You will cry A LOT: 10 things I learned after a decade as a mum

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied 

My eldest son turned 10 this week and with that came the emotional milestone of realising I have been a parent for a decade. 

My once sweet and shy little boy is becoming a young person with big lace-up shoes as well as cool hobbies, friends and ideas all of his own.

I am so proud of him but also a little heartbroken that I am now a source of mild embarrassment in public. 

Being a parent for a decade does not make me a parenting expert, but here are 10 things I have learnt over the years that I wish someone had told me back in 2010.

1. The birth of your child is important but it is just the start of your journey. 

I used to feel incredibly guilty about having a c-section for my first and then second baby. But now I wish I had not worried so much about it, or more importantly placed any value on what other people had to say about it. 

Just like the wedding day in relation to your marriage – the birth is super memorable and important – but only to a point. Your role as a parent is only just beginning so don't sweat the details if you have any birth story guilt.

2. Ask for practical support in the early days of parenting, not gifts.

If someone asks you what you want as a new mum – ask for a lasagne or a voucher for a cleaner. In fact – don't wait to be asked – tell friends and family this is what you NEED. 

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The very best gifts we got came from insightful family members and friends who dropped over with food to fill the freezer with, or coffees and cake and then left us alone.

3. Breastfeeding, dummies, attachment parenting, weaning? Just do what works for you and your baby.

All of these seemingly important decisions in the first couple of years seem so big at the time and you will get some of it really wrong according to the internet and judgmental parents.

You will probably cry about all this stuff - I know I did as it's hard not to feel the mother guilt about everything.

As the months then years pass and you stand and wave your bigger kid off to school, you will wonder why you spent so long crying over the fact that Becky from mums' group shamed you about only breastfeeding for three weeks.  

Love your baby, look after yourself and accept that once you are a mum you cannot agree or please everyone.

4. Sleep deprivation makes you crazy – but it does end. 

I am yet to go through the teenage years but in my decade of experience as a mum, I can tell you that being sleep deprived with a baby (and toddler!) was the hardest time for me and I cried a lot. 

It made me crazy and emotional and there is a reason why it is used as a form of torture – because it is. Prioritise sleep in the early days and if that means your house is a feral mess, then so be it.

It might take longer than you think (sleeping through the night by six weeks is unlikely for most I am sorry to say) but it will get better and when it does, you will feel amazing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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5. Every parenting stage has ups and downs.

That first gummy smile can melt your heart and I look back so fondly over pictures of my chubby baby boys.

But now my heart melts when I see my 10-year-old practice his guitar with passion or do a school speech and be praised for his efforts. 

The hard stuff changes too, from worries about nap times or teething, to issues around friendships and homework.

Every age and stage seems to come with a unique set of ups and downs and I have learnt that while the beautiful bits change, the hardest stuff will also pass eventually. 

6. Find a great parenting community.

Before you move postcodes to get into the 'right' school or pay thousands of dollars, I think that the community you live in and socialise with, is more important than academic record alone. 

We have a great local school and we tried hard to get to know the other kindergarten parents, organised playdates and kept up the social contact outside of school.

We now have this awesome supportive community of families locally that means we can relax about who Toby is hanging out with. Also, on the plus side there are plenty of great mums to have an end of term wine with.

7. Make time for yourself and for time with friends

On the difficult days with young babies and kids you need to get outside in the fresh air, even if it's only for a walk around the block listening to a podcast. Even better, have a walk followed by a coffee with a friend. 

I found it emotionally hard to leave the house sometimes, even if I was leaving my baby with husband Jules. But I always felt better for it and still do and these days I can thankfully go out and not be missed for much longer!

8. Make time your primary relationship when you can.

It can feel hard to leave your baby with someone and at first it was a bit weird – like what do we talk about if not the logistics of baby stuff? 

I get that tiredness can make date nights incredibly unappealing too as I just wanted to sleep at every opportunity. Eventually we found our mojo and have continued to try and squeeze time in for us to talk and laugh - even if it is just a quick coffee date before school pick up. 

9. Scrambled eggs and beans are a very fine dinner option

I remember (not proudly) throwing a plastic dinner plate at the wall in frustration after I slaved over a dinner I saw in a recipe book my son then refused to eat. Rookie error – kids are fussy and even fussier at certain stages of development. 

If you love to cook – do it and please enjoy it. If like me you don't, remember this - dinner has to be served EVERY night until kids leave home so if you serve up baked beans and scrambled eggs a couple of times a week and they're happy – so what?! 

10. Be kind to yourself, your babies and other mums

Parenting is exhausting, relentless and frustrating. Kids will be who they want to be and they will not always do what they're told or eat what they want to eat.

They might not birth in the way you wanted or sleep without a dummy like you wanted but be kind – to them and to yourself and other parents too.

We are all just winging it and working it out as we go and kindness is something we can never have too much of.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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These last 10 years, I have cried, raged, laughed and felt as if my heart might just explode with love for both my boys. 

So, take it from a parent of 10 years, it is bloody hard but it is worth it. 

The best you can do is what is best for you, so feel free to ignore everything I have written and parent however you damn well please.