Parenting a Newborn: What I Would Have Told My Ten-Week Ago Self…

I have now been a Mummy for just over nine weeks and was recently reflecting on what I would have told myself ten weeks ago, if I’d known what I know now. This is just my experience – I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments (including if you disagree with any of mine!)…

1. You cannot even begin to imagine the kind and strength of love you will have for your child.

2. You will learn that you really can function relatively well on much less sleep than you ever thought possible.

3. And speaking of sleep…everyone will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, particularly during the day. No one will tell you that every time the baby sleeps during the day you will suddenly have to prioritise which of the things involving two hands you will do whilst the baby sleeps – think dressing yourself, cooking, dishes, laundry or the luxury of holding a hot drink in one hand and a book in the other without worrying about spilling the hot drink on the baby. Sleeping does not require two hands and so may not even cross your mind, except when you think, “I’m supposed to sleep right now, but for my sanity’s sake I need to (insert two-handed task here)…

4. For the first few days, you will appreciate your shower time and the few minutes it gives you to just be you on your own more than you ever anticipated.

5. Some days getting dressed by lunchtime will feel like an achievement. Other days, getting dressed at all will be a victory.

6. No matter how much you do not want to become one of those women who only talk about the baby, on some days you will need to make a real effort to cover non-baby topics at the dinner table.

7. And speaking of dinner-time conversation…you may not have spoken to another adult all day and so may be tempted to talk non-stop but the others present would probably prefer to participate in the conversation instead of just listening to your monologue.

8. It is possible to watch everything that interests you on BBC iPlayer*. You may find other viewing delights through your Lovefilm* subscription but by the time you have decided which film to watch, the feed during which you were deciding will be over, the baby will be asleep and it will be time to move on to other tasks (see point 3 above).

9. Watching something on a screen is a much better option than reading a book for keeping you awake during midnight feeds – sound can’t be turned off without you actually touching the laptop but the words on a page can easily be ignored once your eyelids close.

10. And speaking of midnight feeds…you will discover that, despite what you previously thought, it is possible to doze off with your head flopped awkwardly forward into mid-air.

11. You will become obsessed by how much your baby sleeps and wonder why the number of hours your baby sleeps is significantly lower than the averages mentioned for babies the age of your baby on just about every baby or parenting website. After days of wondering why your baby is sleeping so many hours fewer than the averages you see all over the web, you will realise that the average sleep hours mentioned are not realistic as there aren’t enough hours in the day for your baby to sleep for that average number of hours and also manage to be awake for all those hour to hour and a half long feeds, the numerous daily nappy changes and more than about 15 minutes of the ‘playtime’ equivalent for a 6-week old.

12. Keeping a record of feeds and sleeps may provide you with much-needed intellectual stimulation at a level commensurate with your sleep-deprived mental state, but it will not provide you with the formula of daytime feeds and sleeps that lead to good night sleep that you are so desperately seeking – that formula does not exist.

13. You will want and search for pattern and predictability. Pattern and predictability are not concepts familiar to your newborn baby.

14. You will feel like every other parent has got it more together than you. This is not true – bear in mind the fact that you made it out the house with a clean, fed child, clean, brushed hair and having changed out of the ‘home clothes’ that are your staple on bad days probably makes it look like you’ve got this parenting thing sussed to others as much as them doing the same makes it look to you like they’ve got it sussed.

15. It will all be worth it the first time your baby smiles at you, and you will fall ever more in love with them every day.

*I have chosen to mention BBC iPlayer and Lovefilm based on my own experience. Neither of these have sponsored or endorsed this blog post, and, as far as I am aware, neither of them are even aware of this blog.

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