Monday 21 January 2013

Lessons Learnt During The First Year of Motherhood

Ebony turned one on the 9 January. The past year has flown by, and I can’t believe that my little baby is now a whole year old. I think back to myself a year ago, and I remember how terrified I was. I had never been in charge of anything as valuable, precious and fragile before and I was terrified I'd do something wrong. This post is ten things I've learnt over the past year.

1. 365 is a lot of sleepless nights. Alright, that’s not really wisdom. It’s more of a warning. It’s a lot of tiredness. A lot of forgetting things. And a lot of walking into door frames. My advice? Naps are not just for babies and Grandads.

2. Washable nappies will save you lots of money, and doing an extra wash every few days (or every other day with a newborn) is nothing compared to the expense of buying disposable nappies. And don’t stop there, washable wipes, grim as they may sound, are amazing too. They’re really soft on baby’s skin, there are no chemicals, and they’re environmentally friendly. And, because they’re thicker than normal wipes, you are much less likely to end up covered in crap. 

3. Charity shops are filled with good condition books, toys and clothes. I’ve pretty much spent my entire year trudging round the local charity shops and I’ve got some amazing treasures. Brand new Dr Seuss books for 25p, beautiful vintage dresses for 75p and a whole array of musical instruments for less than £1. It makes no difference to Ebony whether the toy is brand new and just cost me £15, or second hand and priced at only 30p, she gets the same enjoyment out of it. We didn’t buy her a single brand new present for Christmas or her birthday, we just got good condition items from charity shops. Maternity pay has taught me the importance of frugal living!

4. Breastfeeding will save you a lot of money, a lot of hassle and a lot of tears. Breastfeeding is the answer to any parenting problem. Teething pains, vomiting bug, want reassuring, need to get to sleep; breastfeeding is the cure you’ve been looking for. But, it's also hard work at the beginning. You're not a failure as a Mum just because you don't take straight to breastfeeding. Don't be embarrassed to ask for help.

5. You are the parent, follow your instincts and don’t let other people make you feel worried/self conscious/like a bad parent. Everyone parents differently. Do what works for you, and ignore unwanted advice. 
6. Keep reading. I have been reading parenting books all year, and I’m really glad. Once you have a baby, it’s more important than ever to challenge your parenting ideas. I’m currently reading Unconditional Parenting which is an amazing book and is really opening my eyes to the way that my actions and words may affect my daughter’s personality as she develops. Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean you know it all. Keep seeking out new information which could make you a better parent. 
7. Make sure you have carpet cleaner in the house. Poo and wee will get everywhere in that first year. And sick, actually. And snot. I recommend keeping a pet stain remover handy. 
8. Keep talking. When your baby is tiny, it’s hard to think of things to say all the time. But listening to you talk will help them develop their language skills, so it is important. As soon as the baby is old enough to start communicating back (even just with grunts and giggles), this gets a lot easier, but it’s still important in those first few months. My only worry now is that I have gotten so used to speaking aloud, I may never stop. I might actually become one of the street corner people you see telling themselves angry stories. 
9. It’s ok that you’ve been irrational this year. The hormones, the sleep deprivation, the reduced adult conversation, the vomit, the poo... it’s normal to be a little crabby. Your friends and family will understand, and if they don’t, they’re probably arseholes. 
10. Don’t wish your baby away. I have spent this year desperately wishing the next stage to arrive sooner. Please hold your head up, roll over, sit up, crawl crawl crawl, say Mama, come on just walk a few steps. I’ve longed for each new skill with a desperate intensity. And then, as soon as the new skill is mastered, I regret it. Apart from the head holding, that was most inconvenient when I had to do it for her. But everything else, I’ve regretted instantly. Trying to get a velcro nappy securely fastened around a rolling, crawling, climbing, pissing baby is beyond stressful, I rue the day I ever wished her to roll. Don’t worry about when your baby will do these things, just know that they will and you’ll wish they hadn’t. Enjoy the peace while it lasts.
What are your words of parenting wisdom?
The photo showcases Ebony's birthday cake which was lovingly made by my friend Beckys Cake Boutique.

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