I became a mum to an adorable little boy (or demon, depending on the day) on 31st March 2018. It simultaneously feels like I’ve been a parent for five minutes and 85 years. This is a feeling I’m pretty sure a lot of mums out there will be familiar with. One day can feel like an eternity when your toddler is in a grump and taking offence at everything from the temperature of the room to the way the cat is looking at them. But at the same time, you regularly catch yourself looking at your child thinking: Stop it. Stop growing up so quickly. You were a newborn two seconds ago, you’re not allowed to be a real human yet.
Sometimes I can’t believe I’m a mum — in charge of this little person, making sure they grow up well and make good decisions. Me. The person who thinks cereal is a sensible dinner option and who classes the weekly food trip to Tesco to be a full-body workout.
Yes, I’ve got a long way to go before I become the mum who is somehow able to have a full-time career while also preparing well-balanced meals every single night. The mum who remembers to get dressed and brush her hair every morning and who doesn’t have to stifle a laugh when she overhears toddlers saying or doing inappropriate things.
Parenting is definitely a learning curve. As much as we love them, newborns can be stressful. We’re all just doing the best we can. We can read all the parenting books in the world, but it won’t necessarily prepare us for the reality of being a mum or a dad.
The other day, I found a list of things I’ve learned since becoming a mum, written about four months after my son was born. Since then, my baby has become a toddler and I’ve learned quite a bit more and made more than a few mistakes. But it’s great to look back at the early days, when I was shell-shocked and bewildered that someone let me leave the hospital with this tiny little creature.
1. Baby Brain Fog is Real
Your brain will probably be foggy for the first few weeks of your baby’s life. You’ll probably remember your name and the name of your baby. But that’s probably it. You’ll forget what day it is, the location of any of your possessions or what you were just about to do when you entered the room. I actually looked this up and it’s definitely not just me. Some even know it as the ‘100 days of baby fog‘.
2. The Term ‘Mum’ Might Not Fit You Yet
If you’re a first-time mum, the word ‘mum’ will almost seem a little ill-fitting. Mums are sensible and they know what they’re doing. I don’t know about you — but I was definitely winging it.
3. You’ll Compromise — and That’s Okay
To make your baby happy or just to encourage them to sleep more, you will probably go back on a million things you swore you’d never do as a parent — give them a dummy, buy ridiculous sleeping aids, indulge in a range of unnecessary baby items. In time, none of it will matter or have any lasting impact on your baby.
4. Baby Sleep is a Mystery
Though newborns may sleep nineteen hours a day, they somehow also seemingly never sleep, so neither will you.
Related: 6 Popular Sleep Training Methods (and What Worked For Us)
5. You’ll Become a High-Functioning Zombie
You weirdly get used to less than three hours’ sleep a night. You’re not happy about it, but you get used to it.
6. You’ll Worry Your Baby Will Never Sleep Through
You want to kill anyone who asks you whether your baby is sleeping through the night yet. No. No they’re not. You’ll know when they are, because I’ll throw a parade.
7. You Never Have Enough Time for Literally Anything
I once assumed I’d have lots of spare time after the baby was born, given newborns sleep nineteen hours a day. This is false. When I was a mum to a newborn, I think I wore the same pair of legging for three days in a row. I only changed them because he vomited on them.
8. You Can Do Everything and Anything One-Handed
You will learn how to do most things one-handed — including cooking, eating and peeing.
9. Babies Sense Your Food
Little bugger somehow knows exactly when your dinner is ready. Said bugger will then insist on you serving him first. Warm food becomes a myth.
10. You’ll Drop Things on Your Baby’s Head — We’ve All Been There
You will drop food, and perhaps even your phone, on your baby. It happens to everyone.
11. Modesty Takes a Backseat to Your Baby
You may have once been a modest little rose and lived in high-necked tops. Once you start breastfeeding, you will not actually care who sees you boob, you just get desperate to feed your little monster.
12. Everything Will Smell of Vomit for a While
You will forever smell of baby vom, and no amount of perfume will cure this. Enjoy your five minutes of post-shower freshness. It doesn’t last
13. Baby Poop Genuinely isn’t That Bad
Your baby’s poop genuinely isn’t as disgusting as other baby poop. You will even use your finger to check if your baby has pooped and it’s not that gross.
14. When Your Baby Finally Sleeps, You’ll Poke Them
You will spend most of your day wanting your baby to stop crying. Then once they sleep, you will poke them every half hour to make sure they’re still breathing, which will irritate them and wake them up
15. You’ll Get Sick of Hearing the Same Things
You will get fed up of people telling you how fast it goes, and how you should treasure every moment while you can. It’s annoying. But it’s true. It goes by ridiculously fast.
There’s a lot left to learn, to enjoy and dread as Charlie grows up. Now that Charlie is two (and I’ve just about emerged from the newborn fog), I’ve entered a the exciting new world of toddlerdom, which brings with it its own set of lessons. But that’s a chat for another day.
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