There’s no doubt about it, motherhood is hard. Capital H Hard.
There are ups and downs. There are good days and bad days. We can feel amazing one second and then shit the next (I usually find this happens when I’m suddenly covered in some kind of bodily fluid – baby’s, not mine…). We think we’ve just about nailed it and then, nope, actually haven’t got a fucking clue.
Luckily there are a few things you can do to make things feel more manageable so here’s my top 5 tips on how to make mum life a little easier.
Get mummy friends
No one understands what it’s like to be a mum like another mum. And you can pretty much guarantee that at some point they have (or they will) go through whatever it is you are. You need people around you who aren’t going to judge if you turn up with sick in your hair (again – baby’s, not yours although who am I to judge…). You also need people around you who won’t mind if you cancel on them last minute because you got fuck all sleep that night. Or who will quite happily watch baby for a few minutes whilst you go and have a wee in peace.
When you’re looking for your mummy tribe make sure they are like you. If you’re a natural birth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping advocate then find one of those. If you’re a glass of wine at 5pm, feed them wotsits, let them use the ipad kind of mum then that’s what you look for. You want to be sure that you’ll find support, encouragement and laughter in your journey as a mum so choose your mummy friends well!
Talk it out, don’t bottle things up
According to Instagram motherhood is about being immaculately turned out (think full make up, magazine ready hair looking super stylish) with beautiful children who are perfectly behaved when doing crafts/outdoors activities/bath time etc.
We get painted a picture of this oh so wonderful life as a mum but the reality is that often it’s a little different. And if it’s not I do not want to hear about it – I much prefer thinking other mums lives are just as chaotic and disorganised as mine.
When things don’t go according to Instagram (or any other sort of social media or smug mummy friend) then we can feel like it’s us that’s wrong rather than seeing that motherhood really can be that shit sometimes. We can worry. A lot. We can feel inadequate. We can hate being a mum or feel like we just can’t do it.
And that’s totally normal. But you need to talk about it. Bottling it up will do no good. It will keep you stressed or on edge and that will impact on how you are with your baby or kids. It can also mount up over time and turn into something much more serious.
So if you’re not finding the mum life to be the picture of perfection and wonderful experience you’d hoped it would be, make sure you talk about it. With mummy friends is fine but also think about a professional. We see getting help as something only reserved for serious situations but actually it’s something you can dip into as and when you just want to get something off your chest so why not use it?
Avoid ‘supportive’ forums
We’ve become so accustomed these days to turning to the internet to get support that we don’t even question it anymore. The problem is, that in the last two weeks alone, I’ve seen supposedly ‘non judgemental’ mum forums turn into battle grounds for everything from breastfeeding to sling wearing to Calpol. With the best will in the world you can’t stop other mums having an opinion and we do need to accept that everyone is entitled to think however they want to think. What they shouldn’t be entitled to do is spread their opinions all over the internet, particularly when it’s in relation to someone else’s plea for support but that is what can happen.
If you want to use forums, take them with a pinch of salt. Be aware that you’ll get people who might not agree with you or who might outright tell you that you are wrong. If you’re not sure about something ask an expert. Don’t turn to a community of people who may not know what they are talking about or who have only read the information that already supports their views.
In the simplest terms, ‘mum’ forums have the potential to make you feel really fucking shitty about however it is you are choosing to parent. Yes, you might hear what you want but you also might end up with a load of conflicting advice or even criticism so why chance it. You have enough on your plate as a new mum – don’t make things even more confusing!
Do what you want, as much as possible
The best piece of advice I ever got as a new mum was to not get dressed for 6 weeks. Now I didn’t particularly take this literally but the spirit of the advice was this – life is really hard as new mum; don’t even think about doing anything you don’t have to. Take time to get to know your baby. Enjoy cuddles on the sofa and being able to nap when they do. Don’t put yourself under any pressure to go to baby groups, have visitors or do the weekly shop. Do what you want to do. Often.
And I think this advice is really good after the initial period too. We can get caught up in doing what other people want us to or doing things we’ve been told are essential for baby development (baby sensory anyone…). But why the fuck really??? OK it’s gets you out of the house and if you really want to join baby classes twice a day then go for it. But otherwise just do what ever you want as much as you can.
If you want to sit at home watching Netflix – go for it. If you want to stay in bed all day so you can nap whenever baby naps then do so. Don’t want to be inundated with visitors or in-laws – lock the door and pretend you’re not home (or just give them a call and explain you don’t feel like it). Or if you want to go sit in a pub with mummy friends for an afternoon – totally give me a call.
In short, the early days (and not so early days) will pass really quickly. Make sure you do whatever it is that you want to so you get the most enjoyment out of them. This is your post natal period – no one else’s. You do it however you see fit.
I don’t say this enough but you grew a human – you get to do whatever you want after. Literally, a whole new member of the human race. By yourself. In your body. Serious credits earned there. So make your life easier as a mum by letting yourself indulge. It can be whatever floats your boat. Chocolate; wine; baths; massages; walks in the country; reading; hobbies; cinema; Netflix at midnight. Whatever you want.
Treats are what we live for as mums. Our lives are more or less devoted to at least one needy baby (and that’s just the dads). So sadly, we often forget to look after ourselves. Like the oxygen mask situation, we are useless to everyone if we aren’t functioning at full strength. So take time to indulge in a little self care as often as you can.