Everyone loves giving advice… solicited or not and sometimes you just have to smile & nod and take it, because it is given well-meaning & with love, care, support or in the hopes that these pearls of wisdom will actually help you. Those that give them often don’t realize that sometimes the concept “in theory” sounds great, but in reality they just don’t work the way that they were meant!
“Sleep when the baby sleeps” – especially in the early days! This is joke right?? In the beginning, the baby sleeps an hour or so before walking for a feed, nappy change, cuddle, etc.. In those quiet moments when they are sleeping (and not actually physically ON your body) – there is a small window of opportunity to take a shower, put on clean clothes, brush your teeth (and maybe even your hair), make a cup of tea, put in a load of laundry and maybe even just sit down … the last point is normally when the baby starts to stir. Sure, your partner can look after the baby while you nap… but every mother feels a certain pang of guilt for *palming* off their child. Plus, everyone wants to visit in the beginning. When the baby gets older, the naps do get longer but it is also the time when your life starts to return to normalcy and your friends/family have gone back to their own lives as well. Now you get to include grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc and possibly even returning to work full time – which leaves the only feasible option for getting enough sleep as “go to bed by 10pm latest”.
“Make sure you get some exercise” – firstly, exercise release endorphins and helps get your post-baby body back into shape. But my questions are “When? Where? How?”. I barely have time to put my make up on at home before work (sometimes I actually only apply it once I am seated at my desk) and by the time I get home after 5pm, the next chapter begins with dinnertime for Monkey, bath & bed routine and then I can start thinking about dinner for me/us, laundry, etc etc. For those fit mothers who manage to squeeze in 50 squats while doing a load of laundry before 9am, I say *kudo’s* to you – I barely have enough energy to lift the full laundry basket after being awake since 5am & working a full day at the office. The only feasible option for me is going for a walk on the weekend while pushing the stroller (and this is weather dependent) – but that is a start, right?.
“Take time for yourself/Look after yourself” – Maybe it is just me, but I hit a whole new level of guilt when I sit on the couch reading a magazine while the husband does the bath/bed routine by himself (especially when I know he works just as hard as I do outside of the home and definitely pulls his own weight when it comes to looking after monkey (every weekday from 12.30-5.30pm, he is daddy day-care) plus sharing household chores). “My time” is when monkey is finally asleep (8pm latest) – which is also the time that I normally start doing laundry, cook a meal (rarely during the week), tidy up, catch up on communication with friends/family, blogging.. .so suddenly it is 10pm and I am sitting on the couch too tired to lift the remote control to change channels and also too tired to get my lazy bum off to bed. But sometimes just sitting down is actually looking after yourself… and sometimes watching 3 consecutive episodes of “The Good wife” with a glass of wine is taking time, while the laundry waits until tomorrow. (These are my feasible options and I am sticking to them ;))
“Share the load” – as already mentioned, HIM already does pull his weight in terms of our family and the responsibilities involved. We both work full time jobs (his is at night and weekends while mine is a more conventional 8-5 desk job). We both do chores around the house – washing dishes, washing laundry, folding & packing it away, cooking, etc. We both get up when she cries in the middle of the night or is sick. The thing is – having a child definitely increases the amount of work required to keep a family home running effectively (more laundry, more cooking, more washing up, more running around and definitely more tidying up and cleaning!). The only feasible option is that we keep things easier by ordering our groceries online and making use of dinner delivery services on the nights that we just can’t be arsed to cook (see my post here).
“Talk to someone” – seriously, nobody (except my mother) wants to hear me moaning about how tired I am, how the baby slept or about the colour/consistency of the poop nappies (amongst other things). Also, people tend to “misunderstand” venting for not being happy. I am happy… I am deliriously happy and in love with life, my husband, my baby girl and I would not change our life for anything. But sometimes, it is really (really, really) difficult – not getting enough sleep, consistently having spit up or snot on your clothes, not getting any alone time with your significant other or even with yourself, having to decline invitations, etc . The only feasible option is to have a few mom friends who smile & nod when you roll your eyes and talk about how difficult it is to try to feed monkey now that she is at the age that she wants to feed herself (even though the food goes everywhere) and how you want to scream *Go to Sleep* at 3am… and they also understand how much you love this little person… Thank God for moms, partners and mommy friends (plus the handful of non-mommy friends that I have, who also sit, listen & understand! Not to mention Whatsapp mommy groups!)
What other advice have you been given that has made you laugh as a mother??