Since becoming a mum I have come to the realisation that over the last 10 years or so women have become less confident as mothers – I often wonder if this has been caused by the fact there is too much information available to parents now. I never realised until I became a mum, that as soon as you had that mum title, people (soooo many people) thought it was ok to tell you how to be a mum, to offer (or force) their opinion on you and tell you when they thought you were wrong. Add the fact that it is so easy to google every parenting question you have and receive endless amounts of articles on every topic and parenting starts to become very overwhelming and the self-doubt kicks in.
It was for this very reason that when I found out I was pregnant with my first I made a vow to myself that I wasn’t going to read any parenting books. I was going to trust myself and my instincts and let that guide me as a mother. I will admit the only book I did read prior to having my first was Kaz Cooke’s ‘Up The Duff’ and with good reason as it is hilarious and very real. Growing up I was very fortunate as I came from a very large family and I was exposed to babies from a young age. So, I wasn’t scared of them and I had very real expectations of what it meant to have a baby. I knew that they cried a lot, I knew that I would have to change A LOT of nappies, that I would get poohed and spewed on and finally I knew there would be sleep deprivation. But the best bit of all I knew that all those not so glamorous things would be outweighed by all the love and happiness I would feel.
All my life I have struggled with confidence and self-belief, but by some miracle when it came to being a mum I found this confidence and strength I never knew I had. Being a mum is the only area in my life that I feel I am good at, where I am this confident and strong person. Becoming a mum changed me, I found this voice I never knew I had. I did start to read articles on relevant topics to me at the time, but only took ideas that I felt comfortable with. I also turned to my mother’s group a lot, as we all had babies around the same age going through the same things. I chose to trust myself and work out what worked best for me and my children. I found my own way of handling everything. It is true what they say ‘what works for one doesn’t always work for another.’
There is way too much pressure put on first time mums. Pressure to breastfeed, pressure to have a baby that is settled and sleeps and pressure to cope. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that. Breastfeeding is hard and takes time to establish, it doesn’t just come naturally. Babies cry and don’t always sleep when you want them to – they have their own schedule. And lastly babies take up a lot of your time, so keeping your house clean and maintaining all those household chores becomes extremely difficult in the beginning. But as time goes on and you adjust to caring for your tiny human and you find your own rhythm and routine it does get easier. That is the key, finding your own routine. Find what works for you and your baby. You will still have days when nothing goes to plan and nothing gets done and that is ok! Just remember to give yourself a break and time to adjust. Don’t feel pressured to fit into the perfect mum box, because between you and me there is no such thing. Being a mum means loving your child unconditionally, it means being there when they need you. As long as, your baby has a safe environment, is fed, has clean nappies, clean clothes, warm bed to sleep in then you are doing an amazing job as a mum.
I am not saying don’t read, as there is some great advice out there, what I am saying is don’t let all that information overwhelm you. Don’t let the abundance of information out there take away your confidence as a mum. Believe in yourself and trust your instincts and find what works best for you and your baby and go with it. Take only the advice you feel comfortable with and parent how you feel comfortable. Look in the mirror and tell yourself I am the best mum I can be, I am doing an amazing job – do this every single day. Never judge another mother because they do things differently to you or because their child behaves differently to yours – you never know what battles they are dealing with – instead tell them they are doing an amazing job. Let’s build mums up, let’s give them back their confidence.
To all the mums reading this – you are amazing!