FRIDAY FIVE: What NOT to do when you’re a new mum…(from a new mum, 11 months on)
MOTHERHOOD is a bundle of shoulds. You should be doing this. Your baby should be doing that.
After being a mum for a whopping 11 months now (I can’t quite believe my little girl turns one in a few weeks!) I can safely say that I have never heard or been on the receiving end of so many shoulds.
So whilst I wouldn’t dream of telling you what you should be doing, I would like to share a few thoughts with you on what I think you SHOULDN’T do.
Ready? Ok, here we go…
Get drawn into a competitive battle
Motherhood can often feel like a battleground and I’m not just talking about mother/baby struggles here. If you haven’t yet experienced the ‘competitive’ mum yet, trust me, you will. It’s just a matter of time.
Competitive mums are a funny, toxic breed of mum that love nothing more than to make you feel inferior about yourself and your baby. In fact, it’s what they live for.
They are the mums that suspiciously eye you up when you walk into a new play group, ask prying questions, pull concerned (but insincere) faces if you express any worries and just cannot contain their utter glee if you say that your little one cannot – walk, crawl or sleep through the night yet – especially if theirs can.
They love to think that they are better, that their baby is somehow better than yours. In fact don’t be surprised to hear that their little Tommy / Tilly has been a perfect sleeper since day one, can speak three languages already and is a champion crawler (ok, so I’m exaggerating here slightly).
So why do they it? Who knows. But I’m guessing it comes from a mixture of pride (completely normal) and a serious inferiority complex (not normal).
Comparing yourself or your baby to others is dangerous territory and will do nothing but heap anxiety and insecurity on your already heavily burdened shoulders.
So don’t do it. Don’t get drawn into it. And avoid competitive mothers like the plague.
If you take nothing else away from this post today, just take this. Know that you are a good mother.
Motherhood is bloody hard at times. There, I said it. Every day you find yourself faced with challenges, some you know how to tackle (see how much you’re learning already!) whilst others you don’t.
On those days when motherhood seems impossible, your doubt will envelop you if you let it. You may feel like a failure, feel fearful or even panicked. But you must fight it.
Know that you can do this. No matter what motherhood throws at you, you can handle it. Always remember that nobody knows your baby better than you.
A mother’s love knows no bounds. It truly is amazing how much we can take and how much of ourselves we can give. So ignore the doubt, ignore the ‘shoulds’ and trust yourself. You CAN do this.
How do I know? Because you’re already doing it mamma.
Think you are alone
It can be a lonely world, can motherhood.
Especially if you find yourself stuck indoors with a tired, grumpy, poorly or teething baby. You may feel like you’re in a bubble. You may feel completely and utterly alone. But you’re not. Not really.
There are women all across the world whom are spending their days exactly as you are, right now. They’re just as exhausted. They’re struggling with exactly the same problems. They’re thinking that everyone else makes it look so easy. Sound familiar?
You don’t have to feel alone as a new mum but … you do need to pop that bubble.
Get out the house. Go for a walk. Visit someone, anyone and talk. Go to a baby group. Speak to other mums. (Twitter is brilliant for this). Speak to your midwife, GP or health visitor for advice.
Know that whatever you’re going through, someone has been through exactly the same … and survived! You will too, so keep going and don’t be afraid to reach out to others.
Take a look in the mirror and repeat after me, I’m still in here… I’m still in here…I’m still in HERE!
Motherhood is all-consuming but you must not let it consume you totally. Yes it will change you, have changed you already, but you’re still the same person. A little different yes but also improved.
It’s easy to lose yourself when you’re a new mum. I can distinctly remember looking in the mirror on one occasion, thinking “who the hell am I now?!”
Don’t lose sight of what makes you, YOU. Being a mother does not define you. It isn’t your identity. Your baby does not want or expect you to give up being who you are! And nor does anyone else. So don’t do it.
If your nails have always been important to you, make sure you find the time to paint them. If you’re sick of looking an exhausted mess every day, make time to put on some lipstick. If you feel you need to let your hair down, get a night out planned in the diary.
You’ll be a much better mum because of it.
Try to be superwoman
I hate to break this to you but you’re NOT superwoman.
You may think you can do it all and have it all, but you can’t. Not long term anyway. And certainly not without turning into a complete and utter wreck. I know, I know, I hear ya! It’s not fair. We should be able to have it all.
But the ‘having it all’ dream is exactly that. A dream. Complete and utter fantasy.
So what are we supposed to do? Well, the way I see it, is this:
Whilst it isn’t possible to have it all, It IS possible to have enough.
My having it all dream includes:
Perfect days with Elsie, a spotless house, an immaculate wardrobe, a glamorous life, time for family, friends and socialising, a hugely successful blog that I write for every day, time to write a book and freelance work that pays a fortune.
Whilst my ‘enough’ is:
Spending time with Elsie, a happy house, time to grab a shower, enough time to occasionally catch up with family and friends, keeping a blog going, creating book ideas and working steadily as a freelancer.
Catch my drift?
Ditch the have it all idea and find YOUR version of ‘enough’ and make it work for you. It may not be your dream life, but you never know, it might just turn out to feel like one.
Till the next time, to all the mums out there, I salute you.