Somehow, my teeny tiny person is a year old this month. It seems like yesterday that I was panicking about breaking her every time I touched her, and it’s a little crazy to me that she’s gone from this tiny human on the left, to the cheeky monkey on the right that would rather eat cheerios than do anything else.
So, in the spirit of turning one year old, here are 12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of being a mum.
1. It’s ok (and normal) to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing 100% of the time
Let’s be honest, when you deliver a baby, they’re not born with a handbook too (though that would be super helpful). While everyone would like to think they do, nobody has the perfect formula for the ideal way to raise a child – you can only follow your instincts, do your best and listen to guidance from sources you trust. Don’t let people make you feel like less of a person if you’re unsure on the best way to do something, it’s perfectly natural.
2. While babies are fragile, they’re more sturdy than you give them credit for
When my daughter was born, I was so worried I was going to hurt her because she looked so fragile. In the months to come, however, I’d learn she was anything but. At 8 weeks old she was diagnosed with Pyloric Stenosis (you can read about that here) and had emergency surgery to correct the issue. It was a scary time for us, but it showed us that she was stubborn, and a born fighter. Since then she’s been learning to crawl, and she’s now walking. I’ve seen her fall (and bounce) so many times and been worried she’s hurt herself, but she just carries on like nothing has happened.
3. It’s ok to ask for help
Everyone needs a break from time to time. Being with your little person 24/7 is physically and emotionally draining, and it’s really hard to keep up with everything and keep up with them at the same time! If you read my previous post
on being a disabled parent, you’ll know I have a lot to contend with at the moment, so this is probably the thing I’ve learnt most in the last year. Before I had my daughter, I was so stubborn and tried to do everything myself. I’m trying to be better at knowing when I’ve hit my limit and realising I need to ask for help before I burn out!
4. Cloth nappies are a game changer
This one was a major learning curve. Before trying out cloth nappies with my monster, I’d never come across them before! Thankfully, with some encouragement from Maria we got to grips with them fairly quickly. You can read Maria’s post about cloth nappies here.
It’s so handy knowing I’ll never have to run out for nappies in the middle of the night, it keeps the £££ down and they’re good for my little one’s sensitive skin. The prints are adorable, and that extra chunky butt is oh so cute. Plus, they’re good for the planet, so they’re a win win really!
5. Make time for yourself and your partner
This one is for all of you who are in a relationship. Make time to maintain that foundation, because you model your relationship every day to your kids. Even if it’s just half an hour at the end of the day, make sure you sit down and communicate properly with your partner. And for those of you who aren’t in a relationship – make time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
6. Be your child’s advocate
This (along with my next point) has taken me a while to be comfortable with, but honestly it shouldn’t have. At such a young age, my daughter isn’t able to verbally communicate that she doesn’t want to do something, but as her mum I can tell when she doesn’t want to do something, and I need to be there to back her up. This includes not making her hug or kiss people when she doesn’t want to. You can read more on this on Harriet’s post on sex positive parenting.
7. Be clear on how you want to raise your child, and don’t compromise for others
If you want to discipline your children a certain way, make sure you’re clear about it with everybody who will be taking care of your child, because there is nothing more frustrating than teaching your child for six weeks that they cannot play with your glasses, only to look over and see someone handing theirs over as a chew toy.
8. Your house will never be tidy 100% of the time and that is ok
Everyone knows that if a baby is having fun, there is a high likelihood that they are making a massive mess! I love having a tidy home, but I love seeing my smiler having fun more, and I’d rather take the time to enjoy her while she is small and have a tidy house when she’s older (read:she can clean up as payback) and make some brilliant memories now. Plus, as soon as she’s gone to bed I hide her toys away inside the TV unit and suddenly my living room is tidy again. Who knew.
9. Take photos, but be present
I love taking photographs as much as the next person, and now that she’s learning to walk I’d love to get it on video, but I’d rather watch it happen in front of me rather than through a screen. We do tend to limit screen time in our house; little one doesn’t watch television so is fascinated by the television in other people’s houses. In 2017, researchers at the Illinois State University and the University of Michigan Medical School published a paper funded by The Pennsylvania State University, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in which the conclusion was that parent’s excessive use of mobile phones can drive behavioural problems in children under 5. You can read the NHS’s assessment of the paper here. While the study has some issues, I did feel convicted when I read it and resolved to try and be more present in the day time when my mini me was up and about.
10.Be prepared or prepare to fail
I’m an organised person anyway, but since having a baby I find I have to be an organised person on steroids. If we don’t have a meal plan for the week, we’re in trouble and I fall behind. We have a column in our calendar for jobs, and I write the jobs I have to get done each day, even the basics like hoovering and putting a wash load on (which is a must if you’re keeping on top of washing cloth nappies). We have spare clothes, thermometers, every cream you can think of, bibs, bottles, and practically the kitchen sink in our nappy bag, but it’s better it’s spare than desperately needed.It may sound like overkill, and I feel like I make lists for my lists sometimes, but it keeps us afloat so something must be working!
11. Always carry snacks
There is nothing worse than being hangry. Hanger. Is. A. Real. Thing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, The Oxford Dictionary defines being hangry as
“ADJECTIVE – informal. Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.”
There is no shame in keeping a snack in the nappy bag for adults and babies alike. It sounds like such an obvious thing, but you’d be surprised how many people have been shocked that I keep food in there for me too. Try it. You’ll thank me.
12. Allow yourself WAY more time than you’d think to leave the house
This. Took. Some. Time.
Ask anyone who knows us, and they’ll confirm, we were at least an hour late for everything until baby was at least a month old. It sounds stupid because at that age, they don’t move around, but my goodness was it a challenge. I’d try and leave the house 47 times and realise I’d left something vital inside every single time. Somehow, even though it’s much tougher to get little one ready and dressed now (think crocodile wrestling) we’re rarely late. It’s taken us some time, but we’ve finally got there.
I honestly can’t believe that time has flown so quickly and my little miracle is going to be one in just a few days time. The last year has been tough but so rewarding, and she makes my day every day.
What did you learn in the first year of being a mum?
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