I CAN hardly believe it but it’s true, my beautiful girl will turn two years of age in just a few days time.
Just where oh where did my baby go?!
As I prepare for Elsie’s birthday celebrations (she’s only requested that I make her a Raa Raa cake people, help!) I’ve also been thinking about the parenting journey that I’ve been on over the past couple of years.
When Elsie arrived I knew very little about looking after babies and children, you could even say I was clueless. But two years later, she’s still alive (hoorah!) happy and bursting with character, so I don’t think I’ve done too bad a parenting job at all, for a new mum who didn’t have a clue.
Here are fifty things I’ve learnt about motherhood over the past two years. Some of you will recognise many of them. Others (perhaps like other ‘clueless’ first time mums) may even pick up a few tips. Here’s hoping ey?
1. When you become a parent, your life will never be the same as it was, but that’s ok because your little person or little people will only enrich it.
2. It is EXHAUSTING at times, but you soon become an expert at getting by on little sleep and dealing with the awful sleep deprivation.
3. Breastfeeding can be a tricky business, but if it comes easily to you and you enjoy it, it really is rather lovely.
4. If you do breastfeed, people will stare or become uncomfortable when you get your boobs out. But it’s their problem not yours so just ignore them, give them a wave and carry on.
5. You don’t have to breastfeed. As long as your baby is being fed, it’s nobody’s business how they get their milk.
6. Changing a nappy is ridiculously easy once you know how. I still needed a midwife to show me though.
7. Leaky nappies happen often (and are rather horrid) so always be prepared. Always pop a change of outfit, nappies and wipes in your bag.
8. Ignore the celebrities, it takes time to get your pre-pregnancy body back, so relax and don’t be hard on yourself. And whilst we’re at it, be proud of those stretchmarks too, I beg of you.
9. Everyone will always have on an opinion on your parenting. Life will therefore be easier if you accept it and don’t take it personally. Let people spout off, just know that you don’t have to listen or take notice.
10. Some parenting days will be such a struggle, that you end up shedding tears.
11. But other days will seem like an absolute doodle. When they happen, enjoy every second.
12. Never get complacent. Children are very good at surprises so expect the unexpected.
13. Don’t compare your child to anyone elses and don’t let anyone do it to you. Competitive parenting is awful and will never make you popular.
14. CBeebies will be your best friend. When you need to tidy up, get dressed or drag a brush through your hair, it’s ok to stick the tele on for a bit.
15. Babies really aren’t newborns for long. At the time it can feel like an eternity but it really does go by far too quickly.
16. You are never off duty when you’re a parent. Never. But you somehow get used to it.
17. Teething is a bitch. When it happens try everything until you find something that helps.
18. It’s perfectly ok to rush your child to A&E when you mistake a sweat rash and fever for meningitis or they stick a pea up their nose. Yes it’s embarrassing but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
19. It can takes donkey’s years for your child to settle at nursery but they will do and guess what? They’ll even grow to love it.
20. When your child is upset or in pain, there is no worse feeling in the world.
21. Children don’t need lots of toys but they do need stimulation, company and lots of love and affection.
22. When it comes to play, the simplest things like bubbles, balls, books, cardboard boxes and crayons, are the best. (And the cheapest)
23. However, if you can get your hands on a Jumperoo, do. Little people go crazy for them!
24. As a parent to a little one, you will never drink a full cup of warm tea of coffee, again. Unless they’re at nursery or with the grandparents that is.
25. You will however drink a lot more wine. And you will look forward to it.
26. The cry it out method does NOT work for everyone and can often make things worse.
27. When your child doesn’t sleep, the only solution, is to do what works for YOU.
28. ‘Baby brain’ happens. To the best of us. Annoying but comes in handy for those times when you need ‘selective memory’.
29. The love you have for your child is like nothing you will experience or have experienced before. It really is the most beautiful thing.
30. You would happily kill or give up your life to protect your child. The fiercest women I know are all mothers.
31. Motherhood is a gift and a privilege but even devoted mums need and deserve a break from time to time.
32. Your house will become a pigsty. Accept the mess during the day and clear when they are in bed. Nobody really cares how messy you house is, as much as you.
33. If you work, you will always feel guilty but it’s a great thing to do, so keep at it.
34. Motherhood can often feel lonely, but fresh air, plenty of long walks, coffee with friends and talking to people can help.
35. Every child plays up in public sometimes. But even though you know this, you still want the ground to swallow you up when it happens to be yours.
36. Little people pick up on everything so watch you language and your manners. Be kind and realise that how you treat others, is what your child will perceive as the norm. Be the right example.
37. Bumps and scrapes will become a part of your daily life once they are on the move.
38. Sometimes it can take a really long time until they’re on the move, but fret not, that’s ok.
39. Little people move quick so grow eyes in the back of your head if you can.
40. Sometimes babies and toddlers eat LOTS. Other days they will hardly eat a thing. Worrying yes but totally normal.
41. Not every baby or toddler sleeps through the night. Consider yourself incredibly lucky if they do.
42. Gap socks are the best in the world for little people as they cannot pull them off their feet. My sister told me this. I am forever in her debt.
43. Toddler tantrums will happen completely out of the blue, and can often be really funny. Unless you’re in public.
44. Nothing cannot be fixed with a big mummy cuddle.
45. Motherhood will change you but only for the better. Saying that, make sure you hold on to your identity too. It’s easy to lose it sometimes.
46. Nobody is a perfect mum. Nobody. Even the best of us have really sh***y days. So never feel that you are not good enough, because you are.
47. Motherhood is a bloody tough job and often undervalued but it is the only one that really counts. (Same with fatherhood).
48. It’s ok to struggle and ask for help. Grandparents, other relatives and friends will all chip in to give you a break if you’re lucky, ask nicely or bribe them.
49. There is absolutely no feeling in the world like the moment when you hold your child for the first time. You will remember it forever and think of it often.
50. Finally…no matter how bad your day is, or how bad you feel, nothing will cheer you up or make you feel more grateful to be alive, than to receive a kiss, smile, chuckle or cuddle from your child. Yes they can be hard work at times, but they really do know how to make you feel like life is worth living.