Sunday 10 March 2013

Mother's Day: 10 Tips For New Mums

Last year’s Mother’s Day post was soppy and emotional because I’d only been a Mummy for 10 weeks. This year, as the hardened mother of a fourteen month old, I thought I’d focus on the things I’ve learnt since last Mother’s Day. The breastfeeding hormones, the newborn smell and the exhaustion all serve to put you under your baby’s spell. You’re drugged up on them. Mother Nature is smart, she knows that without the druggy haze, you’d soon get tired of being covered in sick and accidentally getting poo on your hand. So, for those of you still under the spell, here are the cold hard facts from the other side:

  1. You will never get your house back. It’s gone. No matter what plans you have for making it yours again, they won’t work. It is their house now. Your dining room will forever feature an inch thick layer of crusted food. The living room walls will always feature at least some dirty hand prints. And the toys, oh the toys, they will spill out into every room. You will never hide the toys. They own you.
  2. Google is not your friend. There is a direct correlation link between how neurotic you are as a mother, and how long you spend googling for baby-related advice. Who are these evil wenches who spend their time on forums writing about all the terrible, terrible things that your baby could have RIGHT NOW if his poo is green? If you care about your mental health, step away from the iPhone.
  3. Pick your playgroups carefully. Don’t just go to the one closest to you. Go round all the local groups, do a recce, and work out which one suits you. The best ones are the ones with the hands on parents. Some of the groups I’ve attended, the parents are so uninvolved and ignorant, that the children are practically ferral.
  4. Beauty regimes are not for Mums. I don’t know if I ever had a beauty regime. Unless using a wet finger to drag smudged mascara out of your eye bags first thing in the morning counts as a beauty regime? But I know I’ll never have one now. I have cleansers, toners, face masks, moisturisers and more, all gathering dust. I hardly have time to look in the mirror most days, I don’t know when I’m supposed to find the time to epilate. I could have a colony of ants living in my eyebrows now and I’d be too tired to notice.
  5. Sensory play solves all problems. Sensory play encompasses anything that turns your house into a soggy, messy, stained pit to be ashamed of. But, it’s also really good for entertaining fussy children. Whenever Ebony is in a foul mood, I announce it’s sensory play time. Then I run into the kitchen, grab some porridge oats, rice, tomato puree or whatever I can find, and then shove it in front of her with an array of containers and she will be entertained for hours.

  6. Having a poorly baby is absolute torture. Not only are they crabby and, this may sound cruel but, a total cry-baby, but you’re stuck in the house with them. I was trapped in for two weeks recently with a sick child, and it was actually the most frustrating experience of my life. Sensory play worked for the first week and a half, then she just wanted to go out. And because I wouldn’t let her, she decided to ruin me by forcing me to read Peekaboo Bunny over and over and over and over.
  7. There is no way of hiding the tired. Concealer is great when you’re 17 and have flawless skin, but when you’re an exhausted Mum surviving on about four hours sleep a night, concealer will do nothing to hide your ridiculously dark and saggy eye bags.
  8. You’ll miss things. No matter how much time you spend with your child, you will always miss the firsts. I spend all day with Ebony, we do everything together. As soon as her Dad gets home from work, and I nip upstairs for a wee, she is guaranteed to do her first cartwheel, play her first trumpet solo or hit her first home run. The soundtrack to my evening wee is usually my husband screeching excitedly about whatever amazing feat she has just accomplished in my absence.
  9. This is your stomach now. You could cry about it, and spend hours staring at it in the mirror wishing for it to go away. But there’s no point. Whatever shape or muscle was there before, is now long gone and there’s no way of getting it back. Every time you eat a ginger nut, you will immediately look seven months pregnant. This is your life now.
  10. Set yourself one goal a day. It could be anything. Tackle the intimidating Mount Laundry, finish your book, or remove the colony of ants from your left eyebrow. Whatever you want to do, make that your goal. You won’t manage it, of course. But it will give you something to wish you’d had time to do. In actual fact, you will spend all day as you always do - changing nappies, singing nursery rhymes, cleaning up after sensory play and generally wondering where the day has gone.

What tips would you give to new parents?

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