Being a mum is the best thing in the world, but it’s also the hardest job too.
When I met Richard, I knew that we’d end up staying together, getting married and having kids. We’ve always had the same outlook and perspective on life, even though our personalities and characteristics are very different. He makes me laugh, do silly things and he looks after me so well.
We moved in together almost straight away, we got engaged after three years, married after five and had our boys within our fifth and sixth year together. Those years were our craziest and we found it really hard to bring up two boys a year apart – everything was hard. It was financially draining, emotionally and physically draining and I’m sure my mental health took a tumble too, as I was always so tired. I know I’m not alone, so many others feel like this too. No one told me what it was like before I had my own children, or perhaps they did and I didn’t listen. Nevertheless, here are 9 things I wish I’d been told before I became a mum:
1. Nobody has a clue what they’re doing.
Yes, that’s right! No one (and I mean no one) has all the answers about how to be a great parent, no matter how many books you’ve read. Everyone is starting out in their time and they’ll (eventually) figure out the best way to parent their child, because every child is different. So don’t worry about having it all figured out.
2. You’re shattered all the time.
Babies are awake at all hours throughout the day and night and this can be exhausting! But don’t worry, it is a phase, and when they grow, normal sleeping patterns will resume. Every new Mum feels exhausted most of the time, so just remember, you’re not the only one.
3. Parent perfection doesnt exist
Luckily I’ve always been pretty laid back about parenting, but I know some people put a huge amount of pressure on themselves to try and be the perfect parent. Perfection doesn’t exist, so just try and be the best you can be.
4. Your patience will be pushed to the limit (on a continuous basis)
Being a parent is really hard at times, and when your babies are young they’re either crying for milk, nappy changes, food or something else, and at times the crying can seem relentless (especially in the middle of the night). Then when they grow, they have little minds of their own and they want to push the boundaries and/or challenge the status quo. This is when you’ll need even more patience because it can be bl**dy hard at times to keep your cool. Mindfulness has really helped me to remain calm and just take a breath, rather than snapping.
5. You can feel like you’ve lost your identity
This happened a few times over a three-year period for me, as I felt like all I did was change nappies, breast feed babies and talk in baby talk. As lovely as this was, it was hard, and I felt a little dishevelled at times. I felt like a ‘mum’, thigh deep in baby stuff and not like ‘Kelly’ at all. This is completely normal and every mum I know goes through this phase, but remember – it’s just a phase.
6. Making time for you is crucial
Being a parent is hard and rewarding all at the same time. Life becomes about everyone else and your role has changed. You are now a provider, mother, nurturer and educator and this can be exhausting. In order to be the best mum you can be, you must look after yourself, and that means arranging a baby sitter while you go for a walk, hit the gym or enjoy a massage. This is the time where you’re doing something for you, whatever it is that makes you feel like you, because if you have your own needs fulfilled then you’ll feel a lot happier, and that’s better for everyone.
7. Don’t lock yourself away
I’ve met a few Mums who have intentionally chosen to stay at home instead of making the effort to mingle at baby groups or play groups. They’ve made excuses not to meet up with friends in similar situations because their child is playing up or struggling to feed, but those are the times you should be mingling more. Going to play groups and baby groups was my saviour because I met other like-minded mums who were in the thick of motherhood, and they were experiencing the same things as me. They were learning and struggling too and this kept me sane. I’m still in touch with many of them now!
8. Learn how to respond instead of react
When everybody’s tired, it’s easy to snap at one another. I know this only too well, as having two babies 12 months apart was really hard and while one parent was dealing with one baby the other was with the other. We lived in a three-storey house and we would often be two floors apart, shouting for a nappy or the wipes. Very quickly, emotions would run high, especially when we were tired (and grumpy). So learn how to respond in situations and not react. This is something mindfulness has taught me and it’s genuinely changed the way I communicate with both Richard and the boys.
9. Practice self care
This is the most important point to remember as a mum. Looking after yourself can seem selfish when you’re a new mum, but it’s crucial. Self care means looking after your mental and physical health and that involves getting the sleep you need, eating healthy and nutritious meals and having the alone time you need to stay mentally and physically well.
If you’re keen to find out more about mindfulness or meditation, then sign up to our newsletter as I’ve got an online meditation series being released later this year, and an online mindfulness course being released early 2019.
I hope you’ve found this useful. Motherhood is the best thing I’ve ever done and I’m loving every moment of it, but it does challenge me at times. I’ve never strived for perfection as being good most of the time is the best I can do, and I’m happy with that. Just be kind to yourself.