When you are pregnant, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, every single woman who has ever had a child (and some who haven’t!) is going to try to pass on their ‘pearls of wisdom’ to you. However unwanted they may be. Everyone wants to share with you the advice they think you need as a new mum, based on their own experience. Often they can go beyond the boundaries of advice, and it can become very opinionated and inconsiderate without realising what they are doing. So, that’s exactly what I’m about to do, give you my honest advice for new mums.
Why do people give you their advice about having babies and raising children?
I get it … NOW. Now that I’m older and wiser, and more experienced. The reason so many women want to give you their advice is simple, really. They’ve gone through this life-changing experience and they want to share their knowledge, learnings and experiences. If you’re the one in front of them in that moment, with child or expecting, you’re going to hear about it.
Why do we Overshare?
Well, I for one, was massively unprepared.
Personally, I was completely and utterly ignorant and terrified. I didn’t know anything! I was oblivious. I was an ostrich burying my head in the sand until I was about 35 weeks and then I realised I needed to actually do stuff, and then the panic set in. Call it what you want, but it did not feel like ‘nesting’ to me, it felt more like stress, hard work and if I think back now, I realise that’s probably when my struggle with anxiety started.
Secondly, you realise that you really Don’t Know what it’s like.
What I don’t talk about often is that I am actually a step-mom too. My step-daughter is a teenager now. In the early days of our relationship, my future husband would often say to me, “You don’t know, you’re not a parent.” To which I would respond angrily and defensively, “Just because I’m not a mom, doesn’t mean I don’t know! I do know!”
But in truth, I didn’t. How wrong I was (mostly). I say ‘mostly’ because there are some fundamentally instinctive issues that are entirely personal and no child or relationship can change that. However, being a ‘step-mum and being a ‘mom’ is different, at least they were for me. A lot of that is because of instinct and awareness.
A while ago, my daughter’s young, newly married, energetic and enthusiastic teacher (no kids yet), stood in front of a classroom of over-tired, exhausted and anxious parents and actually said those words “I know what you’re all going through as parents.”
Ah, no love, you don’t!
With the greatest respect for your role in my child’s life, you really don’t know what it’s like for us. Until you’ve been through it and come out the other side of whatever parenting moment you’re experiencing, you don’t know what the hell you’re actually doing. None of us does, and we’re the ones actually doing it!
Hindsight Is A Wonderful Thing
It got me thinking though if I were to write down my honest advice, to be available for anyone dead scrolling in the middle of the night panicked but exhausted, what would my advice be. So here it is, my advice to new mums who are sick of hearing all the advice from everyone in the world who’s ever been a mother (yes, I get the irony):
Just Hear Them Out
Listen to the advice from strangers with an open mind, it hurts no one to hear it. One day you will have a burning desire to share how you came out of it the other side scathed but alive. All you have to do is hear it, process it and then decide whether to discard it or treasure it. Either way, it takes nothing to be polite and listen to your aunt, cousin, mother’s friend, great-great- granny in-law. Just be polite and figure out what you want to do, and then do that!
And just a head’s up. If you think it’s only nine months of unwanted advice about everything from baby’s names to sleeping patterns, you are sadly mistaken It never ends! No matter what stage of parenting you are at, someone else older, wiser and more experienced, with more kids than you, will ALWAYS have advice for you, whatever the situation!
Fed Is Best!
Do not get hung up on what the books or great aunties have to say about growth spurts: breast is best, baby-led weaning, inverted nipples, the formula makes them constipated, blah blah blah. There will always be someone you’re not pleasing with your decision on how to feed your child. But, that little person you are responsible for is the only one you have to answer to! What do they want? And what can you manage without losing your sanity? Whatever it is, do it!
If you listen to everything everyone tells you, you will drive yourself crazy and your child will be hungry and cry until you literally go insane! If your child is hungry, F.E.E.D I.T! Breast 24 hours a day, or breast with a formula top-up, formula only, cereal 24/7, or mashed up butternut! Whatever it takes! Just feed your child so that it can stop crying and go to sleep so that you can too.
Here we go!
- If your baby falls asleep whilst feeding, so what!?
- If your baby falls asleep on your chest, so what!?
- Co-sleeping – fine! I’m not a fan, but it happened anyway.
- If your baby needs to be pushed around the block in their pushchair 45 times at 9 pm, you push!
- If you have to remortgage your house to fuel up your car to drive 90 miles every time they need a nap, just so your child can sleep … well, you might need to reconsider, but if you can afford it, DO IT!
Whatever it takes, do it! You can deal with the consequences later after you’ve got more than four consecutive hours of sleep. You will actually survive the sleep deprivation, but they need to sleep too.
This is probably the most important piece of advice I have to give you about being a new parent:
Do not buy all the stuff that the adverts and books tell you to, and try to avoid pushchair envy (it’s a real thing).
You don’t need half that stuff. I promise!
- You do not need a bottle steriliser until your child is actually using a bottle!
- You do not need a dummy/pacifier steriliser … boiling water in a coffee mug will do!
- You do not need the highest end of the market bouncy chair because your child will grow out of it in less than 6 months, and then what?
There is also a time and place to buy the stuff you do need. Just wait, give it time. In the first few months of having a baby, all your child really needs is you, food, 14 changes of clothing, nappies, warmth and love!
Reality check: Most first-time mum’s don’t put their newborn down for very long anyway so do you really need the state of the art designer nursery before he/she is born? No, you don’t. You might want it but get a little perspective. Do you need it?
You Can’t Stop Time
No matter how prepared or unprepared you are, that baby comes eventually. You may be only 35 weeks (or earlier), you may be 42 weeks and counting! Whether you have a cot or not, a baby bag or not, a pushchair or not, that baby will still come when they are ready. You will never really be prepared despite your best efforts.
Never, Ever, Say “Never”.
Before I became a mom, I said all the stupid cliche’s, all of them! This is possibly my second most important piece of advice to new mums and parents, never say never!
- “My child will never have a dummy.”
- “My child will never speak to me like that.”
- “I will breastfeed exclusively for the first year.”
I don’t care who you are, what your background is, your circumstances are, and what support structure you might have, most of those
ridiculous declarations you make before you’re a mom will be proved untrue by that precious human you love unconditionally.
Don’t Be Afraid
For those of us who struggle through the dark days, weeks and months of PND, ask for help! By simply asking for help, you are stepping up to be the parent your child needs.
So, my advice to new mums would be “You’ve got this.”
Believe it or not, this is the serious version of this topic on my blog. If you want the light-hearted, slightly sarcastic version check it out here: Skills Required To Parent
This post has also been featured on the Happy New Mum Website where I am also a contributing author. Check it out here.
Until a person becomes a parent, they really have no idea. I remember thinking I understood, but something changes when it actually happens. Great post!
Thank you – x
“You’ve got this”… yes, I like that. :) It’s the best thing actually, to say to new moms. We all eventually find our own way.
We do indeed.
‘Never say never’ – that is the best advice on here! I know what you mean about wanting to share your wisdom too after becoming a parent. I do try to keep my ‘advice’ to myself because I really hate it when other people give me advice that I didn’t ask for! #DreamTeam
My favourite is parenting advice from people who aren’t parents yet! Not! lol
I too struggle with this, even though it annoys me! But if I’m honest most of my advice is the ‘don’t listen to the negative people’ and ‘you got this’ sort so hopefully its ok? ?
haha … that’s all they need to hear I believe. x
That’s really true that one day we will too want to share our journey with others and offer advice, I hadn’t thought about it that way before xx #bigpinklink
Sometimes I think that’s the essence of mommy bloggers. lol
So true! I hated advice, and here I am
With my own blog! Hoping it comes across more like ‘this is my journey and I don’t know what I’m doing’ rather than ‘here take my advice’ ??
haha … so true. I also hated it. Especially with my second. Did people really not think I knew what was coming.
I used to seethe when my mum would tell me “that’s great advice Aleena, but you won’t understand until you have children” Now I get it! And I have written before about the very best piece of advice she ever gave me, when Amelia was just a few days old; it’s exactly as you say – “You’ve got this!” (Only hers had a few more expletives and something about sausages!) http://mummymamamum.com/2017/01/14/mum-stop-wallowing-and-sort-your-shit-out/
I love this post, this is exactly what I would have wanted to hear when I was pregnant. As lovely as everyone’s advice is, you can get so bogged down! I remember we bought a nappy bin, the type that takes bag refills and supposedly deals in the smell forevermore, because a friend told us she couldn’t live without hers. Reality was it was great until we had to empty it, then all the bags unravelled and it stank of stale… you know what!!!!! Great read. X
There are so many of those unnecessary gadgets. It’s such a huge money making scam I think! lol
Oh my, I could wax lyrical about all of the money making scams to two parents!
Great tips. I definitely agree with the “Never say never” because you really have to just go with it once a brand new person is dominating your life!! #BlogCrush
For sure. They will turn your life upside down and inside out.
Some very practical tips… agree with you a hundred per cent. You just got to do what you got to do, be it with eating/ sleeping/ whatever. No two babies are the same, so do what works for YOU!
PS – LOVE your quote on Motherhood:)
Thanks Nicole. x
I agree with all your points. Particularly about the advice. I too would say listen to it and do with it what YOU will, whether it is to heed it or erase it from your memory. I actually try not to give advice unless it’s asked for simply because I’ve been there! #bloggerclubuk
So true. Unless it’s to those who weren’t parents before I was and still decided to give me unwanted advice and who are NOW parents, then I offer it all the time. Yes, I’m petty. Tit for tat and all that.
I love this! Your advice is spot on. I was also guilty of the ‘I will never’ ‘my child will never’ and boy do I regret being such an idiot now! :D Thanks for joining us this week! #bigpinklink
Haha … not idiot, just inexperienced or naive. ?
Brilliant advice. I definitely agree with the never say never! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday
Oh I have so much love for this. Every single point. I think that we all just have to do whatever we need to do to get food into the baby and sleep into ourselves. Everything else can stay on the retailers highly inflated “things you need to buy from us in order to be a parent” list! Thanks for sharing with #DreamTeam x
#eatsleepblogRT I’m going to add one more…ignore all advice and listen to your instincts :)
Good one! X
This is a fab post! Every point you made, I was nodding along to. I love that you don’t put anyone down – you acknowledge that the people offering advice are doing it with good intentions. There was so much I thought I knew about being a parent before it actually happened… but you’re right – you can’t fully understand it until you’ve been through it yourself. #blogcrush
Thanks Lucy. I try not put anyone down. It’s not necessary. We should all just try to understand where they are coming from.
Totally agree with this. I thought I knew it all before my first son was born but the reality of it knocked me for six! I probably did, and am still doing, the opposite of things I said I would do back then. And I’m increasingly believing (now my sons are 5 and 2), that so much of the little parenting decisions we agonise about – like what sort of feeding to do – make very little difference in the long run. Thanks for linking to #EatSleepBlogRT. Hope you join again next week.
What a brilliant post! We bought so much crap we thought we needed and it wasn’t until a couple of months ago when Rory turned 1 that I realised all that crap is useless after the first year! If we have another I’ll definitely be buying more second hand and only stuff we NEED! #statclassymama
I only bought one thing second time round that I didn’t have first time round – a baby doughnut. And my second daughter hated it! More money wasted! kids!
Thanks for this! I find it incredibly difficult when people try to give me advice that I didn’t ask for. Especially when it in polar opposites to what I actually believe it! But you are right, it costs nothing to be polite and you don’t have to listen. Quite often I don’t! Like you say though, there may be something in there that I’ll need in years to come. Thank you x
Thanks for reading. I was exactly the same.
Nothing can really prepare you for becoming a parent. Once you have your baby yes you can and should listen to advice from people that have been there and done it but also remember that what worked for them might not work for you. Also couldn’t agree more with fed is best. As long as they are growing and are healthy who cares how it was done? Thank you for sharing with #StayClassyMama
Absolutely. Thanks. x
I remember when I was pregnant with my first and witnessed a parent bribing a child with sweets in a supermarket, I will never do that I thought to myself, little did I know #[email protected]_karendennis
haha … it’s scary how low our standards become just for the sake of our sanity. Thanks for commenting.
This is so true! Everyone handles it differently too – you may have never held a baby before but when your’s arrives you may take to it like a duck to water. You might have looked after babies all your life but when you have your own it might feel like the most alien thing you have ever done. You just don’t know…not until you actually do it! #TuesdayTreasures
Yes, a hard lesson for all step-mom’s I think (those that weren’t mum’s before), but my sister-in-law was possibly the worst! It hit her the hardest, and whilst I was a little smug, it’s still not something anyone wants to admit.
Some absoloutly fantastic advice there my friend, thanks so much for linking up with #TuesdayTreasures.
Thank you. I hope the simple message gets through all the babble! ?
This is a good well rounded big up to any mummy whatever parenting stance they take!! Do what makes you both happy ?
Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky
Thank you. Xx
This is all so true. Whatever you think, until you actually have children you haven’t got a clue. And you definitely don’t need half of the stuff the magazines try to sell you!
Thanks for the lovely comment. And for sharing my post x
[…] When you become a mom, there are so many, many, options available to you. The sheer volume of options can be very overwhelming. We spend hours reading books and researching option on the internet, I even wrote a post a while ago about what new and expecting mom’s really need to know: Realistic Advice for New Moms […]
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