Me with my 4-week-old son

8 home truths I’d go back and tell myself as a new mum

Update 21/12/2015: This post – along with all future parenting and family posts – will now appear on my new site, www.therewegoblog.com. Come over and take a look!

Three years ago today I sat on my sofa with a beautiful, healthy, 4-week-old baby, at the start of my much-anticipated year of maternity leave. And I hated it.

Every. Second.

I felt lost, tired and lonely. I begrudged my baby for taking up my precious time. I genuinely hadn’t considered quite how all-consuming life with a newborn baby would be (I naively bought a copy of Teach Yourself HTML and CSS to keep me busy. Yes, really.)

In short, I was an idiot. And 3 years on – sat on the same sofa while my kids take a rare nap at the same time – I can’t help but wish someone had taken me aside to explain a few home truths. Granted, I probably wouldn’t have listened. But here’s what I wish I could go back and tell that new mum on the sofa…

4-week-old baby

1. You do not have to launch a business.

Or write a novel. Or learn Mandarin. Yes, every magazine you read at the moment seems to be full of ‘inspirational’ women who’ve done all of those things while they’ve been ‘off’ work, and good for them. But you know what? All you need to do right now is get to the end of each day with a scrap of sanity and a baby who’s clean(ish), fed and still breathing.

2. You are allowed to sit and do nothing.

As in, absolutely nothing. If the baby is asleep on your chest and you can’t move from the sofa, that’s OK. In fact, it’s what Homes Under the Hammer was made for. This time doesn’t need to be filled with ‘something useful’. You sitting there, on that sofa, with the baby on your chest, is ‘something useful’. You will realise this one day, when it’s too late.

3. You will not get this time again.

Yes, you’ll have another baby, and you’ll have another year ‘off’. But it won’t be the same the second time around because this baby will be a toddler and that toddler won’t ever want to sit still. I know you get annoyed when people tell you this. But please, just try to hear them and know that what you see as boring today will seem like a luxury in a couple of years.

4. You don’t have to enjoy it.

Newsflash: sleepless nights are no fun. You don’t have to pretend you’re enjoying them. And you don’t have to feel bad that you’re not. Chances are, the well-meaning friend who chirps ‘enjoy every moment’ isn’t up for the fifth time that night, with cracked nipples and a screaming baby. It’s OK that this is no fun right now, and it’s OK to say it.

5. Your career will never be the same.

For better or for worse, it just won’t. Sorry. Yes, I know you think you’ll waltz back into your job and everything will be just as it was. I won’t bore you with the specifics, but it won’t be. Get used to the idea now, be prepared for change, and try to be open-minded about the future.

6. Your body won’t always be like this.

I know you feel like a frump and you barely recognise yourself in the mirror. But it IS temporary. You’ll get back into your jeans – they’ll just fit differently from now on. Everything will. On the other hand, listen to your husband when he says your boobs look amazing. He’s right – they do. Unfortunately they’re temporary, too.

7. You need to accept help.

Those offers of casseroles and cleaning and child-free time? Take them. Every single one of them. It’s OK to not be the magazine mum who can juggle the dinner and the cleaning and the childcare and still look like she’s jumped straight out of the pages of Good Housekeeping. It’s embarassing that you can’t find any clean pants or socks, and you’re eating Cornflakes out of a saucepan. I get that. But those women offering you help? They’ve all been there. Saucepans and all.

8. You are going to be a great mum.

I know you’re wondering what the hell you’ve done. I know you secretly keep questioning if you’d do it again, if you could go back. And I know you feel guilty that, right now, the answer is probably no. But fast-forward a few years and you’re doing it. You’re a fully-fledged mum, figuring things out as you go along, with 2 little people who look up to you as their everything. And it’s only now you realise that you wouldn’t have it any other way.

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49 thoughts on “8 home truths I’d go back and tell myself as a new mum

  1. Ella Mathews (ex-Crazy Stork Lady) says:

    I loved this- am currently early stages pregnant and already putting pressure on myself about how I should use my maternity leave ‘productively’ (if all goes well and pregnancy goes to term that is). This was just the slap round the head I needed. Need to keep remembering that we get time ‘off’ for a reason and that’s because raising a small person is bloody hard work. Thanks for this post xx

    • Pippa says:

      I hated being a new mum I didn’t bond with my baby and I stressed for years about how crap I was. I’m now a midwife and I always advise mums and dads…. The only thing you need to achieve in a day is to eat, feed the baby and make sure you go to the loo and sleep when baby sleeps every I mean everything else is a bonus. Good luck with your birth and all the early days x

      • Ella Mathews (ex-Crazy Stork Lady) says:

        That’s such good advice! I hope I have a midwife that tells me that as I think the more I hear it the more likely I will be to absorb it and stopping putting pressure on myself. Perfectionism and overachieving have been useful traits at times but I can’t see them serving me well on maternity leave! Thanks for your message xx

  2. SherryB says:

    Excellent article – I work with women before birth in my voluntary capacity, and they just don’t get how all time-consuming it is being a new mum. Until they are in it themselves. I don’t think any of us truly anticipate what to expect.

    • KG says:

      It’s difficult because I guess nobody wants to be the person telling a pregnant woman how hards it’s going to be, but at the same time it’s helpful to be warned of what’s coming! You’re right though, it’s impossible to know until you’re in the thick of it. Luckly by then it’s too late so you’ve just got to keep going 🙂 x

      • SherryB says:

        I do try to set expectations but I don’t think we’re ready to hear it at that stage. And until you’re in it, you don’t really know what it’s like. Loved your post.

      • Little Book of Sick says:

        Sorry to self promote… But this comment is exactly what I’ve written in one of my blogs… Please collect your Rose tinted glasses as you exit the Labour ward…. Have a read. If we knew what it was going to be like, the human race would be eradicated!!! X

  3. Sugar&Rhubarb says:

    true, true, true! I found the constant (yes, I have totally helpful people in my life) questions of what business idea I was going to come up with on maternity really unhelpful to my sense of just sitting and being with my baby!

    • KG says:

      Oh my gosh are you serious? That’s awful! I thought it was bad enough just constantly reading about it, but being asked? That’s a whole other level of ridiculousness!x

  4. Amy says:

    Love! Am currently on maternity leave for the second time and it really isn’t the same! There are a lot less naps taken,by both baby and me.lol.xx

    • KG says:

      It’s when they finally nap at the same time that everything suddenly gets better – I remember the first time my two did, it was heaven! Shame it took 6 months, by which point I’d already lost the plot 😉 x

  5. Kayana says:

    I love this. I have two babies. 1 and 2.5 yes old. They are very hard work and I often resent not being able to just trot out of the house and go for a run. Even just “popping to the shop” is no mean flight. But I wouldn’t change it for the world xx thanks for your post, I loved it x

  6. Alexandra the gr8... Mum!! says:

    KG – thank you for posting this. Its funny and sad but mostly its true!! At 12 weeks my beautiful baby girl is everything i wanted her to be.. My life on the other hand – aarrgggg! Once ide reached N0 8 i felt content that everything in my world will be ok – thats all mums need to know afterall.. And dont exoect that to come from the men in our lives either!! Tbh i dont think evey expectant mum needs to hear this (u can possibly understand it anyway YET) it just needs to come from a good friend, sister or mum about 6 weeks in 🙂 Good luck all u wonderful mums out there… Itll be ok in the end XxX

    • KG says:

      Took the words right out of my mouth 🙂 12 weeks is still what we refer to as the ‘dark days’, hah! But you’re almost out the other side and it definitely does get easier. Mainly when they start to sleep. I’m just SO bad without sleep!xx

  7. mummyslimming says:

    I only wish I’d read these words before having my son in February this year. I like you probably wouldn’t have listened at the time, I refused all offers of help and felt like I had to be superman. I had feelings of “why did we do this” (absolutely awful thoughts when you consider we had IVF to have him after trying for 4 years!) But I sit here now 7 months pregnant with our soon to be daughter and I know that it’s ok to give in to all of the above and live for the moment. Thank you! X

    • KG says:

      Well, one thing I’ve learned from all these comments is that so many of us feel exactly the same! It’s really sad that we put so much pressure on ourselves. But I’m so glad to hear it turned out OK for you – best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy and hopefully those newborn weeks will be slightly easier second time around 🙂 x

  8. Mel says:

    I am currently completely childless and plan to be for as long as until I am ready but this is such a great post! I now know that the feelings I anticipate will be normal! X

  9. John says:

    What a shame that so many ‘about to become’ mums know better than to accept offers of help from friends, both male and female!
    We may not be in the same situation but, as friends, we would like to be able to help you.
    Just tell us how??

  10. Sinead says:

    Had me near tears. Soooo true. Hated that no one told me how hard it would be. But 6months on it is getting easier every day. Now if I could just get my partner to understand it ant as easy as he thinks being home

  11. Bethlehem says:

    9. Before you know it you won’t be able to remember life before or life without these little people in it. And you will ALWAYS magically make space in your heart for the next one, no matter how much you think all your love is taken by the one you have. You love them all equally but differently for their own individualities.

  12. Heather says:

    Ahh 1 year, how lucky! Only get 3 months and she’s just developing a littler personality and i have to be back to work in just a few weeks, I’m so sad about this. You must live in Canada or work for a really awesome company!

  13. Peta says:

    The only thing missing is the “sleep when your baby sleeps” is a bunch of crap for mums of power-napping babies. My gorgeous little “crap face” has always just slept in 30 min intervals. Even now, at 9 months, it’s 30 mins. I’ve tried everything (awake longer periods, shorter periods, more activity, less activity, white noise, no noise, light room, dark room, scheduled sleeping, baby whisperer books, etc) to increase how long he sleeps so that I could sleep while he sleeps. But all I achieved was to stress myself out. Coming to terms with the fact that my beautiful, healthy little man only sleeps for 30 mins is the best thing I did. The pressure is off for me to have a perfect sleeping little man (he obviously gets what he needs because he wakes up happy) and we cope. I’m tired and happy at the same time. Although I did want to smack my friend who complained that her baby daughter no longer has 2.5 hrs for her lunchtime nap.

    • KG says:

      Oh my goodness, there’s a whole other post coming on that one! I remember the dreaded power naps very well – fortunately my second was a lot better and settled into longer naps much sooner (my little boy was 9 months when he finally went past the 30-min mark so there’s still hope!)x

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