But, I have a message for you all (and here's a bit of tough love for you...sorry!)...
Suck it up. RIGHT NOW.
Because - one is easy (well, easier). Two or more babies/kids is a logistical nightmare.
Of course, there are many beautiful parts of motherhood - don't get me wrong, I'm not a 'Negative Nelly' or anything. I am completely in awe of my kids, that my hubby and I created them, everything they learn daily, the little people they're becoming, the precious moments yadda yadda yadda...I FULLY appreciate how lucky I am, and am so grateful every day that we're all happy and healthy...
BUT, that does negate the fact that multiple kids is HARD.
Yeah yeah, I know. It's not until you have your second that you get the benefit of hindsight and realise how easy (comparatively) 'just' having one was.
You can't be expected to know that in advance.
So, here I am to tell you!
If I was you, I'd make sure I did the following - while I still could!:
Soak it up, and bide your time.
My regret from my first year of motherhood? Not being ‘in the moment’ enough and soaking up the early days.
From the time our first Harry was born, I was stressed about getting him into a good routine. I monitored every minute of his day, read all the advice books, and tried to plan and run everything perfectly. Yep, I've always been a bit of a perfectionist. It was too much.
Do not plan any major life events in the first year of your baby's life (i.e. a wedding, like I did!). It takes the focus a little bit off bub and, while of course they aren't neglected, you WILL regret it somewhat.
Don't stress about 'doing it all' (well, as much as I did!)
I think us mums put too much pressure on ourselves to 'do it all'. We want to have our cake and eat it too - the perfect child, tidy house, a career and more. Women tend to glorify busy and compete to see who has the most on their plate.
I’m not saying you can’t ‘do it all’. Just pick your battles, so to speak.
Ditch the 'shoulds'
When I was a first-time mum, I was very focussed on milestones. What my child SHOULD be doing, and when. Everything from what they should be eating, to how long they should be sleeping, whether they should be crawling, if they were able to eat chunky food...yep, I Googled that shit like a mad woman.
But it didn't take very long for me to realise something. "SHOULD" can just get F*CKED.
Because, every baby is different. Even within families - Harry didn't crawl until he was 6 months, while Aoife started at 5 months. Harry was walking at 11 months, Aoife is trying but I think it'll be another month or two yet. Harry loved to breastfeed while Aoife didn't.
Yes, there are some things you need to be aware of and get checked if they happen too late. But quit comparing your bub to others, or what 'they' say in books.
Baby books suck (ish)
I feel like I wasted Harry's newborn-ness. I didn’t really take the time to enjoy the cuddles for as long as possible – instead of holding him just that little bit longer, I would put him down in his cot because “he had to get used to self settling”.
I rarely rocked him to sleep in case he formed ‘sleep attachments’. I fed to a strict timetable, not on demand.
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a monster – of course I would go to him when he needed me, cuddling and rocking, and would give him extra feeds if he needed it. I did what I knew best at the time, but regret not soaking up every ounce of newborn goodness.
Getting him into a routine really early was great for all of us - but I was so busy it all went past in a blur. Then with Aoife, I was too busy running around after a toddler as well to really soak it up!
Go out. With them. Often.
Actually, as much as you can. Think going out with your ONE newborn/baby is hard? Wait until they're moving. Or walking. And you have more than one to keep eyes on? Then, it's hard bloody work. Sometimes, it's literally impossible. Or is that just because Harry's a runner?! haha.
My days with just Aoife? Bliss. Well, not perfect. She still has her moments. But they are EASY PEASY compared with when I have both of them.
Cafes. Early evening drinks. If the child will sit in a pram, it doesn't matter if they need a dummy - just get some YOU time and couple time while you can. Because, before long you might just regret not doing it more.
From when they turn 1, it's all over!
Oh your child is 12 months? Awesome, your life is now officially over ("dun dun DUNNNN"). Totally joking! But, shit just got real (both literally and figuratively, ewwwwww).
Now that I’ve experienced our boy as a toddler, I realise how hard the 12-24 month (and beyond!) period can be. They can understand so much, yet can’t communicate as much as they’d like. They have so much going on in their little heads and get frustrated a lot, which can lead to behavioural issues.
They are active but don’t really listen. The practicalities are hard - they might not be great at feeding themselves, and are still in nappies. They might not be great at independent play (which for me meant breastfeeding our new little one was a nightmare and very interrupted, she also had reflux which was a nightmare and meant we gave up breastfeeding after around four months).
I noticed a huge change in our little man when he turned 2. He was all of a sudden a pretty independent little boy, grabbing his own drink bottle and shoes on the way out the door.
So, I hope that hasn't scared the living daylights out of you in terms of having another. I just want you to really enjoy and make the most of the time you have now.
Yes, the first part of this blog was a bit harsh. Harsh but true, no?