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I did read the baby books. Honest.
But stumbling through those first years of parenting I felt permanently stuck in motherhood 101.
Every new milestone sent me spiralling into whole new degrees of ineptitude.
How could an apparently intelligent human being get everything so horribly wrong?
Know the feeling?
Well as I look back now … with all the world weary wisdom of the mother of a five year old … I’ve got a sneaky feeling there might have been a few essential tips missing in the baby manual.
So in case you are a mama-to-be with it all to come or you’re struggling through like me here’s a little list … OK a very long one … of all the stuff you really need to know about having kids 🙂
I do hope it helps
And just between you and me, once you know this stuff, it’s actually incredibly easy to really rock motherhood … every now and again …
The Tips All Mothers Need
- Sleep. Whenever you can.
- Sleep. Whenever you can.
- Sleep. Whenever you can.
- DO practice – repeatedly – getting the car seat in and out of the car and strapping a small creature into it. Having a meltdown in the hospital car park because your partner can’t manage this first feat isn’t the best start to your parenting partnership … but believe me you will be in good company.
- You may currently believe your mother to be brilliant. You can not possibly imagine how awesome she is about to become. Grandmas rock!
- Your baby will not be snatched by goblins whilst you take 2 minutes to have a shower. It may on the other hand scream the house down.
- Breastfeeding can be the most beautiful experience ever. But it exists in a different time-space continuum. Stock up on box sets.
- Breastfeeding can be beyond awful. It can get better, much better but do NOT beat yourself up if it doesn’t work for you or your baby.
- 99.9% of babies – in my highly scientific study of all my friends – do not suffer nipple confusion by being given one bottle a day by their dad or grandma so that you get an hour or two’s extra sleep. (See 1 – 3).
- Under no circumstances spend the precious moments when your baby generously shuts its eyes: cleaning; entertaining streams of visitors; obsessively reading baby care books; ordering yet more baby “essentials” online just in case you didn’t order enough before hand; perusing Pinterest; desperately Googling colic, reflux, cradle cap because there really must be an “answer” somewhere mustn’t there? See 1-3 above.
- Any baby guru who claims there is one perfect routine that suits all babies ever born is a) plain daft, b) wrong, c) dangerous & to be treated with a salt cellar full of salt. Adopt a routine that works for you.
- That feeling in the first few months of being absolutely nuts because you are so absolutely nutty? Err … that’s motherhood. Get used to it.
- Babies who learn early to sleep easily in strollers, baby carriers, car seats, on a knee, on a shoulder, on the floor, on a sofa,at the shops, in the arms of total strangers as well as their cot are a good thing. Babies who will only sleep in their own cot with black out curtains not so much.
- Baby carriers are wonderful but unlike those Scandinavian models you see wafting through fields & uber cool cafes in the adverts, most mothers bear an uncanny resemblance to Quasimodo when wearing one.
- Lack of access to a tumble dryer is grounds for divorce!
- There are no such things as white socks – only fifty shades of grey!
- You may want to migrate to a sunshine island where your child will go bare foot and you will escape the purgatory that is sock matching.
- NEVER leave the house without wipes. Lots of them. The one time you get blase, a major-environment-hazard-scale disaster from one or other end of your child will occur. In worst cases both.
- Carry a plastic bag at all times. Carry a spare top at all times. See above.
- Buy mattress protectors for every bed you own. NOW!
- No money on earth can buy anything that gets the smell of sick, wee and worse out of upholstery or your mother-in-law’s best carpet as well as good old bicarb of soda (baking soda to you Americans). Stock up.
- The absolute best cure for cradle cap is a bit of olive oil and a nit comb.
- You will earn precisely threepence ha’penny for all those gorgeously expensive baby clothes you sell on eBay. You will then lose money by under estimating the postage. Life is short, give them away.
- You will spend a small fortune replacing all your pre-pregnancy bras with a size you never previously knew existed.
- On the night immediately following the day you first brag about your baby sleeping through the night, they will regress. Totally. Particularly at 4 months when they will go on a sleep strike.
- The world will NOT come to an end if you start feeding your baby solids before they are 6 months to the very day. If they can sit up well at 5 months and show an interest in your food offer them both hand held chunks and mushed up stuff.
- Lots of babies do blue poos at around 4 or 5 months. (Who knew?)
- NO child eats everything. Any mother who claims their child does, is a pathological fibber. But baby led weaning really does seem to get children to like food you might actually want to eat yourself.
- You can hide large quantities of vegetable in all sorts of food.
- Flying to Mars is hard but not as hard as potty training. Be warned – you may lose all will to live when your child poos on the MIL’s curtains. Again.
- Yes, you want your child to sleep independently in their cot but in the interests of everyone getting a good night’s sleep it’s OK to cuddle up in your bed now and again.
- You may think you have a big bed. You don’t. The first fundamental law of physics is that babies take up space in inverse proportion to their size and will leave you about 2mm space each to sleep in.
- You may think you have a big house. You don’t. The 2nd fundamental law of physics is there can never be any house anywhere in the universe big enough to accommodate all the toys your child will accumulate.
- There are some fab baby toys but your child will get most enjoyment from any cardboard box they can lay their hands on, a wodge of home made play dough and an assortment of random stuff from around the house that you glorify under the name of sensory play.
- You can read real books to babies. Even very tiny tots adore our beloved Julia Donaldson and from New Zealand the fabulous Lynley Dodd of Hairy McLary fame.
- The good news is you will stop having those anxiety dreams about failing to study for your college exams. The bad news is you will start having anxiety dreams about arriving home having left your child in the supermarket.
- Holidays with babies and small children can be wonderful. They should not in anyway be associated with rest. You will need a holiday to recover.
- You are allowed to cry when faced with holiday washing. It will rain the day you get back, but that’s OK ‘cos you have the best dryer money can buy. If not see 15.
- You will on occasions – not infrequent – lock yourself in the bathroom in total despair at your sheer inability to get your child to clean their teeth, wash their face, take their clothes off, put their clothes on etc etc.
- Kids NEVER want to get in the bath. Kids NEVER want to get out of the bath.
- On the rare occasion you get out for a date a deux, make sure your parents understand that their baby sitting services will extend through the night and into the next morning as you will have the worst hangover ever after 2 glasses of weak red.
- I can give you the details of some truly excellent, last minute childcare services – Miss Peppa Pig, a small but incredibly funny little girl called Lola and some curious creatures known as Octonauts come most highly recommended from parents everywhere. Without their assistance meals would not appear on tables and the country would go hungry.
- A small child going slowly can go slower than a snail in a slow snail race in Slowville. You may chew off your arm in frustration whilst waiting for them.
- You will shout “Come on”, “Get a move on”, “We’re late” at least 90 million times a day in an increasingly banshee like shriek whilst chewing off your other arm.
- You can NOT keep up with a 3 year old on a scooter. I don’t care how fit and stunningly beautiful you are, you – like the rest of us – will look like a crazed fool trying.
- You will cry more, laugh more and love more than ever before. It’s wonderful. Enjoy!