Becoming a parent is one of the most wonderful things in the world, but it’s also incredibly hard work. It can be quite isolating and emotionally tough, which you could probably cope with if you’d had enough sleep, which you won’t have done. Last year my lovely friend Karen from That Lancashire Lass became a mum for the third time. In this guest post, she shares with us her tips for surviving motherhood.
Five savvy suggestions for surviving motherhood
It’s no secret that the first few weeks, months and years of parenting is hard work. The most beautiful and amazing thing in your life just happened, but it’s a shock to your body and your life changes drastically. Sometimes you feel like your kid is driving you up the wall and you need a bit of space, or even just a conversation with another grown up. Sometimes your four walls at home feel like they might start closing in on you and you need to get outside and get some air in your lungs. Other times you might need reassurance that your baby is doing just as well as all the other babies her age. And once in a while, you just need to know you’re doing okay.
I have always had good friends around me. When I had each of my babies my friends were there with gifts, baby cuddles and wine and they were a great source of support for me. The thing is though that once the initial visits wear off you find that your friends are at work, or busy with their own families and commitments. That’s the time you need to put yourself out there. Here are five things you can do to stave off the loneliness, isolation and general blues that can creep in when you have a new baby…
Make time for yourself
Whether it be painting your nails, going for a massage or simply having an early night while dad, sister or your mum watches the baby once a week, it’s really important to make time for yourself. I really struggled with this myself as I find it difficult to hand over the reins, but once I learned to let go a little bit I felt so much better in myself and I was a generally happier person. Which leads me onto point two…
I promise you that nobody is going to judge you for letting other people help with the baby. If someone you trust offers to help, to watch the baby while you nap or take a bath, to take him out in the pram while you hoover round (or even better if they offer to hoover!) then honestly, just say yes. It will make them feel good for being able to help and they really wouldn’t offer unless they meant it. People generally love to lend a hand. I’m not saying pack your newborn off to Nana’s for a month but do welcome the opportunity to shower for more than 30 seconds at a time!
Make some mum friends
Since there were 696,271 live births in England and Wales in 2016, I’m certain there are mums with children of a similar age to yours nearby! Using an app like Mush makes a world of difference when you need some contact with the outside world. You can use the app to search for parents with children of a similar age, with similar interests to yours or who are in your local area. Where I live there are several meet-ups per week, all of which started off as a simple connection on Mush. I love the app and have made some lovely new friends through it. I’d definitely recommend it.
Sleep when you can
You know when midwives say ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ and you think it’s ridiculous because who is going to cook dinner, wash the pots and do the laundry? Well you’ll feel much better if you sack the housework off and get your head down. The laundry will get done eventually and nobody will starve to death. Just order a takeaway.
Don’t be pressured
Formula or breastmilk? Cloth nappies or disposables? Routine or baby led days?
It really, truly, honestly doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks you should do. Sure, listen to what they have to say and make up your own mind about it, but when all is said and done you are the one bringing up this tiny human and it is your decision on how to do that. As long as you and your baby are safe and happy, then you crack on. There is no ‘right’ way to be a parent and we’re all different. Ask for advice if you need to, but have faith in yourself!
Are you a parent already? What advice on surviving motherhood would you give to new mums?