The things I wish I had done more of when I had one baby
I remember clearly those early months with my first newborn and quite frankly laugh at myself now. I find it hard to imagine why I found it so hard, or understand what it was I was doing wrong. Because despite the traumas I went on to have 2 more in quick succession and have managed to mildly cope with 3 boys born in just 4.5 years.
BUT that first year with one child was definitely the hardest. I had a years maternity leave. My heavily involved (far too much he really wound me up) husband at home full time on a research year. My wonderful mum would turn super nanny and come and stay for 3 days every fortnight and I still found it a struggle. At times there would be 3 adults trying to look after one baby and I would realise I hadn’t brushed my teeth at 4pm.
I wish I could go back to my struggling self and share some confidence in parenting abilities, share some shortcuts and some snippets of useful information to make those days easier. Because actually they were quite easy compared to having 3 little ones under my feet and now I look back and think why didn’t I make more of that whole year with just me and my baby? When you have toddlers to contend with, your experience with your newborn totally changes. In many ways it is more amazing (especially if your toddler can pass you the wipes or turn the TV on), but there are so many things I struggle to do with two or three little ones that I wish I had done more of when I had just one. Here’s a few……
- Lengthy walks. There’s nothing quite like getting out in the fresh air after a tough night and your newborn dozing away in your shiny new pram whilst you try and power walk off that 3am bakewell slice. Toddlers just whinge after 35metres and demand snacks and ‘carry me’
2. Meals out. Take a bottle or a boob, feed up that newborn and you have at least 1 hour peace while they doze to sit in a pub and indulge in steak and chips and apple crumble that someone else has made and you wont need to clear up. Toddlers will be overtired whinging or tearing around the pub high on fruitshoots and chicken nuggets.
3. Holidays. In my head it was totally out of the question to take a young baby abroad but when there are more adults than kids ANYTHING is possible. And you can take it in turns to sunbathe whilst the other is on duty. Toddlers will be a nightmare travelling and be very high maintenance all week, trust me your bum will not make an acquaintance with a sun lounger.
4. Shopping. Going to John Lewis and feeding them in the café before ambling around shops buying poncey clothes and nursery interiors they don't need. You don't feel guilty as its for the baby and your too fat to fit into any new clothes anyway. Shopping and toddlers just ain’t worth it, go online.
5. Exercise. Many gyms including my local one have a crèche every week day morning. A new born will gladly go along with this, so long as they are fed/winded/cuddled/changed they don't give a hoot who is looking after them. A toddler will however cling to your leg screaming and make the whole experience more stressful than an hours swim is worth.
6. Sleeping. ‘When the baby naps, you nap’ is the line that comes from the Health Visitors, and the baby can (apparently) nap for up to 16 hours a day. Well why the hell did I not manage this napping phenomenon once with a newborn, as I certainly didn't manage it when I had two or three at home.
7. Relax. Yes its exhausting times, yes it can be lonely and miserable and in many ways really really hard work. But in hindsight its such a short period of time and nothing mattered in those days other than the baby. So what was I always so stressed about? With one baby in a bouncer you really can put your feet up for 10mins and drink that warm coffee. With a toddler you’ll be desperate for the baby to go in the bouncer so you can cook the toddlers tea and get some washing done.
8. Cuddling. Now I am totally out of the baby phase I just have to see a mum cuddling a newborn and my ovaries start leaping into my mouth. Yet when I had a newborn I mostly only cuddled him to stop him crying and then tried to move onto something else. And when there are toddlers climbing on you, demanding peppa pig or needing their bums wiped its just not the same. What I would give to go back and spend a day cuddled on the sofa and have no schedule and essay of other jobs to do.
Maybe I am just being deluded as it certainly was not a walk in the park at the time and I probably tried and failed at all of the above. But I would urge all new mums to be mindful of this tiny window and try to enjoy every little opportunity to enjoy it because you will NEVER get those opportunities again.