Ever wondered how eye-twitching, exhausted parents get through the day? Here’s how I keep them alive
Let it go
In the eternal words of that Disney classic Frozen, you have to let it go. All of it. The house/mind/former love of casual cinema dates. Just don’t fight it and succumb. Sure, you’ll get back to a place of having your life together (when they leave home) but with young kids, just Sellotape over the cracks, enjoy the occasional smiles (and spontaneous shin cuddles) and try to laugh more than you cry. Especially when your toddler hollers “mama has a spiky hoo ha” in the tinned goods aisle of Tesco.
Don’t look left, don’t look right – unless crossing a road. Just look straight ahead at what you are doing and where you are going. There’s far too many ways to compare yourself to others out there but all that counts is the direction you are going in. Don’t get weighed down because you see a photo of someone spoonfeeding pureed kale into their kid as you are wrangling with a fish finger-obsessed toddler.
‘Me time’ makes me feel uncomfortable. It just seems a bit patronising and over-egged when all it means is ‘sit down for five minutes and don’t worry about that hair-covered raisin under the sofa.’ As my mum (@grandmother_pukka) says, do one thing you love each day. It doesn’t have to be ‘start novel’, it could simply be ‘drink tea that isn’t lukewarm with a biscuit that isn’t soggy.’
Help I need somebody
Let people in. If someone offers to help, let them. Don’t soldier on in silence, thinking it’s an empty offer. It might well be but they’ve said it so yep, they can hold the baby while you have a wee and wash your hair. With my first kid I was too polite, wondering why anyone would want to hold my Weetabix-smattered offspring. Now I’m handing her to kindly strangers on a flight (places where they can’t escape, of course) and having a blissful solo wee. It feels like a week in the Bahamas.
Boob feed, bottle feed, Instagram feed, bird feed… there’s so much out there on how to feed the little chicks, it’s overwhelming. Listen to yourself, listen to your medical advisors but don’t wade through the entire Internet looking for answers. However you are feeding them is yout choice and as long as you are all alive you are more than winning.
The stuff that comes with kids is intense. My husband’s dad slept in the draw of a chest of drawers for the first 6 months of his life, so really you don’t need all the stuff. Start with the basics – roof over head and food – and don’t invest in everything the world thinks you need. The perineal massage tool is a case in point. You can always add things as you go but generally newborns need very little and working it out as you go along can mean you end up with less stuff that works better for your life burden.
Get outta there
The only advice that ever helped was to simply get some fresh air on those days when you are struggling. It doesn’t have to be a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, it can simply be walking down the street and back but feeling imprisoned in your own home isn’t going to help anyone. I was often the slightly unhinged-looking woman in pyjamas wheeling a mewling newborn round the block. When I got stopped by the postman and he said “what a lovely nipper” I felt better about life. Sometimes you’ve just got to lower your expectations of what ‘going out’ means.