Congratulations! Here is your baby, along with a million pieces of advice that somehow cancel each other out. WELCOME TO MOTHERHOOD.
The ‘hardest’ part of my day used to be work decisions. Decisions on budget spend, a few meetings, negotiations, meetings, what should I have for lunch, more meetings and then, should I finish this task off now or should I head to the pub and madly cram it into my day tomorrow? I used to be able to make a decision easily or get some guidance from those in the know if I needed a hand. These days, if I need some advice on parenting, it comes fast and thick with a side of ‘being a Mum’ contradiction.
Everything started around 8 years ago, when I had my first baby, actually rewind a little more, to when I was first ‘showing’ during pregnancy.
Friend one: ‘Can you eat sushi? Should you eat it? My cousins, sister-in-laws, friends sister ate sushi once while pregnant and she was really sick, they were worried about the baby.’
Friend two: ‘oh gosh, I had sushi all the time when I was pregnant and baby Ruby is perfect, it’s so ridiculous how far people go with the whole pregnant food thing, just eat what you want to eat’
Hmmmmm who is right? Maybe both of them. I’m not the first person to have been through pregnancy, isn’t there some kind of definitive guide I can read? Oh yes, there is… I mean are, there are approximately 1 billion ‘guides’ are available to glean information from and all 1 billion of them contradict each other.
Want to breastfeed your baby? Try the football hold. Make sure you only feed lying down on the side, it’s the only way your boob will properly drain. Cradle holding is the best. Have you tried holding them upside-down while hopping?
Breastfeeding not working out like you had planned? Keep breastfeeding, yes through the blood and tears, it’ll get easier. But do it whilst bottle feeding because you want other people to be able to feed your baby and do not ever give your baby a bottle that isn’t sterilised. Do you sterilise your boobs? No? Why would you sterilise everything, that’s crazy talk! Bottle feed only, they sleep longer.
Start solids at 4 months, no wait, 6 months, no it’s recommended to start at 9 months, they only need milk until then. But make sure they experience and taste everything from 4 months or you’ll have a fussy eater on your hands.
Sleep train, there is no other way to get any sleep, but do it whilst not damaging them emotionally and ruining your bond. Have your baby sleep in your bed, it’s the only way to get sleep but they cling to you, make sure they’re not still sleeping in your bed when they turn 21 or when they turn 1 either. so half cry and half sleep in my bed? Is that what is meant to happen?
Daycare. Oh my God, daycare. DO NOT send them until the year before school. Don’t send them at all. Send them when they are 1, they’ll be more social. No hang on, boys apparently don’t do well later in life if they’ve been sent to daycare too early, but they have to go to develop social skills and learn Pythagoras theorem. Girls socialise well, but you don’t want them to learn bad social skills so you should send them before age 1, but also don’t send them until they are 3.
And, you know what, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t stop when they get to school either…
Seriously, how are we as mothers meant to maintain our mental health with this constant barrage of ‘advice’?
There is so much noise out there on how to do the best by your child, how to be the best mother. You wanna know something? YOU ALREADY ARE. The fact that you worry about these things, about how your child is eating, sleeping and developing makes you a good parent, no, scrap that, it makes you an AMAZING parent.
Your child will go through ups and downs, they’ll be brilliant at one thing and not as strong at another. That’s what makes them, them. They’re all different and they’ve got their own road ahead of them, we all want to do the best for our children, but take each piece of advice with a pinch of salt, because the people giving you advice simply are not you.
I’m feeling more and more comfortable these days with my mothering decisions and it’s most likely down to experience and understanding that EVERYONE has their own way of doing things. If someone has a child that sleeps through the night, I am not failing this parenting thing, it just means their child is different to mine.
If there was ONE thing I could have said to myself before I entered the world of motherhood it would be ‘I know there is all this advice out there, but seriously, find one person who loves you and helps you to understand what works for YOU and YOUR CHILD. Don’t listen to the sea of advice, after all, every piece is a complete contradiction’.
Want to see the funny side of Motherhood contradictions? This vid has it all: