If you’re a parent, by the time your baby turned ten weeks old you most likely, at some point, sat and thought to yourself “well why the heck didn’t anyone say anything about this BEFORE the baby got here?!” at least once, right? And you come to realise at some point, that no matter how prepared you thought you were, no matter how many books you read, how many classes you attended, nothing really prepared you for the mammoth task that was and is parenthood.
So, for all you newbies out there; here’s my top 10 things I didn’t know before I became a mum, that in a few months time you’ll be thankful you now know . And for everyone else, here’s a bit of a giggle, because honestly, I really should have guessed.
- It’s okay to get poop on things
No matter how great you think you’ll be, there will be at least one sh*tty nappy change (pun intended). Whether it’s that first tarry black post apocalyptic looking poop, or the runny after-immunisations sludgy yellow slop. It’ll happen. It’ll get on your carpet, it’ll get in your hair, it’ll get on bubs face too! And it’s TOTALLY OKAY. Because unlike those embarrassing posts you made on facebook when you were 13 that are now stuck on the internet forever to haunt your present self, it’ll come off with the quick swipe of a nappy wipe.
2. Getting poop on yourself without realising until you’re in public is also okay
It’s honestly inevitable. If the poop can get on the carpet and the walls then yep, it’ll get on you too. And at least once you won’t see it until it’s too late, and everyone in k-mart will know you spend your hours wiping someone else’s bum. And it’s fine because you don’t know those people and they don’t know you. And if you do know them then just pretend its mustard, trust me, same colour, they won’t even know. And if they do know they won’t say anything because they feel sorry for you, you’re a sleep deprived mess.
3. You will forget your new child’s name
Let’s be real, unless you’ve been set on one name your entire pregnancy, you probably spent many hours deciding which name would be best for your unborn little cutie. You’ll see and contemplate a LOT of names. And in the midst of being sleep deprived and a little all over the place you may have to think once or twice in those early hours of the morning if Violet really was the name you picked or if you dreamed it up and literally have forgotten their real name entirely. Trust me, it’ll only be momentary but it’ll happen. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just don’t do it when you’re registering them for their birth certificate yeah?
4. Keeping track of nighttime feeds is never a good idea
Remember the days when child-less you would wake up before your alarm, look at the clock at 2am and smile because you still had another 4-5 hours left to stay in your pillow kingdom of warmth. Well looking at the clock at 2am when you’re feeding, changing nappies and sometimes also sheets (because accidents happen) will not make you relieved nor anywhere near somewhat happy. You’ll be sad. Tired and sad because god only knows when this child will let you rest again, and for how long. Don’t look at the clock, stay blissfully unaware. In fact, pretend it’s 5pm, put a movie on, have a cup of tea. Time is utterly irrelevant. Trust me, you’ll be happier for it.
5. Babies smell fear
You finally put bub down for a sleep after a few solid minutes (maybe even hours) of screaming. You’re relieved, but also scared they’ll wake up again as soon as you walk away. THEY WILL. THEY KNOW. THE MINUTE YOU THINK IT THEY WILL WAKE UP. confidence is seriously everything. Believe in your bub, she’ll stay asleep, she’s awesome at this, just look at her. Same goes for non parents who are scared to hold baby because he’ll cry. He knows, even you just thinking it gives him the advantage. fake it till you make it I say, even false confidence is better than none at all.
6. Breastfeeding is just as full time as pregnancy when it comes to what you can eat
Oblivious little me “I can’t wait to have this baby so I can have a glass of wine/soft cheese/salami”. REMEMBER, if bub will be affected by it, and they’re drinking the milk that you make. You can’t have it. It’s obvious, but I really wish someone had reminded me of this before I got all excited about the fact that the end of pregnancy was near and that my freedom of eating and drinking whatever I wanted was near. It wasn’t and still isn’t. I’m not complaining, breastfeeding is incredible. Wine though…
7. People aren’t joking about parenthood being isolating
Seriously. You’ll think we’re over exaggerating about the isolation of parenthood, but it’s real. And it’s there. And it’s probably one of the biggest contributing factors to the baby blues other than the feeling of being overwhelmed by the sudden and new duty of caring for a tiny human being. But it’s totally normal to feel that way, for younger parents and older ones. You’re transitioning into a new lifestyle, especially with your first child. Your friends want to give you space to settle, you may not know many other people with babies, or you may know hundreds. But those first few weeks can feel lonely and asking for help, or even just some company is 100% okay, and in no way a sign of weakness.
8. Realising that no parent is an expert, and every baby is different is a must
This includes realising that not all advice is good advice, and not all good advice is advice you have to take. Every baby adjusts to the world differently, reaches milestones at different times, and reacts to different parenting methods totally differently. If Belinda Opinionista from down the road says you have to rock your baby to sleep every sleep time until 4 months because she did and now her kids sleep perfectly, but that doesn’t suit you or your baby, don’t do it. Just because it worked for someone else, or studies say it should work doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. And you should NEVER feel guilty for not doing something if it doesn’t work for you and your baby.
9. It’s okay to walk away for 5 minutes
When the screaming has been non stop and you can’t seem to solve or soothe them it is 100% okay to put baby in a safe place, like their cot, close the door and walk somewhere where you can’t hear them for five minutes. In fact, I honestly think you’ll go mad if you don’t. I thought you couldn’t, I would rock her and bounce her and hold her while my ears would ring from the endless screaming until I felt like I could break down crying because I didn’t know what I could do to help her. I eventually worked out that walking away, just for those five minutes and recollecting myself was the very best thing I could do for her. You come back with a fresh head and a calm demeanour that your baby will be able to pick up on and in turn will help calm them down.
10. Getting to know your baby takes time
The biggest thing of all. You’re new to being a parent. Your baby is new to being a baby. Everything is a little all over the place for the first few weeks. In the beginning it’s all extremely instinctive, feed, sleep, feed, sleep. You might feel a little overwhelmed, maybe even a little used considering you pour all your hours into feeding and tending to this little humans every need to get nothing much back for a while. But when those smiles start coming, and the personality starts to show that’s when it will all feel worth it. as time goes on you never think you can love your baby more than you do right at that very moment. But every single day that child will prove you wrong by filling your heart with even more love than you ever thought possible.
Above all else, take a deep breath and remember that this gorgeous little human is entirely your own, and you get to love them for the rest of your life and beyond.