This ‘Newborns 101’ series will follow along with the first couple of major hurdles and milestones of having a baby to help out any other first time mums out there like myself in hearing some experiences from other mums who have actually been there. You can check out the previous posts in this series here.
Today I’ve got the lovely Jo from Loving Life After 40 sharing her wisdom on what she knows about parenting now, looking back on those heady newborn days.
Looking at my 6’2 teenage son it’s hard to imagine he was ever a newborn baby. Remembering back to those first days, weeks and months (heck even years), when I was trying to find my way as a mother (as well as take care of a new baby), I can see clearly the things that actually mattered and the things that really didn’t. Sixteen years and three children later these are the things I wish I had known then:
Give as much love, attention and patience to yourself as you give to your baby. During pregnancy all attention is focused on the mother but after a baby arrives mothers often get side-lined. Yes your baby is important, yes you need to give a lot of love and attention to your baby BUT you need to take care of yourself too. You need to sleep when you can, go for walks, eat well, read books and watch movies. Basically you need to take time out every now and again. Don’t feel guilty about it, it is an absolute necessity of being a good mum. Learn this lesson now and you will not only survive parenthood but you will thrive – plus you’ll be teaching your kids the importance of self-care.
Drop perfectionism. The house does not need to be spotless, baby clothes do not have to be ironed, you do not need to have perfect nails, perfect hair etc. Learn to be okay with good enough. If you keep chasing perfectionism you will drive yourself crazy and it is not a good trait to pass on to your kids. Relax a bit. It’s okay. Your kids want your time and attention not to watch you tidying up or rushing about trying to keep things perfect.
Let others help. You don’t have to do it all alone. You are not a failure if you accept help with the washing up or get a cleaner in once a week or get take out every now and again. There will be days when it all feels too much, when you feel bad because although you love your baby you are finding them tough to be around. Accept help and learn to ask for it too, don’t just wait for others to offer or you might be waiting a long time. We used to raise our families in strong communities with plenty of help and support but now modern life often sees us trying to do everything alone. You need to understand that you can’t do it all or eventually you will burn out. And that isn’t good for anyone.
Trust your instincts. There are a million and one baby books out there but guess what? Your baby hasn’t read a single one of them. Every baby is an individual, every mother is an individual and every home environment is a little bit different. What works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another (even in the same family) and whilst it’s great to seek advice and educate yourself as much as possible at the end of the day you have to trust your own instincts and make things work for you and your child.
Simplify, simplify, simplify. There’s a reason that when they get a bit bigger babies love the cardboard box more than the toy that was in it and that’s because they understand the importance of simple pleasures. Whatever it is you are doing keep it as simple as possible. Babies do not need one hundred different outfits, they do not need fancy toys, meals do not have to be 5-star quality. What they need is cuddles and time with you. Keep asking yourself how you can simplify things and you will find things are much easier and more enjoyable in those early months.
Enjoy it….and when you can’t don’t be too hard on yourself. Being a mum is hard work. Maybe the hardest work there is in my opinion. And there will be days when you don’t enjoy it so much. And that is okay. I know it can be hard when you are tired and I know that those newborns can be relentless in their need for attention but I promise that when you lookback you will only remember the good times. The times when you snuggled in bed together, or lay on a rug in the park, or splashed in a bath. You won’t remember whether your house was tidy or if you did the washing up or made it out of the house every day. You will remember the smell of their skin, the feel of their tiny hand gripping your finger, the way they smiled and laughed. Make memories, take photos, slow down as often as possible and remember that one day they will be taller than you and you will look at them knowing that you did a pretty good job after all.
Jo is a UK based mum to three gorgeous kids who refused to accept that getting older meant retiring from life. She knows that getting older means ditching all the drama of your younger years and focusing on what really matters: creating memories, enjoying what we have now, and finding ways to bring more pleasure into everyday life. Full of tips, tricks and inspiration Loving Life After 40 is the place to inspire and help you discover easy ways to bring even more of these things into your everyday life. You can also find Jo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when your babies were brand new?
Today I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT (I blog on Tuesdays)
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