You do NOT need to:
1. Feel guilty about anything. So what if you’ve been in your PJs for two days straight. So what if your older child is watching Netflix or the iPad all day. So what if no one’s eaten anything more nutritious than a handful of raisins they found on the floor. The first three months (at least) are about SURVIVAL. Your survival and theirs. You do whatever you need to do to get through the day. Because when you have a small baby in tow, getting through the day is totally enough.
2. Function. In any way, shape or form. You do not need to be firing on all cylinders. You have nothing to prove. To yourself or the outside world. With baby number one, I remember going for a long walk three days after giving birth and feeling on top of the world, like I’d conquered it. ‘A baby won’t stop me!‘ I thought. On the way back, my stitches started to pull, I could barely get back up the hill and I felt like a bit of an idiot. The sofa is your best friend at the moment.
3. Organise stuff. A new mum, who’s probably had less than 10 hours sleep in a week, recently said to me she needed to sort her maternity clothes out. I can see how when you’re sitting around the house all day, this stuff preoccupies you. I remember it well. Noticing the chipped paint. The mess that seemed to occupy every dusty corner. The piles of crap I just never found a moment to sort. But now is NOT the time. And to make you feel tons better, almost two years on, my maternity clothes are still sitting in a box underneath the attic waiting to be sold/donated/stored in the attic for the rest of time. At least I practice what I preach, right?
4. Do chores. This goes hand in hand with number two. No one cares how messy your house is. If you haven’t bleached your toilet for a week. If the washing up is still sitting on the side. YOU HAVE A SMALL BABY. The rest of the world can see this but when you’re in a sleep-deprived fog, it’s hard for you to see it yourself. You feel that it’s a sign you’re not coping. That you’re not capable. It’s not important, trust me. Get someone to help you with the chores. Hire a cleaner for the next couple of months if you’re really that bothered. But let it go. You and your baby. That’s what we care about.
5. Justify yourself. You are the most important person in the world right now. And anyone who doesn’t get that by putting unfair expectations on you or pushing their own agendas can do one. You do what works for you and your family and you don’t justify yourself to anyone. Got it?
6. Question yourself. None of us know what we’re doing with a new baby. I’ve had three of the joyful little bundles and each one has made me doubt myself. Don’t worry about routines or feeding patterns or why your baby suddenly wants to eat ALL of the time. Remember that glorious fourth trimester and just go with it for the first few months. You’ll find it much easier to enjoy (tolerate) if you’re not driving yourself mad with questions that are mostly impossible to answer.
7. Diet. I really hope this one is obvious but in case you’re thinking about losing weight, don’t. When you’ve had two hours sleep, cake is all you’ve got. The weight will come off gradually. Don’t make yourself miserable going without the things you fancy. You’ve just done nine months of that, right?
8. Go it alone. Being a new mum can be lonely, no matter what round you’re on. We haven’t forgotten you, I promise. If we haven’t checked in recently though and you’re suddenly feeling overwhelmed, lonely or in need of some help, please ask. We’ll be there in a heartbeat to do whatever we can do to get you through these early months. We know what it’s like and we’re right behind you.
Keep going, you’re doing brilliantly.