I used to be the perfect mum.
I’d hear my girlfriends bribe their kids to behave, and I’d shake my head in judgement. ‘No wonder kids are so entitled these days’; I’d think to myself.
I’d see toddlers glued to iPads in cafes and I’d tsk-tsk their parents for being lazy. ‘Our kids will never use screens at mealtime’, I’d whisper to my husband.
I’d roll my eyes up in disbelief every time a mum complained about how tired and unappreciated she was. ‘Seriously, how hard could it be?’, I’d snigger.
And then three days into motherhood, I came to the scary realisation that I wasn’t the perfect mum I thought I would be.
If I could turn back time, I’d apologise to all the mums I judged with my smug ‘I’ll be better than you’ attitude. I’d offer to hold their crying colicky baby, entertain their spirited toddler or just fold one of their many loads of washing.
And I would listen. Really listen. Because there are so many things that I now wish I had known before I became a mum.
These are just some of those things!
- Your baby will spend a lot of time crying because, well, that’s just what babies do. And despite feeding, changing, burping, bouncing…..they may just continue to cry, because, again, that’s just what babies do! Your baby crying is NOT a reflection of your success or failure as a mother. And eventually you’ll just accept that crying is part of your new life.
- You will fight with your husband/partner over who is pulling all the weight. You may even consider strangling him while he sleeps peacefully in bed at 3am while you feed your hungry little piranha with no sign of getting to bed any time soon…or ever again.
- Breastfeeding won’t be easy initially. So before you feel guilty for giving up, just remember that less than only half of all babies are exclusively breastfed to 3 months and less than one quarter to 5 months. So while you may feel alone, you’re certainly not!
- Your baby may hate travelling in the car. It will make your life that much more difficult, but you’ll learn to adjust and gradually it will get better. And until then, online grocery deliveries will become your world!
- Just when you start to relax about what your baby needs in the stage she’s in, she will enter a new stage. And you’ll realise that it never actually does get ‘easy’, just easier!
- Weekends, sick-days and holidays will no longer apply to you! Be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, take time for yourself. Because you can’t look after anyone until you look after yourself - so grab that oxygen mask mama, you need it!
- Perfect is not the standard. You just show up, that’s what you do. You’ve got this!
Written by Ani Tuna, Founder of MumLife Australia
HI MAMA, I’M ANI
MumLife Australia’s Lead-Mama, PANDA Community Champion & Mum of Two
I still remember those first frightening moments after bringing my newborn baby home from hospital. Everything felt so new and unfamiliar. And everywhere I looked, I was faced with images of Perfect Mum. From Instagram to Mother’s Group – It seemed like there was a competition for that elusive title!
And as a strong, successful and independent woman, those images of Perfect Mum shaped my entire expectations of motherhood.
So there I stood, a new and overwhelmed mum, on the slippery slope of mummy self-doubt. Every little decision seeming momentous and fraught with anxiety. When my baby cried, unable to be comforted, my feelings of helplessness and overwhelm made me question e-v- e-r- y-t- h-i- n-g.
And when she didn’t take to breastfeeding, I felt an immense amount of guilt.
‘Would she be less intelligent? Would she be less successful? Would she be less happy? Would it be ALL MY FAULT?’
It wasn’t until I reached breaking point that I finally let go of my need to be perfect. And as soon as I accepted things as they were, other mums around me began to open up and share their difficulties as well.
Now a mum to two gorgeous girls (I know, I’m bias), I love watching their (cheeky but mostly kind) personalities grow into their own individual characters. Yes, life can still be a roll coaster at times, but with realistic expectations and greater preperation, the second time around has been an entirely different experience.
These are the resources and the support I wish were available when I was a first-time mum.