When I found out that I was pregnant for the very first time, I found an instant need to resource myself with every credible book/article I could find to ensure that I was sufficiently prepared for this new little life that Logan and I would parent. SOOO much information, although useful, got too much. After almost 9 years and 3 children, I’ve come to realise that it is about embracing YOUR specific and unique experience, having confidence in your motherly instinct and the ability to get up and get better when you fail (we all do 😊) that makes you YOUR best at it! I also found it so useful to lean on the collective wisdom of a few family and friends who have already walked this journey! So here it is…some valuable advice for "new to the hood" mums AND dads (let’s not forget the dads, cos it’s their first time too).
This advice is honest, raw, straight from the heart of REAL LIFE mums walking the motherhood journey…They are all different; wise young mums, to older and wiser mums, with kids ranging from 5 years old to tween, teenage, adult and married kids, some with just one and some with a few.
As I read this, I personally found that even after the many years of muddling through motherhood, I can still learn a thing or three 😊 and there are so many common threads! Its so worth the read!
I hope this helps you, but if it’s not for you, that’s also ok. After all, what’s good for one may not be good for another.
Being a mum is the world's best feeling, YES, it changes your lifestyle, makes you become independent and mature but at the same time, it can be stressful and demanding. In those times choose to trust your instinct that will automatically kick in, and as you do that you will learn about your child's uniqueness and grow in your new role of being a mother.
Your kids need you in different ways at each stage of their lives, be sure to identify where they are at and what they need and be just that for them.
Ethel (AKA Supermum, My Mumma)
It’s okay to not be perfect, kids are all different and require LOVE NOT PERFECTION. Don’t be taken by the notion of what you think you should be, be who you are, your kids will flourish with authenticity ,and respect you for it when they are older!
Celeste Matsose, Mum of 4
Surround yourself with likeminded women (moms or not) that can journey with you authentically, a safe place where you can be vulnerable and open to ask for help and to celebrate milestones. Remember what you invest in will grow and that goes for every sphere of your life not just your finances. So, go ahead and invest in your: marriage, your kids, family and friends. Finally celebrate your own uniqueness - there is only one of you for a purpose.
Mika -Wife, Mom, Friend and Lover of all things creative
Emotions Emotions Emotions !!! - Put on some comedy, watch some funny videos , it’s a great distraction for beating the blues, the Post-partum blues. I would often stare into nothingness and just cry, it’s normal, if at any point you feel like it’s getting worse as opposed to getting better, speak to your gynae. Post-partum blues is a real thing especially if it’s your first time as it’s not so easy to identify .
Ask for help - I often hear moms say they don’t think it’s fair to ask their husbands for help at 3am because they need to be able to function at work, you being on maternity leave is “work“ as well, it’s going to be hard all round and having someone in the wee hours helping you burp and change a diaper, especially when things go wrong like a projectile vomit or a projectile poo (both happened to me this morning 😆)
Bonding takes time - I always felt a deep love for my babies when I gave birth but I never really felt like I bonded with them - designating a time for baby massage helps, it’s a couple minutes of uninterrupted time with you and your baby, choose a time when they are relaxed and in a sleepy calm state, physical touch has immense benefits and if you can get a massage too even better 😬
When you are feeling exhausted and wasted take some time to go for a walk and breathe some fresh air, reflect on all the things you are grateful for - it’s scientifically proven that when you are in a state of gratitude you cannot be anxious or depressed at the same time, being a mom is hard work and you need to be able to master this.
Juanita Moodley , Mum of 3
Equip yourself, be knowledgeable... You WILL eventually get to know your child. Then start trusting your gut/instinct.... Bear in mind that not everything goes by the book, just be YOU... Do what works for you and your baby...
Shantal Sewparsad, Mum of 2
This is your journey with your baby, and you need to live with the consequences of the decisions you make in this, your most important job. You will be showered with advice, whether you ask for it or not. Listen to it politely, then give yourself time to sift through it so you can decide whether it will be a good option for you or not. You can’t please everyone, and you will make yourself sick trying to.
Trust your own instincts.
We all want our children to be perfect, but they have their own journeys to go through, you are there to guide them, not own them. Over the years it’s the parents’ job between babyhood and adulthood to slowly hand them back their own lives, not make them dependent on us. Children make mistakes, parents make mistakes. They watch what we do more than they listen to what we say, so it’s important to live how we want them to live. We can only change ourselves.
I was a screaming hag of a mother for the first few years of my children’s lives. One day I looked into my son’s eyes and realised how I was hurting him. I apologised to both and decided to change - and everything around me changed. The principles I have striven to live by since then are:
To treat my children with the same respect I would give to my best friend.
To keep our conversations confidential.
To listen without reacting (a biggie).
To be available when they ask for help, no matter how busy I am. Their time as children goes by very quickly and they should be the priority.
To remind them constantly, through word and deed, how much I love them.
At any time my words to them could be the last words they ever heard from me. Use words carefully.
Lower your voice instead of raising it so they must strain to hear it. Much more effective than training them to only respond when we get to screaming pitch. And less damaging to them.
Words that inspired me when I saw them on a grave in Pilgrims Rest on our honeymoon ‘a tender mother, a sincere wife. She knew her job and did it thoroughly’.
Apart from God’s mercy and grace, I know these principles worked because I have great relationships with my children and in-law children. I also read every Christian book I could find on raising children and did a couple of courses, which confirmed that I was on the right track.
Priscilla Peterson Mum of two kids, 16 months apart, who are currently married and thriving. “l had 4 miscarriages (between 14 and 19 weeks) over the following 3 years after having my 2 kids, so those years were crazy” says Priscilla.
Everything does not always have to be perfect. Enjoy every moment with your little one. Listen to advice and tips from others and do what is best for you and your baby.
Nevashnee Nulliah, Mum of 2
When I reflect to 1998 as a new mum I am reminded of the joys, the fun, the mistakes, the fears, the exciting and the overwhelming days I have journeyed. Every day, each month, every year I grew up.
Be Confident - every mum is doing this for the first time!
There are no set ways to bath a baby, or the best and only bottle to use for a feed. Be confident as a mum, make choices.
Keep the Balance - Babies are a blessing gifted to us, a joy and some added on responsibilities. A few shifting and adjusting of your routines will happen, but the baby doesn’t replace a spouse, or friendship. So, keep the balance, with your Family Life, Social, Spiritual and Career. Never feed all your focus and attention on only your career and neglect your marriage. Never only spend time in your family life and neglect your Social Life. Make time for your precious baby but keep the balance.
Don’t panic - in a frightening experience of a very high fever my baby was rushed to a doctor. I was anxious and fearing the worst. The doctor said these words to me that changed my panic to prayer, “I have to ask you to leave the room as your baby is sensitive to your anxiety.” I walked out calming myself and realising I never want her to get worse, so I prayed. Especially breast-feeding mums, your babies are very sensitive to your reactions.
Choose your words - Everything you say over your infants, there’s power in the tongue. As a mum you get to shape, build and raise this little human who lived inside of you for 9 months. What you confess your little boy or girl would possess. So, make sure you declare the best for your little one as you feed them, change them, bath them and put them to bed. You have the most conversations with them, so choose your words.
Kersh Nicodemus, Mum of 2
Let sleeping kids sleep! They will tell you when they are hungry or need a nappy change
Mona Pillay Mum of 2
Being a mum is the greatest privilege and responsibility a woman can hold. Treasure every moment. There will be challenging times but always look ahead as easier days will be around the corner. As new mums, be eager to take advice from the experienced women in your world but tailor that advice to suit your personality, your needs and that of your child. And lastly, always trust your gut because every mum from the time of birth has this 6th sense of knowing their child.
Cleopatra, Mum of 2 precious angels, and expecting another.
Reading books and listening to the advice of just about everyone is good, but that might not always work for you and your family. Every baby is different and as a new mom you need to find what works best for you. PLUS...Pigeon breast pads are the best. Don’t be afraid to use the cold cabbage leaves to relieve sore breastfeeding challenges, definitely works.
Close Friend, Mum of 3
Realise that someone else’s experience will not likely be your experience. Enjoy your journey.Don’t get advice from too many people. Find a Dr and a nurse you trust and a few close friends/mentors whose parenting style you like.
Bianca Lewarne, Mum of 2
.... don’t compare yourself or your baby to other mums and babies. You and your new baby will grow together in your own time. Don’t rush your journey. Take the time to be the mum God intended you to be, not a copycat. Love yourself as much as your baby loves you.
Charlotte Kenny, Mum of 2
Give yourself double the time you would usually need to do anything and then a little bit more time ;-) This may save you multitudes of frustration. Little hands and feet take a LONG time to do EVERYTHING.
Just as teaching our kids to wait is an invaluable life skill (fast forward…I see that delayed gratification, baby!). Learning to wait patiently for them to burp after their midnight feed, tie their own shoe laces, finish their breakfast, change their undies, put their own toothpaste on the toothbrush, just quickly find the book they read last week before we get in the car, [fill in your current waiting game here], is a great way (and really challenging way) to model patience.
I’m still on the journey of learning that parenting is possibly the most effective tool God could ever use to refine our character to be most like Him. As we spend our very selves to ensure our small people mature, God is shaping our own maturity, if we allow it.
There is no refining quite like the fiery furnace of motherhood.
I can thank Amber Lia and Wendy Speake (“Triggers" authors) for these gems. Nowhere else on earth are there so many countless opportunities to be grown in the fruits of the Spirit. Some days, five minutes can feel like a minimum of twenty-five practice runs at self-control. But what benefit to the whole family when that self-control kicks in? I’m very much still on a journey with this (and every other aspect of motherhood really) so giving advice can feel a little hypocritical, but in the words of John Mayer... I’m not together but I’m getting there… by the grace of God.
Claire Enslin, Mum of 2
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