We’ve all heard of ‘baby brain’, right? Some say it’s a myth, most mums I know are certain that it’s real. But, I’m convinced that something bigger happens when you pop out your first baby, and it’s not just becoming forgetful. Becoming a mother changes you fundamentally, as a person. There’s no avoiding it. Where once you were an outgoing, confident people-person, you may now find yourself hiding away at home, fearful in case you’re discovered and revealed as a fraud; I mean, how on earth have you been trusted to be in charge of this little person?!
One problem with becoming a mum is that it’s bloody lonely. All those mother and baby groups and classes you googled while on maternity leave? Nah. You’ll be lucky if you make it out of the house on time more than twice a week. There’s just so much effort that goes into an outing; packing the changing bag; getting baba dressed, then changing his nappy as he has a poosplosion straight after; then getting yourself showered, dressed in clothes that aren’t covered in snot/sick/mush and doing something with your hair; then you have to change the baby again as he’s vommed milk down his front and you forgot to put the bib on; then you have to hunt for your purse and keys and, just as you’re ready, the baby needs a feed… You get the picture.
And it doesn’t get any easier as they get older. Growing children bring a whole fresh set of problems. Fussy eating, potty training, starting nursery/school, making friends, behaviour… Being a mum is enough to send you round the bend! I’ve been a mum to my own two for over 10 years now and I’ve learnt a few lessons over that time – some the hard way, so, here’s my advice to you on how to save yourself from mummy madness!
Never Google! Whilst Google is probably the best invention ever after chocolate, it is not your friend! Especially not in the dead of night, when you’re awake feeding the baby and trying to find out why it is he screams when he poos. It’s so tempting to turn to the internet when we’re concerned about something, and, in many cases, it’s fine and we get a simple answer and feel relieved. But, there are the times we end up convincing ourselves that there’s something hideously, unthinkably wrong and rational thought goes out of the window. Googling will induce mummy madness.
Trust your gut. This is a lesson I’ve learnt the hard way. I don’t like to make a fuss, and I’m always second-guessing myself. I don’t like to think I’ve inconvenienced people or put them out, so I tend to keep quiet, when really I should have spoken up. An example of this is when Big was scalded by a cup of freshly-made tea when he was two. Although I rang NHS Direct (as it was) and asked advice, the advice I was given was wrong. Instead of taking him to get it looked at, (which I thought I probably should), I took them at their word when they said it was a small enough area to be fine. It wasn’t. It got infected. Why did I even trust the word of someone on the end of a phone who couldn’t even see it? Now I’m more experienced, I go with my gut feeling. If it feels wrong, it probably is and it won’t hurt to check it out, even if it turns out ok.
Get outside. Seriously, get some fresh air and daylight every day. It’s so easy to hide away indoors, especially in winter, but going out for even a short walk around the block will make a world of difference to you and your little one. It’s exercise and vitamin D too!
Use all the help! If someone offers to help you, what do you say? Take a tip from me; say ‘yes please!’ It’s easy to think that you’re coping and that you can do it all. And, some people do. But, in all honesty, wouldn’t it be easier if you let your mother-in-law do that ironing she’s offered to help with? Or to take your sister up on her offer to look after the little one while you catch up on sleep or have a long bath? Don’t be too proud to accept offers of food, babysitting, housework or anything else that comes your way.
Write stuff down. Like I said before, baby brain is real. You suddenly have another human to keep alive; they are totally depending on you for everything. It’s no wonder other stuff falls out of your brain! Write stuff down. It really helps! Appointments, dates, shopping lists, meals, anything and everything. You’ll thank yourself later.
Use Pinterest for ideas, but don’t expect your efforts to turn out like the pictures! Pinterest is brilliant for ideas, but do you have any clue as to how long it took to stage the photo of that rainbow unicorn birthday cake? I do, because I do it! Unless you have a lot of spare time on your hands (er, hello? You’re a mum!), don’t aim for Pinterest Perfection, but be pleased you managed to even find the time to pin anything, let alone make the thing!
Take a class. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try, but never had the time or motivation? Maybe now you’re a mum, taking a class to learn a new skill could be a perfect way to grab a bit of time to yourself and keep those brain cells firing! Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn Italian, write a novel or learn how to belly dance? Sort out child care, sign yourself up and go for it!
Binge on Netflix without guilt. “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” ‘they’ say. “I really should clean the bathroom while the baby sleeps,” you think. Sod it. Sometimes, a girl just needs to Netflix and chill – alone – while the baby sleeps. Grab a cuppa, a packet of jaffa cakes and get stuck in!
Eat well, but allow yourself the odd treat. Such as a packet of jaffa cakes (see above). Well, maybe not in one sitting, but you get my drift. Mumming is hard, and so we need to eat well to make sure we have plenty of energy, stay healthy and fit. But don’t feel guilty if you have the odd treat every now and again – you deserve it!
Drink wine*. Preferably with friends. A regular get together with a mate for a good natter with a bottle (or two) will do you the world of good when mumming is draining you and you need to unwind. Just don’t drink too much wine on your own once the littles are in bed – your head won’t thank you for it at silly o’clock in the morning when one loses her dummy and the other needs a wee. *Of course, if you don’t drink wine, feel free to substitute any other kind of alcohol. Or tea. Tea is the king of drinks!
Talk to people. When you feel as though talking back to Mr. Tumble is the closest you get to adult conversation during the day, you know you need to get out more! Go and visit friends or family, meet up with other mums (you could arrange your own meetups or use a site such as Netmums or Mummysocial, or an app such as Mush). It can be really hard to put yourself out there as a new mum, when your hormones are all over the place, and you don’t know if you’re doing it right, and you’re so tired, and you can’t remember when you last had a shower… But, the potential pay-off is amazing; some women meet at antenatal or post natal groups and become friends for life! And, if you really can’t face real people just yet, chat in online groups. Some of my best friends live in my computer! It can be easier to talk about the tricky stuff with people you don’t have to see face-to-face.
It’s so easy to send yourself round the bend when you become a mum! Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you stay balanced and avoid mummy madness. Do you have any more tips you can share?
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