I’m on a mission at the moment to declutter our house.
I can’t think straight surrounded by mess and over the last few weeks, it’s all got a bit out of hand. Our cupboards are bursting and I’m constantly tripping over piles of stray, mostly glitter related, crap. So I’ve been making a start and sorting through everything we own, repeating Marie Kondo’s mantra a hundred times a day to myself, “does it spark joy or is it useful?” If it does neither then it’s lobbed in a black bag.
I’ve made a good effort already with my wardrobe. Chucking out the last of my maternity clothes which I’d been holding onto more for comfort rather than the thought that I might need them again one day. That ship has most definitely sailed. Then yesterday I moved onto my books and stumbled across eight baby/parenting advice books. Eight!
Looking at them all piled up I felt a huge wave of sadness.
Not just for the ridiculous amount of money that I’d spent on them, but I remembered how much I used to rely on those books for the answers.
All of those long days and painful nights as a new mum, absolutely desperate for answers as to where I was going wrong.
What should we be doing better?
What my baby should be doing?
How many hours they should be sleeping?
What they should be having?
Why my baby wasn’t sleeping?
Was my baby broken?
Why was I feeling so broken?
Each book, filled with every stage, milestone, problem, worry, fear, routine or expectation, all bound together in a language that was so matter-a-fact and that never reassured you like you’d hope it would do. Yet usually only raised further concern or anxiety in your already fragile state.
I’m not knocking these books, which are in no doubt hugely popular with new parents, heck I purchased them. But it’s taken me nearly four years to realise that they didn’t help me, which is ironic for something that can be found under the self-help category.
If Only I Knew That I Was Doing Everything Right
I felt really quite sad new mum me.
If only she knew then that she was doing everything just right. That there really wouldn’t be any answers hidden within those know it all chapters.
We’ve made some mistakes along the way I’m sure, mostly in the sleep routine department, but I’ll refrain from harping on about that for a moment. But in hindsight would I change anything? Probably not. I would still be the same new mother, each time around, with a new baby with an individual personality and needs and every single time I would have still made the same choices and calls as to how to care for my baby.
Although I did have some help along the way.
You Are Doing An Amazing Job
The best advice and reassurance I ever received during new baby days came from a Whatsapp message from my friends.
The ones who totally knew what I was going through. They didn’t have the answers either, but they had advice. Good advice. Which always arrived alongside a reminder that I was doing an amazing job. The books I relied on so much never told me that I was doing an amazing job.
I will forever be grateful to my amazing friends who I would message at all hours of the day and night. However small or worrying the question, they would all reply with their advice or experience which would always reassure me. I would sometimes cry with relief that I wasn’t going mad and that they too had experienced something similar. A simple thank you never quite summed up how momentous their words and encouragement meant to me during those days. It made me wonder, hope, that other women are as lucky as I am with their support unit. That they don’t just have to rely on some dreary, impersonal, books for reassurance.
Find Your Support Group
The prospect of becoming a parent is a scary one and the reality of it is even more mind-blowing. It’s a crazy, unpredictable journey and yet the one consistent part of that journey has been my amazing girlfriends.
I never took them for granted, but it hadn’t dawned on me until yesterday that ensuring you’ve got a good support group around you is just as important as making sure you’ve stocked up on maternity pads and chocolate biscuits for post labour.
If you’re not surrounded by family and friends to call on or if your circle of buds haven’t yet joined the sleep is for wimps club, then definitely spend some time making sure you’ve got some support in place before baby arrives.
Join NCT classes or local parenting Facebook Groups. Read books written by other mothers who will tell you honestly that it’s all just a bit shite with some blooming lovely moments thrown into it for good measure. Books like; How To Grow A Baby, Why Mummy Drinks, Hurrah For Gin, Happy Mum, Happy Baby, and Parenting The Shit out of Life, are all ones that I’ve read, loved, laughed along to and that made me feel like everything I did was right.
Join Mush, a social networking app solely for mums and follow other parenting bloggers who share a good representation of what life is like with small humans. Never be afraid to reach out and ask for help. You don’t get any awards for trying to do it all alone, but you are rewarded when you feel supported.
As for my stash of parenting advice books, they were in the bag for the charity shop. Although now I perhaps think that they might be better off in the recycling bin?