With a dear friend of mine about to give birth to her first child, I thought I’d write my blog today, giving my ‘advice’ to new parents. Having had 4 kids you would think I’m a pro, but boy, with each child bought new and well erm, strange problems!
So here are my top ten tips for surviving becoming new parents (and the things nobody tells you!)
1. Poo. Yes it’s disgusting, smelly and nobody likes to talk about it, let alone deal with it when it comes from another human being. But yes, your life for the first few months with seem like one endless stream of dirty stinking nappies. Oh and please be prepared for a rainbow of colours from mustard yellow, to dark bottle green and everything in between.
2. Sleep – what’s that? Everyone tells you to sleep when they baby sleeps, but let’s face it, unless you’re a bloke that’s not going to happen. There’s bottles to wash, milk to pump, ironing piling up, the list is endless. The quicker you realise you’ll face the world on 2 hours sleep, the easier it will be all round. As they say if you don’t expect anything (like sleep) then you won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t happen. A quick word of advice for all you ladies, if you want to share the night feeds then accept the fact early that your other half will probably sleep through the babies screams. So if you want to take it in turns then be aware you might have to give them a short sharp jab in the ribs to wake them up. This will then save the 4am rows about why they didn’t wake up. (Just one finger, that’s all you need to jolt them back to reality, its tried and tested!)
3. Lower your standards. Let’s face facts, you’ll have this screaming, little bundle of pucking gorgeousness who will surprisingly take up every waking, and sleeping hour. DO NOT expect a clean house, or homemade meals every night (which takes me to my next point) it’s ok not to have a spotless home and if visitors mention the mess or have a moan, then pass them the hoover! There will however come a point where the dust becomes so thick you wonder what ornament lies beneath it, that you may need to put the baby down and pick up a duster. But in the first two weeks as a minimum – forget it!
4. Stock up on frozen food and chocolate. The last thing you will want to be doing is cutting peppers and onions when all you want to do is curl up in ball and cry, then sleep. Make sure you have food that you can bung in the oven or microwave for a quick and easy dinner. It’s not forever so don’t beat yourself up over it. And the chocolate, well no explanation needed.
5. Embrace the grunge look. Having a shower and wearing clean clothes may seem like a luxury the first few weeks. So don’t be hard on yourself if you’re still in your PJ’s at tea time. (Those PJ’s that have the bit of sick on each shoulder and the brown stain which you’re hoping is chocolate from the KitKat you stuffed for lunch.)
6. Be prepare for pain; be it the pain of trying to breastfeed, the pain of the ‘after labour soreness’ or the pain of feeling like your breasts are going to explode when your milk comes in. You will be tired, you will be sore, you will want to kill the next person who hugs you and presses on your new well-endowed chest. If you’re prepared then that’s half the battle, as it was a HUGE shock for me with my first, and well, erm my second! (I forgot in my lovely bliss state of pregnancy!) One of the worst, yet the funniest times for me was with my third child. My breasts were so full that when my little boy latched on the milk came in full force and choked the poor little thing. He spluttered and came off, but my boobs were still spraying milk everywhere to the point it almost sprayed to the other side of the room! I had to scream to my husband to get my something to catch it in! Oh the joys!
7. All visitors will come at once, or they will time it that so every time you sit down the door bell goes. Its sods law, you will either get all your friends and family turn up at once, so desperate to see the baby that you are so overwhelmed you contemplate hiding in the toilet. Or one visitor will leave and ten minutes later when you’ve just got the baby to sleep, another will turn up and that will be the same every day for 3 days. My advice, if you have guests, show them the kettle. Make them do a little bit of running around for you – milk it!
8. You will not need all those fancy clothes you bought in newborn size because they were so cute you couldn’t resist parting your cash for. If you’re not at the end of the pregnancy – put your credit card away! Have a few nice outfits and a whole lot of vests and baby grows. You will need the nice few outfits for when you eventually venture out to a baby group and want to show the other mums that you’ve got yourself together. (Not showing that you still have yesterday’s underwear on because you hadn’t done any washing other than baby clothes!) But mainly your gorgeous bundle will spend more time spitting up, which you can guarantee will be as soon as you put on the nice cute outfit. So stick with the nice, comfortable babygrows that can be chucked in the wash ten times a day.
Oh and do not even bother with baby tights. Not only is it like trying to put a snake in tights, it can cause more problems that they’re worth. When my daughter was 2 months old, I dressed her up in a beautiful frilly dress and tights for her Daddy’s birthday. My husband came home kissed us both and I passed her to him. As I did so I looked at her tights wondering why they were now yellow when they started of whi…t..e, oh dear! It was up to her neck and down to her toes!!
9. Breast or bottle, honestly it doesn’t matter. We women put so much pressure on ourselves to breastfeed that we spend the first few months miserable either trying everything we can to breastfeed, or living with the guilt that we gave our baby a BOTTLE! Arrrgh how could we?! Believe you me, from a mother of 4 kids, one who was completely bottle fed, one breastfed until 6 weeks then bottle, one half and half for 4 months and one who was completely breastfed for 10 months – It doesn’t matter! A happy healthy baby and a happy healthy mumma is the most important thing. Do not put expectations on yourself, breastfeeding it hard. Getting the right latch, engorged breasts, mastitis, growth spurts, cluster feeding, the list is endless. Sometimes you may even get a baby that refuses to latch, like my daughter, she just wasn’t interested no matter what I tried. But it’s ok, honestly, formula milk is not evil, so always have some as a backup and DO NOT beat yourself up if that is what you choose to do and DO NOT spend time defending your decision. Your baby, your breasts, your choice!
10. Last but not least, take photos, lots of them. They grow up so quick and those little moments you think you will remember, won’t always stay with you. So take photos of them, every step of the way. My children love to look back at pictures of them as a baby. Plus they always need one for a school project!
But even after the mammoth long list of my advice, the one top tip I would give you all, enjoy it. Embrace being parents, laugh at the silly situations you face together, make memories, be confident in who you are as a mother and the choices you make. But remember it won’t last forever! Be it good, be it bad, it will go in the blink of an eye. So when you’re so tired you can’t function, remember it won’t be forever and they are well and truly worth it.