I met Ruth a couple of years ago at The Premier Digital Awards where she took the prize for Young Blogger of The Year for her blog The Mustard Seed. Since then she has gone on to have her first baby, who is an absolute beauty! I asked her if she would share her top five tips for navigating life with a baby under one year. She has some excellent advice for our readers who are in a similar situation. Over to you Ruth…
Tip 1: Be prepared for the emotional rollercoaster
Anger. Tears. Anxiety. Sleep deprivation affected me in ways that I did not expect when the little one arrived. If someone could provide a repeat prescription for sleep, I imagine my mental health would have been a lot better. I found it impossible to sleep during the day despite everyone telling me to. If you can’t sleep, rest as much as you can. Keep conversing with people and let them know how you feel. In the early days, I phoned a 24-hour breastfeeding support line in tears in the middle of the night. I let my health visitor know that I was struggling and was honest with friends and family. They can take it – they are there for you. There are different challenges and wonderful joys as babies develop new skills and participate in new experiences. Take time to appreciate them on this amazing journey of parenthood.
Tip 2: Support is key
It’s OK not to be superhuman. You are raising a beautiful baby – you’re already amazing and are not meant to shoulder it alone! If someone offers to do the dishes, let them. One of my friends suggested I should ask visitors to help with one practical thing I needed in exchange for cuddles with the baby. Another friend saw what needed to be done around the house and just got on with it – it was amazing and so helpful. She hoovered, cleaned the bathroom and generally looked after me. I was thankful for any help and was open about how I was doing.
Tip 3: Don’t put pressure on yourself and don’t compare yourself to others
I put pressure on myself to do what other new mums were doing at first. Many were going to classes, taking their babies swimming and meeting up regularly. It might work for some families but it’s also OK to go at your own pace and do what works for you. Staying at home a bit more also enabled me and my son to get into a flexible routine so we both knew where we were! It’s important to try and not compare yourself and your baby with others as hard as it might be. We are all unique and parenting is a lot of trial and error. Keep calm and don’t overindulge on Instagram and Facebook either!
Tip 4: Make time for the things that make you smile
It can be hard to get time for yourself when there is someone who depends on you so much. If you don’t take time for your wellbeing however, it will be even harder to give your best to those around you. Get some fresh air. Read a book. Make a cup of tea and drink it before it gets cold! Do the things you love to do when you can. I love to write and I’m typing this as the little one naps! It’s great to be able to apply my mind to something that is fun and relaxing before the next round of feeding, play time and nappy changing begin.
Tip 5: Draw near to God
Even though this is my last point, it’s personally the most important one for my mental health. I have intentionally carved out time in my day to speak with God and nurture my spirituality. As a Christian, I know that God gives me the strength and the grace needed each day to be a parent. It is my faith that has equipped me to navigate the turbulent waters of new motherhood. The first nap of the day is when I make time to bring the struggles and the joys of life in prayer. I know that not everyone reading this will have faith, but in my life prior to becoming a parent (which seems like a lifetime ago now!), I have known God to be with me in times of difficulty. Remembering this has really sustained me in this new season of life.
Thanks so much for taking the time to contribute to the blog Ruth.
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