When people find out you’re a new mum, get ready to be bombarded with ALL THE ADVICE. It’s easy to feel like you’re coming down with a major case of information overload, especially in the early stages. You read one thing and hear another – it can be tough to decide what advice to follow. But here’s the thing: as you gain more experience, you’ll find out some tips work and some don’t. And that even if you plan, plan, plan and do all the research in your quest to become a super mum, nothing will turn out the way you intended it to be (isn’t that a piece of advice?). Pretty overwhelming stuff, right?
As someone who’s received her fair share of solicited and unsolicited advice, here’s the advice I’ve actually followed so far:
“Do what works best for you.”
If there’s one thing we learned in this crazy journey called motherhood, it’s that when it comes to raising kids, we should never say never. It’s easy to feel pressured to do the right thing – like zero screen time or never giving our kids sugar – but being a bit lax when it comes to following the rules is perfectly OK. We understand there are some things that just need to get done or you just need some peace and quiet for a few minutes. Cutting corners does NOT make you a bad mum. You just need to do what works for you when you need it most.
“Trust your instincts.”
You know the saying “Mum knows best”? Well, we do, especially when it comes to our kids. Sure, we may have a helping hand or even send them to childcare, but nobody knows our little ones better than we do. After all, we’re the ones who’ve carried them in our wombs for nine months, or know why they prefer green M&Ms over red ones. We know what makes them happy and what makes them sad. All you’ve got to do is own it and you’re set!
“When it’s quiet, trouble’s usually afoot.”
Although this is more applicable for those toothsome toddler years, it’s best to be prepared. Toddlers, when left alone (please don’t leave them alone for too long – you’ll see why!) will do everything and anything you’ve asked them not to do. And that includes smearing Sudocrem all their faces, just because.
“Ask for help.”
There’s no doubt that mums are amazing. We can grow humans inside our bodies, gain and lose several dress sizes in less than a year, feed our babies and go to work at the same time. But being badass doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. Mums, we know that you can do everything but it doesn’t mean that you have to. Know that it’s OK to be human, have a breaking point and ask for help when you’re reaching it.
“Don’t let mum guilt eat you up.”
Mum guilt is the worst feeling ever. It eats you up inside every time you think you’re doing something great and makes you second guess yourself EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. What happens is that instead of enjoying this supposedly awesome time in our lives, we’re constantly nitpicking and thinking about things we could have done right.
“There are some things that can’t be googled.”
As tempting as it is to google everything baby- and kid-related, trust us: it won’t make your worries go away. Instead, it’ll probably create new things to worry about that isn’t useful or helpful for anyone. The more parenting experience you get, you’ll find a solid mum tribe you can rely on for honest and helpful advice.
“Take lots of photos.”
One of the best things about being a mum nowadays is that we have uber-cool smartphones that double as cameras. We can take as many pictures as we want, whenever and wherever we please – so don’t scrimp on the photos! It doesn’t matter if bub is in his birthday suit or if you aren’t wearing make-up. Sometimes, it’s those decidedly unglam (aka realistic) moments that are the most picture perfect.
“Everything is a phase.”
The fourth trimester. Sleep regression. Teething. Terrible twos. Threenagers. Fournado. If it seems like there’s a word for every crazy milestone your kid goes through, there probably is. And, according to our parents, parenting doesn’t get any easier. Each phase comes with its own fun set of problems – yay! So if you’re struggling, just keep on keeping on. As tiring as the current phase you’re in may seem, don’t worry – it won’t last forever.
“You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be present.”
Thanks to social media, we all have this idea of what a ‘perfect’ mum is supposed to be like. But the fact of the matter is that nobody is perfect. We can’t live up to social media and even our own expectations of what a mum is supposed to be. But what we can be is present. We need to make the most of what precious time we have, put away our phones and focus on our child. Yes, the days are long but the years are very short. Why not use that time wisely?
“Don’t listen to advice.”
What may work for you may not work for somebody else, and vice-versa. That’s why it’s better to just go with it and see what happens. Also feel free to ignore advice and take a step back when someone asks for advice. Sometimes, it’s better for people to figure things out for themselves and just get support as needed.
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