Having babies and kids is super rad. Exhausting as hell but rad. Advice!? Not really as you’ll probably be inundated with unwanted advice the minute baby is born.
Practice your polite mmming and nodding and possibly eye rolling now to save time.
But seriously, I’m not going to tell you to enjoy or cherish every moment because that just makes mums feel shit for not cherishing every moment. And let’s be honest, parenting can be repetitive, boring and mundane at times. And there are LOTS of moments not to cherish; Like giant poo explosions, being so sleep deprived your body aches to curl up into a ball and hide from the world (or just your own children) and babies that refuse to sleep or nap. Because there is literally nothing more frustrating than trying to get a very tired baby to sleep, who needs sleep but would rather cry for hours while you pull your hair out trying everything to get them to sleep.
If that happens, when it happens, put them in a buggy (stroller) or strap them to yourself and get OUT of the house. You’ll feel instantly better… even if they are still crying. The sound of cars will drown them out (joking…kinda).
Babies are smart little critters and can pick up on stress so go do something to distract or cheer yourself up. Like take your wide awake non sleeping baby to a cafe or go through a drive through for a hands free meal. Whatever floats your boat. We’ve all good funny stories of the things we do/did to keep sane in those early days. I used to powerwalk the block and moan to friends.
The first few weeks and even months will feel repetitive and will probably pass by in a blur but there will be moments of pure joy. Like their first smile or giggle and when they search for you in a room. Just wait till they are a bit older and they can say “love you mum”. It’s super corny but honestly, those three words do make it all worth it.
If you feel like crying at any point, cry. If that evil partner of yours eats the last chocolate biscuit you were saving, cry (and demand he gets more). If that ad about everyone being amazing people while eating together comes on TV but it’s really just an advertisement for Vogels (yes, a loaf of bread), cry. Hormones and sleep deprivation are a biatch and have a lot to answer for.
Put yourself first. It’s super important. Feed yourself, nap and shower to feel normal otherwise you won’t have anything to give that wonderful new bundle of yours and even less to give to the man who loved you first.
Say YES to any offer of help, whether it be a meal, some chores or to hold the baby while you shower. The early days may be the only time you get offers of help so don’t be too polite to accept it.
Be kind to yourself and to your partner. None of you will be at your best while you are so tired and stretched to your limits. Try to support and encourage each other through this time, as much as you can. Resist the urge to spew angry words and frustrations at him and him alone because he didn’t put the ‘pee pee’ down or something equally frustratingly obvious. Or at least find a healthier way to articulate those feelings.
Let him find his own groove and way of doing things with bubs. Don’t hover and micromanage. Let them fail and find their own way. He’s going to be an amazing dad just as you will be a mum.
Find your tribe, your people. Non judgemental supportive ones are the keepers. Avoid the competitive milestone bragging ones that make you feel crap. Remember none of your parenting decisions are an issue until it’s an issue for YOU (or your partner) but not your judgy opinionated relative. If your coffee group was a fail, find a new group through parenting organisations such as Plunket, a playgroup or even a church mums group. Even if you just message a few mums online it can help you feel connected and less isolated between your own four walls. Community is key to fighting the isolation that comes with caring for a wee bubba 24 hours of the day, every day.
Most parenting will come naturally to you, and if not, ask family and friends (the right supportive ones of course). Google is great but then also not so great at the same time. Especially googling at 3am. Nothing good comes from googling “is my baby normal because…” at that time in the morning or anytime actually. The answer is always an incurable and inexplicable illness aka cancer or death.
Advise your partner to screen and stagger visitors (no further than the front door if necessary). The most important thing is that you get rest and sleep where possible, and often that will fall in the day as babies like to be WIDE awake from 1-5AM and asleep in the day. Because they hate us… just joking. They are confused apparently about night and day and how that all works. (VERY confused).
Ok, I ended up giving advice. Sorry. Pick and choose what you like from above apart from this one thing; you will be fantastic parents 🙂
Without a doubt.
By Jessica Muller, mum of two spirited boys.
I met Jess in South Korea while she was teaching English with her husband. They live in New Zealand and their stories of their boys they share are often comical. The little truths along the way show their strength & solidarity. Thank you for your story Jess.