Recently, during one of my son’s feeds combined with an afternoon nap came across this article from the BBC with 5 tips to help your child’s mental health. And it is a lovely read, I particularly love the focus on the benefits of attachment parenting. However, there are a few things I wish I had been told, or possibly more accurately, listened to.
1 – Your standards WILL drop.
I really didn’t think I had standards that could be lowered. I used to regularly get into work and realise that I hadn’t looked in the mirror, or brushed my hair since the night before, when I went to bed with wet hair. So I would regularly roll up looking like the before shot in a hair styling advert.
But at least I was clean. After baby came it was a serious struggle to remember when I last changed my underwear or washed. I had a disturbing conversation with my self as to whether brushing my teeth while on the toilet was an ingenuis life hack or just one desperate step too far. (You’ll be pleased to know I settled on the latter). Then of course there was the time hubby took baby off me and told me to go for a shower.
How to cope: Bottles of mouthwash, dry shampoo and accepting offers to watch the baby for half an hour for the extreme luxury of a shower, shave and blow dry.
2 – Picking things up from the floor is HARD work just after you have given birth.
Even if you didn’t have your belly sliced open in a c-section, your core muscles will be just a little slack now. Plus you are spending your time carry a weight around in your arms that changes your centre of gravity.
I am naturally blessed or cursed with long and flexible toes and learnt to pick things up with my toes. This skill was developed further and allowed me to open safety gates while carrying a baby and a hot cup of coffee. I really did enjoy watching my son trying to copy me (without the cup of coffee I must add) and it stopped him from working out how to really open it for quite some time.
For some strange reason I am not allowed to recommend this to the general public. Apparently sleep deprived women will do some bizarre things and take this suggestion seriously. By the way has anyone seen my toothbrush?
How to cope: A visit to your local sling library to get the right sling means you can carry baby safely and you can get a grabber for as little as £5. It has extra uses, such as retrieving toys from under the sofa, the nooks and crannies of the cars and pinching your significant other awake if they are snoring through your night feeds.
3 – Your baby will not stay still for nappy changes.
In the baby craft lessons you have a nice doll that doesn’t scream when a cold wipe is used in its bottom, kick you or use you for target practice. But the real struggles begins when he or she learns to roll over, crawl and then walk. On more than one occasion I have chased a naked baby around the house with a nappy in my hand and the Benny Hill theme tune in my head.
A quick ask at a baby group confirmed as tempting as it is to fit handcuffs to the baby changing mat it woud probably result in a visit from social services.
How to cope: Start off by changing nappies with your baby face down, then use the face baby can move to your advantage. I encourage my son to hug me while he is in a standing position to keep him relatively stationary.
4 – Wave goodbye to your dignity, it isn’t forever but you’ll benefit from the break
I thought it went when I had to ask my husband to trim my toenails during pregnancy. But no, there are pooh dramas, melt downs and that’s just me.
I knew I had found inner strength to the unthinkable, the unimaginable the day I sucked snot out of my baby’s nose.
But it isn’t all bad, you can get away with doing some crazy fun things in the name of entertaining your little person. When my favourite songs are played in shops I sing and dance along with little one and instead of calling security onlookers smile indulgently.
So why not got a step further, cast off the inhibitions that make you an adult and slightly dull. To a child the word is an exciting and mysterious place, free of danger and full of new friends. For a short time you get to share in this wonderful experience so embrace it.
How to cope: When my son was getting freaked out by using lifts I added sound effects and pretended we were in a time machine.