10 things the parenting books won’t tell you about being a new mum.

Dear Jessie Stephens,

As a long-time Outlouder, I cried when you announced your word of the year as 'family' and your pregnancy on the first Mamamia Out Loud podcast for 2023. Yes, even though I’d seen your Instagram post and endless messages of congratulations on Facebook. 

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Video via Mamamia.

As a mum of four, I want you to be more prepared for parenting than I ever was with honest, BS-free parenting advice.

Advice that you won’t find in books about Conscious Parenting, Positive Parenting, or Contented Babies. Advice from years of experience in parenting fails so that you can learn from my mistakes.

#1: Put down the parenting books.

I do not want to alarm you, but it turns out that there is a relationship between the number of parenting books we read and our mental health. And the relationship is an inverse one. The more parenting books we read, the more depressed we are. 

Put the books down and phone a friend.

#2: Fresh air.

Remember your Mamamia Out Loud Friday recommendations? You would make profound recommendations like 'get fresh air' and 'drink water'.

As a new mum with a screaming baby, getting outside into the fresh air is a game changer.


A screaming baby all day long is tiresome. And loud. Outside, the noise of the streets and suburbs dampens the screaming, and (fingers crossed) the movement might put them to sleep. If nothing else, the looks of understanding from other mums will make you feel like you aren’t alone in this world.

#3: It’s not personal.

When my babies used to cry endlessly or refuse to sleep all night, I’d scream at my husband, 'What am I doing wrong!' It was hard not to feel like a failure.

I wasn’t doing anything wrong; the baby was just a baby. 'It’s not me, it’s him,' became my mantra.

Don’t worry; they have plenty of time to mess with your head when they are toddlers and teens.

#4: The labour is the beginning, not the end.

When I was pregnant with my eldest son, I could tell you if he was the size of a bean or a carrot. I knew what to eat and what to avoid. I took calm birthing classes and pregnancy meditation.

I didn’t realise that pregnancy and labour were the easy bits (even if they weren’t so easy); the tricky bit was knowing what to do when he was born.

Which I did not.

#5: Babies don’t remember.

The good thing about being a new mum is that no one remembers being a baby. If the baby rolls off the change mat or dive bombs off the sofa, you will remember (trust me), but they won’t. 

#6: Get in the photo.

I have thousands of photos of my kids with my husband, family and friends when they were babies. 

As the photographer wanting to ensure I captured the moment, I look back and struggle to find many photos that include me.

Take selfies, give someone else your phone and get in the photo (no matter how crap or tired you feel).


Image: Supplied.

#7: Your happiness is not based on achievement.

Happiness for new mums doesn’t have anything to do with what you achieve in a day - how many loads of washing, what you cooked for dinner, or when your baby first slept through the night. 

#8: Baby activities are for you, not the baby.

There is an endless supply of baby activities for you to join. 

They are great. They fill time in the day you’d otherwise be bored at home. 

But make no mistake. From baby yoga to baby massage to baby music, these classes are simply a way for you to fill your day. They aren’t making your baby happier, more intelligent, or more well-rounded.


#9: There are no medals for doing it all yourself.

You will undoubtedly have people queueing to cuddle the baby and wanting to help. Let them. 

When someone offers to drop off dinner, say yes (and tell them what you like).

When someone suggests watching the baby for you, say yes (and rest or go for a walk on your own).

When someone asks to help, say yes (and point them to the laundry).

Being a new mum is exhausting, but it doesn’t need to be a solo sport.

#10: Find your tribe.

One of the best things about becoming a new mum is meeting other new mums. 

Honestly, hear me out. 

Your friends and family will become bored of you wanting to discuss how much the baby slept, the colour of poo, and the best brand of rash cream. 

Your mum tribe, with babies the same age, will never tire of these conversations. You can rely on them to break up your days and respond to messages at 3am when the babies (and you) are awake.

Image: Supplied.


Bonus advice about advice: Take what you like and ignore the rest

I’m leaving this to last because, quite frankly, I’m a hypocrite. 

As you will have already discovered, you will be inundated with advice from everyone about everything when it comes to pregnancy, giving birth, and being a mum.

The best advice I can give you is to cherry-pick the advice that sounds like it might work for you and try it. 

And to the rest, say thanks but no thanks.

Jessie, becoming a new parent is quite an adventure. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride. 

And if you need some advice, you know where to find me.

Angela Eves is a mum to four crazy humans and two even crazier golden retrievers. Requires coffee to function. Believes everything is better when coloured, from hair to walls, and anything in between.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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