pregnancy

‘I was the first of my friends to have children, and here’s what I learned.’

Dymadon®
Thanks to our brand partner, Dymadon®

I was 25 years old when my first son was born. By all accounts I was wildly ill-prepared. Being the first of my friendship group to have children I had basically no insight into what life was really going to be like once my little man was earth side. But it’s incredible how much I thought I knew. I was pretty much an expert on parenting, before I had even parented anyone.

Having spent a great deal of time with my head in books, I believed my psychology degree gave me a greater insight into raising kids than the average Joe. Past-tense me really was an idiot, because let me tell you, no amount of books and exams can prepare you for real-life motherhood.

Unless there were some really good drugs handed out at the birth, I don’t seem to remember them giving me a manual on baby-wrangling and it’s safe to say, those first few months were hard. Really hard.

I wouldn’t have believed it back then but five years later and I’m here expecting baby number four in only a few months time. I’m by no means an expert, in fact in many ways I spend each day evaluating the ways I’ve failed my kids, but I have learnt a few things along the way.

I had no idea what I was in for. Image: iStock.

1. You really can survive on minimal sleep.

I think early motherhood is nature’s way of testing you - how much sleep can a person really survive on before they just fall in a heap in the corner? Before kids, I had no idea how tired you could actually be. I mean, I’d been tired before but not like this. I had no idea that there were other humans turning up to work, going about their daily business with only 2-3 hours of sleep under their belt. Sometimes that's the norm. But you don’t fall in a heap. Somehow you keep going. You find a little more energy to get through the day and as soon as that child is quiet at night, you fall asleep with dinner on your lap watching some documentary about someone you’ve never heard of on TV.

2. Just when you think you’ve worked them out, they change.

One of the major things that has changed in my parenting over the years is my concern about their phases. I spent hours and hours reading parenting books about sleep patterns, bottle rejection, weaning, fussy eating. You name it, I’ve read someone else's opinion on it. I’ve read so many internet forums I could basically name contributors on each and every popular baby site worldwide.

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Like so many other mothers I put so much worry into why my baby was behaving the way they were and set about to find out a solution - all of these issues that I never knew about before I had babies.

My first son woke up every two hours until he was 14 months old. I wish I was exaggerating. I was a zombie and I needed an answer but no matter what I did, he kept waking. Until one day, he didn’t. He just slept right through (with me entering the room countless times to check on him). I realised that no matter what I do, babies will usually sort themselves out and so when my other two kids were having a bad trot, I tried to remember that it too will pass.

Don't worry, their sleeping pattern changes! Image: iStock.

One of my favourite parenting mantras is "it’s all a phase". And it is. Prior to kids you might think there is an easy fix to whatever kids throw your way but it’s not always the case. They all get there eventually, so don’t waste too much energy trying to find the solution. Remember, there is no one size-fits-all manual.

3. You’ll drop your standards.

If you like a pristine house, gourmet dinners and on-time arrivals, I’d suggest you walk right past the "parenting" stand at the next life expo because it's not for you.

Most days your house will be a bomb. No matter how small a task you think you need to achieve, the little people will work against you and it will sit, waiting to be done for another day. And that’s OK because often we overlook what it is that you did achieve that day. You kept another human alive, fed and happy and that’s enough - it’s more than enough.

Parenting has a great way of showing you what’s important and flexibility will become your new name - it just has to be because babies don’t care about your plans. Those exciting dinner plans you’ve looked forward to for weeks, you’ll just need to accept that they may get cancelled if your child is sick or the babysitter doesn’t show and that’s just how it is.

Your once pristine work uniform may show signs of avocado toast cuddles from the morning and that too is just fine (tip: baby wipes get everything out. Buy a pack for the baby’s bum and a pack for yourself).

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4. Multi tasking.

I was never an organised person. It just wasn’t in my make up. But then I had children and somehow I was blessed with this incredible ability to do many things at one time.

I've mastered the art of multitasking. Image: iStock.

Case in point; right now I’m writing this at my dining table. I have two cakes and 24 cupcakes baking in the oven behind me because it’s my middle son's birthday on the weekend. I’m vaguely listening to him telling me about Spiderman’s web-slinging powers as he plays on the table next to me. I’m ignoring the hundred pieces of LEGO blocks ending up on the floor - making a mental note to pick them up so I don’t step on them in the night. On my phone I have the hold music of the phone company playing so I can sort out an error on my bill. The baby is asleep on my lap and I know I’ve got exactly one hour and 10 minutes before I need to pick up my other child from school to take him to swimming lessons. His towel and gear is in the dryer next door, ready to go, and once we get home I’ll run the dinner/bath/bed gauntlet before running to the shops for a b'day gift.

Have you ever heard the saying “If you want something done, ask a busy person?” My mother-in-law used to say it all the time and I never really understood what I meant until there were children in the house. Motherhood is exactly that, a constant juggle of tasks and chores but mingled in with that is the love and devotion making you realise you wouldn’t change it for the world.

5. It’s an emotional roller coaster.

Parenting is the most emotional ride you’ve ever been on. One day you’re overcome by anger and frustration, you’re ready to hand in your resignation and walk away (sorry, can’t do that) and within the space of minutes you can be beaming with pride and adoration.

There’s never a day you don’t worry about something. Right up until they’re adults, it’s like having a piece of your heart walking around in the world.

What is your number one tip for any new mum?

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Dymadon®

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