Here are the most important survival tips for motherhood you need to know, to help you navigate this wild ride. Welcome to the hood, mama.
By Phoebe Burgess
Just like babies don’t come with a manual, neither does motherhood. You need to feel your way through it.
But you know what makes it easier? Chatting to other mamas and finding out what works for them. Think of these little gems as survival tips for motherhood. You got this!
“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.”
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.
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 srsly, 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.
So 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. And it turned out to be one of my top survival tips for motherhood.
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 times throughout the day is still uncertain, but in my head, they were there providing the skeleton to our often chaotic days).
Routines also help to give baby a sense of security and stability.
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 your baby! It 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 asked questions, she said “no” and “more” a lot! It removed 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 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 (as well as each other’s survival tips for motherhood), 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.