Here Phoebe Burgess, journalist and mum of one (+ pregnant with bub no. two) reveals the 5 most important tips she has discovered on this interesting (but not necessarily straight) path we call motherhood that have helped her survive…
1. Build your network
Pre-baby, being an independent fully functioning self-sufficient young woman making it in the adult world all on my fabulous lonesome was a top priority. Post-baby, I learnt very quickly being able to ask for help when I needed it was just as heroic as going all Beyoncé in my former life. It really does take a village to raise a child. Whether you’re a first-time rookie or an experienced Super-mum, we all need an extra pair of hands sometimes or someone to watch the baby while you get your brows done, clean the bathroom or take five deep breaths on your own in the linen cupboard.
Building yourself a new ‘Little Black Book’ that’s a personal network of family (blood-related or in-laws), reliable mates, a caring neighbour, a babysitter, a nanny and anyone else you can trust will provide you with an invaluable safety net of support if and when you might need it.
When Poppy was born I chose my mum to be my ‘person’ when my husband was working and to help us both navigate those first few (overwhelming and exhausting) weeks as a new-mum. She was there at 2am to answer my “is that snorting sound normal”, “what colour should she be now” and “is she sleeping too long” doubts (Note: my daughter is still not sleeping through the night, so no, they never sleep too long.).
Since then, in order to keep just a sliver of our old existence alive, we have developed a contact list of babysitters and nannies we trust and Poppy has since started daycare twice a week (she would go every day if she could). There are options and you can explore what’s right for your family and at what stage you’re ready to start venturing out sans baby (but remember: baby steps!)
2. Enjoy the little moments
You’re always told “they grow up fast”, but seriously, they grow up SO. FAST. The first few months of my daughter’s life went by so quickly. One feed rolled into a nappy change, a bath, Thai takeaway again and by the time you’ve done that a million times night and day, you’ve blinked and your “newborn” is sitting in their high chair watching Finding Nemo asking for “more Vegie Mummy” (translation: more vegemite on toast mum).
When you are pregnant on the other hand, it feels like time is crawling by wonderful symptom by wonderful symptom; one odd craving at a time. With baby number two on his way, I’m looking forward to relishing the moments a little more when he’s small and I don’t have to trick him into kisses and cuddles.
As a busy, tired and sore mum in those early stages, you need to remind yourself to pause and appreciate the little moments even though you might be dying to reach for the wine or press fast forward on your night feeds.
3. Routines are the best habit
I am a big fan of routine. With a reflux baby having regular daytime and bedtime schedule for Poppy gave me a sense of structure when nothing was guaranteed. Just having mini milestone moments throughout my day became, mentally, a real lifesaver.
I also found, the older Poppy got, the more she began to thrive around the set times (whether we actually met any of those time throughout the day is still uncertain, but in my head, they were there providing the Skelton to our often chaotic days.).
Routines also help to give baby a sense of security andstability. One of Poppy’s (correction: the household’s) favorite times of the day, is not-so-shockingly her bedtime routine.
From the moment we bathed Poppy for the first time we implemented the Johnson Baby’s 3-step Bedtime Routine which works best for us. We start off with a warm bath using Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Bath, followed by a massage with Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Lotion then quiet reading time with her current favorite Each Peach Pear Plum.
Some of our best memories are from this little routine as it’s a chance for our entire family to wind down, but more importantly, to stop and connect after a busy day.
It might feel like ‘routine’ is wasted on a newbornbut, for us, it created good habits and cornerstones in the day for the entire household right from the beginning.
Sam and I adore bath time and it’s become a moment in time we mentally cherish and hold onto to mark the end of a day full or little wins – or maybe a tough day where absolutely nothing went to plan. Both are possible in baby land! This routine will be a definite fixture for bub number two as well.
4. Get talking
The one thing I am good at is communicating. My husband calls me a talker. And being on my own most days with a little baby, Poppy got to listen to my daily word count. You might think talking doesn’t start until your baby is older however, babies communicate from birth through crying, eye contact and listening.
So, talk to yourbaby! It’s really helped me to be able to communicate with Poppy early on about dangerous things, going to bed, or seeing if she’s hungry. I ask questions, she says “no” and “more” a lot!
It removes so much guess work and that breakthrough moment you start understanding each other verbally is pretty special. Talking to Poppy and knowing what she wants will be invaluable when her little brother is born.
5. Never, Ever Compare
In the age of the “mummy blogger” and “Instagram parenting,” it’s so important to enjoy social media as a tool for communication, information, community and good old time wasting BUT stop yourself before you commit the crime of comparing your reality or your child to someone else’s.
That same mentality goes for “mum groups,” park days or even family BBQs. Unless it’s an open, real and honest conversation where you’re sharing the highs AND lows of parenting and all the mess ups in between, you never know what is going on for someoneelse’s journey.
Your successes might be their challenges and what they are nailing might be evading you. So, stay in your lane, appreciate your wins and keep at what you find a challenge.
You and your baby will create your own story and your own milestones.