As a new mum, you’re probably wandering about in a fog of exhaustion and talcum powder. Gone the days of skipping around freely. Now you must navigate your life strapped to a tiny screaming person and a tent-sized nappy sack.
Nothing really prepares you for the reality of becoming a mum. You read parenting books, attend classes; recall the stories your own mum told about you as a baby. But none of it prepares you for the overnight transition from relatively composed human being to sleep-deprived, snappy madwoman. In the space of a day, you can swap between every emotion under the sun – joy, elation, devotion, desperation…
It’s not possible to see through the fog when you’re right in the thick of it, so here are our top tips to help you gain some clarity:
The exhaustion will end. When you’re staggering about with your chin dragging along the floor, it’s impossible to imagine you’ll ever experience a good night’s sleep again. You will.
Trust your own judgment. You may feel bullied into parenting a certain way with so much ‘expert’ advice out there. ‘Breast is best,’ they’ll tell you. Or, ‘Let your baby cry to sleep.’ The truth is, every situation is different and only you can figure out what is logical and best for your child.
Fresh air and adult company. When you’re feeling exhausted and vulnerable, it’s natural to want to hide away in the darkest hollows of your home living off marshmallows and Doritos. And while we strongly recommend this on occasion, it’s equally important to step outdoors and converse with fully developed human beings from time to time.
The world won’t end if your baby has puke on his romper suit. It’s easy to get caught up being overly proud and wanting your child to look perfect. But when your laundry basket is already overflowing like a blocked sewer, you don’t need to add to it unnecessarily. Nobody is going to notice the odd bit of spew (just put a bib around it).
Time flies. It might not feel like it now, but ask any mum with older children and she’ll quickly tell you she wished she’d taken the time to cherish those precious baby years more. Make the most of the small things; cuddles, mat time, stories. Celebrate each stage of your baby’s development. Once the time passes, it’s lost forever.
The power of empathy. There’s nothing more healing than a bunch of women going through the same thing. This is where mum’s group is awesome. You probably won’t connect with all of the women in your group, but you’ll form a special friendship with one or two mums that will last a lifetime. With them, you’ll laugh, weep, swap intimate stories and emerge through the fog intact.
Go with the flow. At times, you’ll feel a desire to look your best. To blow-dry your hair, slap on lipstick and step out in leathers and heals. Other times, you’ll want to slouch about in UGG boots with sleep in your eyes, your hair hanging wild and mad Russell Brand-style. Either is fine.
You can only juggle so many balls. We’d like to think our lives will carry on as normal after our baby is born, but it’s not realistic. Let go of some responsibilities. Get your partner to cook dinner, your mother-in-law to do the laundry, pay a neighbour’s teenager to part with their iPad and walk your dog. A baby will impact your life.
Give yourself a break. It’s ok to feel miserable at times. To scream, weep and swear at the patronising old lady shaking her head as you bottle-feed your baby. Becoming a mum isn’t always easy. You’ll make mistakes along the way; the good news is you have years to make amends.
So if you feel a fog, it will always pass. Trust us.
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