By Phoebe Burgess
Being a mum is so much more than keeping a tiny human alive.
So if you want to know how to survive motherhood, here are five steps to follow.
You got this!
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.
There are always options and you can explore what’s right for your family, no matter 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. By the time I was pregnant with my son Billy, I was so looking forward to relishing the moments a little more when he was small and I didn’t have to trick him into kisses and cuddles.
So as a busy, tired and sore mum in those early stages, 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.
Soaking all of it in (even the hard times) makes it that much easier to survive motherhood, too.
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 and helped me survive motherhood.
I also found the older Poppy got, the more she began to thrive around the set times. Whether we actually met any of those times 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, was 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 worked best for us. We started 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.
Some of our best memories were from this little routine as it was 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 newborn but, for us, it created good habits and cornerstones in the day for the entire household right from the beginning.
4 // Get talking
The one thing I am good at is communicating. 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 your baby!
Talking to Poppy really helped me communicate with her early on about dangerous things, going to bed, or seeing if she’s hungry.
It removes so much guess work and that breakthrough moment you start understanding each other verbally is pretty special.
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 is key if you want to survive motherhood, especially in these modern times.
The 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 someone else’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.