A letter to a first time parent: It’s ok…

A letter to a first-time parent: It’s ok…

You are a parent now, congratulations! There is a wonderful new addition to your family. This can seem overwhelming at times, but I am here to tell you that it is a perfectly normal part of caring for a newborn child and beyond. Boy oh boy have I learned some things over the years. If I had realised what I realised now, having brought up my second child, I would have done things so differently!
Here are some tips from a soon to be 3rd time mum to help you through the tough times:

It’s ok… sleep is coming

Sooner than you think, you will get a good night’s sleep. It might not feel like it now – especially when you are up at 4am changing a nappy for the third time that night. In time your baby will sleep longer and longer hours, and wake up less. Then one morning out of the blue you will wake up having slept through the whole night! Hang in there, and try not to overthink things by taking one day at a time.

It’s ok… moodswings are normal

Lack of sleep can easily lead to grumpy moods in the day – whether you’re a parent or not. This is OK, this is normal. Don’t feel like you have to be joyous all the time now that you are a parent. Enjoy the good times when you can, and do your best to work through the not so good times. Helen Hill admits…

I wish I knew how much hormones would continue to play havoc with my body long after the birth. I found the hormonal surges when baby weaned onto solids and breastfed less, and again the massive changes when we stopped feeding all together really rough. I went from being ‘normal’ to an emotionally unstable wreck again for several weeks while I waited for my body to adjust.

It’s ok… you will get your social life back

A lack of social life can be frustrating – especially when your non parent friends just can’t relate to your struggles. Just put your social life to the side for now, and when your baby is more settled in a few months your social life will return, and you may feel a little more able to enjoy the things you used to before you became a parent.

It’s ok to ask for help

Some parents feel that they are failing if they ask for help. Don’t! There is no shame in it whatsoever. Parenting is a natural instinct, but no one knows everything right away. Family and friends are a great source of knowledge in this regard, and self-care is so important in these early months. Don’t feel like you’re not a great parent if you ask someone to watch your baby so you can have a bath in peace, or get someone to help you clean your house or throw on a load of washing.

It’s ok to take some time off

Grandparents and family members love to babysit, and taking time off for yourself and your relationship is very important. Whether it’s a couple of nights away, or just a pub lunch, it can be hard to leave your child and take a break. Rest assured they will be in good hands with their loving grandparents, and your baby will be making bonds with their precious family, which is very important in those early months.

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It’s ok… try to take one day at a time

Take it one nappy at a time, one tantrum at a time and one tough day at a time. Relax, you are doing a great job. You will make it through!

It’s ok to have a little bit of what you fancy

Everyone says prepare food in advance, and put it in the freezer for those times you have no time to cook. Whilst this is still one of the best pieces of advice you can listen to, you might not always want a lasagne in the middle of the night when you’ve been up for 20 hours trying to settle a colicky baby. Think about filling your cupboards with healthy snacks like nakd bars, fruit, oat cakes… ok then, chocolate! Things that provide you with the sustainable energy you are going to need when the going gets tough are really great, but treats you can look forward to are also good for your soul!

Food prep… I wish I had planned better. Everyone told me to prepare meals because I wouldn’t have time to cook in the early days but I didn’t want meals once he arrived, I wanted snacks and I should have planned those better. Perhaps then I wouldn’t have been snacking on every carb loaded sweet loveliness I could lay my hands on at 3am when I tried not to fall asleep on my baby while he breastfed!

It’s ok… make the most if it

Time passes quicker than you think, and before your know it your child will be grown up. Everyone will be saying to you,  “make the most of this precious time”, which will probably make you want to slap them when you’re knee deep in vomit, or scraping playdoh off the carpet. Trust me, you will look back on it fondly and appreciate even the tough parts. You may even miss those moments 😉

It’s ok to trust your instincts

A book will tell you to do something one way, but a friend will say do the opposite. This is inevitable, since every human has different wants and needs. Do what you feel is right for your baby without feeling pressured to do things a certain way.

Indi has severe allergies to cows milk protein, soya and beef, and I knew this from about 6 weeks into breastfeeding a rash-covered, projectile vomitting and sh&tting baby. Before I figured it out, I would frequently say to visitors “oh, you might want this muslin to cover your clothes, as Indi is a very sicky baby”. I went to the health visitors a number of times, and was unfortunately fobbed off with “It’s ok, that’s very normal for a breastfed baby…” Nope. 3 confirmed allergies later, and over a year of being free from CMP, soya and beef, she’s the happiest, healthiest baby. I listened to my instincts. Had I not, this would have been a very different story.

It’s ok… there are no perfect children… or parents

There is no perfect way, and no perfect parent. Don’t bother striving for perfection or expecting too much from your child. Enjoy the imperfections, and laugh at the moments that appear to go wrong. This is part of the fun of raising children.

I used to agonise over why Fin wouldn’t sit still like other children when he was younger. I used to compare him to all his similar aged friends, and long for him to be a little less active. I quickly realised I was fighting against something that was a natural trait of his, and instead of trying to reverse this behaviour, channelled his energy into gymnastics. 4.5 years later, he’s doing really well at it, and has a great passion and understanding of the importance of health, nutrition and fitness at the age of 5, as well as spending time with some great role models.

It’s ok… nappies are gross

Nappies can be gross. Oh well, there’s no way of avoiding them. Thankfully this phase will pass as well. Share the changing duties and before you know it nappies will be a far distant memory.

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It’s ok to find it hard living for the present moment

Through all the chaos and the sleeplessness, don’t forget to take the time to appreciate what you are doing – you rock! It’s so normal to want to lock yourself in a cupboard when your baby is crying, or run out of the house screaming when you have to listen to your mother in law tell you how to be a parent. Try not to take this precious time for granted, and remember that you have created a little miracle who will bring you so much joy over the years.

A letter to a first time parent: It’s ok…

It’s ok to feel like an imposter

From time to time, you may find yourself thinking that you don’t know what you are doing, especially if you’re going through a tough patch of teething pain, or illness. This is normal. All parents feel this at some point. Do your best, love your child as much as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

It’s ok to worry about their health

Of course, we should try not to overly worry about our newborns health, but never feel ashamed or embarrassed about taking them to the doctor for anything. They won’t judge you for being protective, and so what if they do? This is your baby and you should care for them how you want to care for them.

A few people have been suprised in the past to learn that I have never used nappy cream on my two children. I never had any nappy rash issues with Fin, and the only time we have issues with Indi is when she is having an allergic reaction. It is just my choice not to use it religiously. My routine has always been an occasional massage with a natural oil after a bath, and if the kids are suffering with a cold or cough, some soothing Vicks BabyRub on their chests does the trick… I found that you really don’t need all the things that ‘they’ say you need.

It’s ok to remember the good old days

In your pre-parenting days you probably had so much extra time and spare money. It is ok to reminisce about those times, so don’t feel guilty about it. We’ve all done it, it is natural. Keep in mind that life is just getting better. It may not feel like it right now, but it gets more rewarding and fulfilling with every day, and you will slowly gain more ‘you time’ as your child grows older.

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It’s ok to feel like you’re losing it

Even when I think back to having Fin 5 years ago, it fills my eyes with tears now. I really struggled. I had a lot of overwhelming family stuff going on when I gave birth to Fin (my first baby – now I’m pregnant with my 3rd child) and I kept it all bottled up. I tried to be the one that kept it all together for everyone else’s sake. I thought if I fall apart, then bad things will happen to the people I was trying to support. I felt like an awful parent, that I was doing a crappy job, and I was soooo anxious all the time.

I stupidly didn’t seek help, and this has unfortunately tainted my memories of when Fin was tiny. I did, however start to feel better about 5 months in of suffering with depression, and something just clicked inside of my head and started to offer me a bit of a break from myself.  If you’re feeling even the slightest thought that you are not yourself, I would say just visit your GP or talk to someone about it. Don’t bottle it up. It’s ok to feel like you’re losing it sometimes, we all have those moments where we think our brains will melt, but self-care goes a long long way when it comes to mental health. Be kind to yourself.

It’s ok.. YOU are the parent

Take all advice with a pinch of salt, and do what feels natural and right to you. Unsolicited advice is the absolute worst, even if it’s being said by a well-meaning friend or family member. Say “thank you for your advice”, and move on. You are the parent, so follow your intuition and your heart. With love and care, you will raise your newborn into the most wonderful person you will ever meet.

It’s ok… you got this!

Raising a newborn is bloody hard. Raising a toddler is bloody hard. Raising a preschooler is hard. Raising a schooler is hard. Raising pre-teens is hard. Raising teens is hard… You get the idea. It’s ok to find raising a child hard. Try to remember that everything is temporary. Your baby won’t sleep? Your toddler won’t eat vegetables? Your preschooler hits? Your child gets a detention at school? I’ve been through all of that and come out of the other side because it was all just a phase. Just do what you think it best, seek the help you need, and sit tight, it’ll all blow over with the right support and lots of love.

A letter to a first time parent: It’s ok…

This post is an entry for BritMums #VicksBabyRub Challenge, sponsored by Vicks BabyRub. Specially designed for babies aged 6 months and over, Vicks BabyRub is available at Boots, Superdrug, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and all good pharmacy chains. RRP £3.99.

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A letter to a first-time parent_ It’s ok…

One Comment

  1. So amazing how much we learn as mums and thanks for sharing . Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part

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