Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Advice for First Time Mums

Normally I'd stay right away from advice given. You'll get more than enough of the unsolicited stuff on this voyage into motherhood.

But this advice I want to give is of a different sort than the best way to raise the baby, thoughts on feeding, sleeping, dressing, soothing... and all those other things that every man and their dog becomes and expert on when they see you're a new mum. Because, in the end, you realise all those things don't matter half as much as we thought they did.

The problem for a first time mum, of course, is that by the time you've figured out what's really important, those precious, fleeting days have passed you by already.

So here's my 2 cents worth for focusing on what really matters.

1. Do as much baby gazing as you can.

When you look back at this time, you aren't going to remember or care whether your washing was done or not. Wouldn't much rather be full of memories of that tiny little precious bundle? And it goes by so fast. 4 months in and I already could barely remember her at her newborn floppy size.

Absorb it. Imprint on your brain. Spend hours just breathing her in.

It will make all the hard stuff and sleeplessness worth it, if you just focus on absorbing the memories.

2. Don't let anyone devalue playing with your baby (not even yourself!)

If you spend the whole day just entertaining your baby and get absolutely nothing else done, well, good!

Maybe others will think you're lazy. Maybe you'll even think it of yourself from time to time.

But, for one, keeping a baby entertained all day is not as easy as it sounds.

And, two, you are doing immeasurable good for the foundations of that child's self worth, security and confidence by giving them that engagement. Will your child, when she is old and secure and happy, look back and say "Mum, why didn't you spend more time washing clothes and sweeping the floor, and less time playing with me? Why didn't you clean the house more, and have less of a relationship with me?"

I doubt it.

Don't let anyone make you feel that this is less than vital.

3. Find some switch off time

With all that baby loving, of course, there is the bare fact that it is exhausting. Being 'on call' 24/7 to that little person can take it's toll.

I was finding that even when I got a 'break' from the caring and nappy changing merry-go-round, I wasn't able to switch off because I was still being called on for advice, answers and attention; "Where are the wipes?" "Which cream should I put on?""Do you think she's tired?" and even the "Look at how cute she's being!"

If you're breast feeding, feed the little munchkin, and then palm her off to Daddy or Grandma for a few hours of switch off time, where you are not on call at all. If you have to, leave the house and switch off your phone so no-one can ask you questions. Don't feel guilty about it. They will cope for a couple of hours, and your brain will get to reset and refresh from the constant pressure of being 'on'.

4. Take videos

A lot of us are lucky enough to iPhones and all sorts with us at any given moment these days. Take videos. Photos too of course. I'm sure you're already doing a lot of that. But take as long a video as your phone's memory will allow.

You might think it's just mundane footage - and maybe others will think it is - but in a few months, years, decades time, you'll cherish these glimpses into the past.

That sums it up really. Cherish the mundane as much as you can. One day they will be your most precious memories.

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