12 things I wish I knew before I became a mum
Every experience of diving head-first into motherhood is different. But if there is one thing that all mums can agree on, it’s that you can never be fully prepared for what it’s like becoming a mum.
Going through the birth – in whatever form it takes – and caring for a tiny baby afterwards, is more terrifying and more wonderful than anything you can imagine.
Here are some things I wish I knew earlier:
1. It’s really hard. So hard. I remember straight after I gave birth to my first baby, my first words were, “That should be illegal.” I couldn’t believe that women all over the world were putting themselves through that experience every day, every hour, every minute. It’s painful beyond anything I ever expected. But the rush was so incredible, I went back and did it two more times.
2. You will get very little sleep. You may not manage to get more than two hours of unbroken sleep for weeks or months at a time. Incredibly however, you can function. It’s not enjoyable or pretty, and your shoes may not match, but it’s doable.
3. Babies are incredibly needy. They don’t even know that they need to go to sleep when they’re tired. You need to teach them everything. And you will need to do everything for them for what seems like forever when you are in the trenches but trust me it’s not for forever!
4. From your maternal and child health nurse to the old man at your local fruit shop, everyone has an opinion on how to parent. You should absolutely listen to the professionals because they’ve seen a lot of babies and they know what they’re talking about. But you should also listen to your baby and your instincts and make a decision that works for you and your family.
5. Nobody is the perfect mum. It’s okay to make mistakes. If you’re lucky, sometimes you’ll learn from them.
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6. Accept help and also don’t be afraid to ask for it. Whether it’s a hand doing a load of laundry, picking up an older child or simply dropping off some shopping, just ask. There are no medals for doing everything.
7. Take time for yourself wherever you can. Have a nice warm bath, grab a few minutes of extra shut eye, go for a walk or simply sit on the couch with a cup of tea. It’s okay for your baby to form an attachment to Dad, Grandma, their carer at day care, or anyone else you trust to be in their life. That bond is a wonderful gift for your baby, their carer and you.
8. A trip to the supermarket can be the highlight of your day. Getting out of the house every day will save your sanity. It doesn’t matter where you go, just walk out the door (make sure you’re wearing pants first).
9. At times you may bore your non-baby friends. You will love this baby like you’ve never loved anything or anyone before. You will find their bowel movements fascinating. Not everyone will share your enthusiasm. Add to that the fact that you aren’t getting out as much to sample the newest cocktails on offer. . That’s okay. This period will pass. Some friends will stick, and some may fade away, but you will make a lot of new friends too.
10. Babies always wake up the minute you step into the shower or decide to close your eyes for a few minutes. Fact.
11. You will go through rough patches, and you will go through cruisy patches. Neither of them lasts forever.
12. The days are long but the years are short. You may yearn for a time where they’re out from under your feet and more self-reliant bath and feed themselves but I promise, you will blink, and they will be starting school and you be wishing for those precious first few years back . Parent time works in a way that cannot be explained by science.