That elusive superhero Super Mum
There is a myth out there among the media and naively unsuspecting people with no kids. Fanfare, trumpets, jazzy jingle….. “Super Mum”!!
With a lipstick gleam and a wiggle of her size 10 jean-clad bottom, she cooks three course meals that are both appetising and nutritious faster than a speeding bullet, overcomes piles of environmentally friendly cloth nappies in a single bound, and dammit, her house looks like it came out of ‘House and Garden’ days after her baby is born – are those freshly baked cookies she’s offering you with the real coffee? Don’t you just hate her already!
Okay, wake up and smell the milk vomit – she doesn’t exist. Shall I say that again, she….does…not…exist. It is best to mourn her loss now and let her ascend to the big garden in the sky before you break your back trying to live up to her unrealistically set standards.
So whose standards do you strive for?
In a word, yours. Each of us is different, and just as we live diverse and unique lives before the birth of our beautiful darlings, you will need to find the balance and equilibrium that suits your personality and family lifestyle.
One of the keys is to understand what about your pre-baby life was important to you. Was it the time you made to set and reach physical fitness goals? Was it the long late nights spent out on the town with friends? Or the quiet nights curled up on the couch with your partner? Was it intellectual pursuit or financial freedom? Having a baby is, among other things, a huge commitment of time. So once, you’ve understood what was important to you pre-baby, try and find ways to fit that in.
But it’s important to remember is that there are still only 24 hours in the day. And if you are adding in a baby (let’s face it, feeding alone in the early days can take upwards of 6 hours out of your day just for starters), some things will have to be let go.
Try some different things, whatever works for you and your family really. While you’re experimenting and working out the best way to structure your new life, so are all the other new mums that you might know. Remember, they all only have 24 hours in the day too. So if you constantly find yourself thinking, ‘she had fresh baking when we visited, and those beds looked newly made up’, remember, she also only has 24 hours in her day. You can never know about other people’s life in as much detail, but chances are, she’s giving up time spent on other things to do it. And maybe house cleaning is the thing that makes her happiest. But if it’s not your thing, make time for your baby, and time for the things that do make you happy. Fit the rest in around those and feel GOOD about that.
On the theme of 24 hours…
…it might be useful to look at the practical aspects of the sheer time involved with parenting your tiny darling. Now this is based on OUR experiences, so don’t be worried if you are spending your time differently, it’s just to help illustrate that being Mum is a full-time job!
Feeding & winding baby – 8 hours
Changing & dressing baby – 2 hours
Settling baby – 2.5 hours at least! (I remember one epic stint in the early days from 12 midnight to five in the morning.)
YIKES, that is just looking after baby! What about caring for yourself…
Sleeping (broken up) – 7 hours (if you’re lucky)
Eating & preparing meals – 1.5 hour (if you remember)
Showering, dressing, brushing teeth etc – 1 hour (if you’re organised)
Okay, so that’s about 22 hours down. So that leaves us about 2 hours in the day to: spend time with partner, family, friends (all those visitors!), do the housework, washing, groceries, talk on the phone, read a book, sex, watch TV, tend to the garden, pay the bills, exercise, paint your toe nails, check your emails, go for a walk, play with baby, get the car serviced, go to the doctor….
Hmm, so are you getting the picture…
Have realistic expectations about how you are going to spend your time in the early months. Recognise that the first few months are the first few months. Baby and you will adjust and gradually things like feeding will take up slightly less time. Once your baby is a more efficient feeder and less prone to bouts of inconsolable crying, things will ease up a bit. Also, don’t underestimate the effect that fatigue can have on your will to do anything more than roll out of bed and shrug on your dressing gown. Sleep deprivation can be responsible for a lack of energy, feeling groggy and irritable, trouble concentrating or remembering things, and nodding off at unplanned times. Now is certainly the time to cut yourself a break.