Tag Archives: new mum

Be a kick a*** parenting team

By Amy Ransom on September 20, 2017 , 1 Comment

Earlier this week on Instagram and Facebook, I mentioned the lovely farmer who bought The New Mum’s Notebook for his wife, whilst on his tractor harvesting (it’s now on Amazon for a ludicrous £8). As well as the couple with the four month old baby, who I sat with in the pub on Sunday. Both examples of couples showing support and consideration towards one another, during the most challenging time of their lives. Parenthood. Eight years, three kids and one less husband on, I was totally impressed by this. So I thought I’d write something about being a kick a*** parenting team. (You can, of course, ignore this and think, ‘Well, what does she possibly know?’ She doesn’t even have a husband. But I hope you don’t and instead find it helpful.) **Not just for new parents. May also be useful if you’re older parents who have lost their way**

  1. Be kind to one another. This tops the list every time, for me. It’s simple. It’s important. It can make up for a multitude of ‘sins’. To be honest? It doesn’t really matter if your other half never takes out the bin and always forgets to empty the dishwasher. If they tell you often that you’re doing a good job and they couldn’t do what you do, that’s enough, in my book. Partners, I’m not saying it’s easy for you, either. I know we can become a bit insane when we have babies. We’re really tired, not always sure what we’re doing and often, this baby lark is REALLY f*cking dull and relentless (yes, new mums, it’s totally ok to admit that). If you let us make it all about us for a while, when that baby comes along, if you remind us you love us and we’re awesome, I promise you, we’ll remember it. For the rest of time. Also, thanks for going to work and bringing the odd bag of giant chocolate buttons home.
  2. Take out the bin. OK, so I lied a bit above. But it’s just really thoughtful when someone does something that you don’t then have to do. It’s always the little things, right?
  3. Have sex. I don’t mean immediately. Obviously. Wait until you’ve left the hospital at least (joke). Seriously though, whilst you both need to feel ready, if you wait until your ‘baby’ is at university, you’ve waited too long. Sex connects. It’s what got you into this mess in the first place, remember? (PS some couples notice a direct correlation between the amount of times the bin gets put out and the amount of times they put out. Just saying.)
  4. Don’t compete. Oldest parenting cliche in the book. But probably the most played out. Don’t. Go. There. You’re both tired. You’re both frazzled. You both dislike one another a bit (a lot) of the time. There are no winners here. It’s just a really crap game that makes you both feel lousy. Get out the Scrabble instead, if you really need to do something competitive.
  5. Diffuse everything with laughter. Tricky, this one. Especially when you’re finding it hard to find anything funny. But laughing is up there with sex. It connects. Don’t take it all too seriously. Parenthood won’t always be this hard or intense.
  6. Be on each other’s side. No one else is ever going to get your child like you both do. There is no one else who will love your child as much as you both do. Trust me. So bond over how much you love him or her. Bond over how much you wish they’d just go to flipping sleep, already. Bond over how irritating it is that they’ve just had a meltdown in the middle of Tescos. But be on each other’s side. Never blame one another. You made this person together. There IS no one else to blame. (Sorry to break that to you.)
  7. Use banter carefully. If you’re a couple who liked to banter BC (before children), this can seriously backfire when you’ve had a baby. New (and old, tired) mums can be really sensitive and sometimes, we don’t get the ‘jokes’. They feel more like digs.
  8. Go out. I’m not even going to say the phrase, ‘Date night’. It makes me want to hurl. BUT. Going out together is important. Don’t be that couple who wake up one day, realise that their kids are teenagers and they invested so little time in each other, they don’t have anything to talk about. I have friends with kids in very happy relationships because they always make time for one another and it shows. It really, really shows. If you don’t want to go out/don’t have a babysitter, have dinner indoors together. Bottle of wine, conversation and no TV or phones. Oh and don’t wait for the perfect time, or you’ll be waiting forever. You deserve to put each other first every once in a while. Partners often need this more than mums (from what they’ve told me) – to remember that they still mean something and to have their other half to themselves, for a change. No one said it has to be ALL about babies now, just because you’re parents.
  9. Remember why you liked one another. Assuming that you did, of course and didn’t just create a life after twelve pints, four bottles of wine and 10 jagermeisters. No judgement. Focusing on that time before kids is a really good way of seeing yourselves through the challenging times. Go one better, and remember the little gestures you did for one another and reinstate them, occasionally.
  10. Get a bit drunk together. It’s fun. It releases tension. Unless you get so drunk that you do no. 3 and get up the duff again. Oops.
  11. Love the hell out of each other. No explanation needed. Most, if not all, of my friends have struggled at some point in their relationships post kids. But pretty much all of them are still together, because they love each other. Over and above everything else.

Do share this with your partner, new parents or anyone else who could do with a helping hand. There’s a whole chapter in The New Mum’s Notebook on relationships, as well as eleven other months (chapters) to see you through that first year of parenthood. On offer on Amazon now for £8 (usually £16.99).

What I’d tell my first-time mum self…

Eight years ago this week, I became a mother. FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME. I look back now at photos of my younger mum self (not just that hilarious post-birth picture) and, beneath the love and contentment, I can still feel how green I was. How unsure I was. I remember that first night at home with her like it was yesterday. ‘What on earth do we do with her? Can we put her down, do you think?‘ Eight years, three kids and no nappies later (yes, new mums, it really does happen one day), this is what I’d tell my first-time mum self (if she’d have listened).

‘It’s going to be ok.’

Yesterday morning, I dropped the boy off at nursery, the nursery I will have been at for eight years by the time he starts school. (Don’t think about the money, don’t think about the money. Haha.)

Sarah, who co-owns the nursery, opened the door and we started talking about The New Mum’s Notebook. What the next Notebook is going to be. And she reminded me how far I’ve come as a mother. ‘Do you remember,‘ she said, ‘when you first started here and you told us that Beaver was a Gina Ford baby and had to nap at this exact time in complete darkness and silence? You left and we thought, how on earth are we going to do this in a nursery environment?’

It made me laugh. Because I do remember that. Vividly. I remember my first-time mum self well. The one who was so scared of things going wrong. Who once shouted at her own mum for daring to look under the muslin whilst her baby was sleeping. The one who felt the need to control EVERYTHING (and foolishly thought she could).

I want to go back and give her a hug. Tell her that it will be ok. That the world won’t implode if things don’t go to plan. That there are NO PLANS when you have a small baby in tow.

There is love. And there is cake.

And that is all you need.

‘Stop worrying.’

My first-time mum self did a good enough job, as good as she could. After all, she didn’t know any better.

But she missed out on some stuff along the way. She worried about spoiling her newborn. She could have cuddled her more. Indulged herself in that intense and beautiful feeling of a new baby on her chest. And forgotten about the ridiculous things she’d picked up elsewhere, like needing to stimulate a tiny person who already had all the stimulation she needed. The warmth and security of her mum.

The thing is, my first-time mum self was lucky. Really lucky. Because she got to do it all again. Twice. To have another two children, who mellowed her a little more each time they came.

The second baby reminded her that she could do this. Because she’d already done it once before.

But, it wasn’t until the third baby that the penny really dropped. Maybe it was the knowledge that this baby was her last and that made him more precious. Maybe it was the frailty of her mental health and her need to feel that newborn on her chest. To feel that closeness, that warmth, those two hearts beating as if they were one.

Because when she felt that, she felt less desperate and alone.

‘Slow down.’

And the crazy thing is that, despite being unwell for so much of those early months, her third time was a charm, indeed.

The fear of going out and the safety she felt when she was tucked up in bed with her new baby and a boxset made her slow down for the first time in years. For the first time in her life as a mother.

In that respect, PND was both a curse and a blessing. Because, when she started to get well again, she had learned a lesson, albeit the hard way.

She had learned to slow down. To catch the moment. That it would be ok. All of it. That the world wouldn’t implode if things didn’t go to plan. Because things hadn’t gone to plan. They had veered so far from any plan a new mum would ever make.

It’s a good job then, that there are no plans when you have a small baby in tow,‘ she thought.

‘There is love. And there is cake.

And that is all I need.’

(It’s going to be ok.)

If you’re a new mum and you liked this post, you might like The New Mum’s Notebook. 304 pages of love and reassurance (and reminders to eat cake). Enter NEWMUM10 at checkout to get 10% off.

Dear New Mum, I see you…

Dear New Mum,

It’s been a while since I wrote. I’m sorry for my silence. How are you doing?

I hope that today is a GOOD day. That you maybe got some sleep last night. If you didn’t, did you remember to be extra kind to yourself? Did you eat the cake? Did you watch the box set? Did you make a point of noticing something you did WELL?

It’s funny. This motherhood lark. Eight years ago, I joined the ranks. I was unprepared, overwhelmed and tried to control every little thing. I thought that as long as everything was in order, I would be ok. I would be a good mother. This worked on the days when everything went to plan. But often it didn’t. And actually, even when it did, the sheer fear of it falling apart left me feeling frazzled, confused and a bit low.

Eight years and three kids later and I am such a different mother. My third child has undoubtedly had the best of me. He’s so lucky. No Gina Ford for him. Just sleepovers in my bed. And understanding. And ice lollies for breakfast. Until recently, I thought that the years must have worn my parenting style down. That the third child must have worn me down. That my often chaotic, disorganised approach to life and parenting was born out of tiredness, laziness even and not wanting to fight too many battles. The other day, I realised this isn’t how it is at all. It’s not that I am chaotic or disorganised. It’s that I am able to choose what is important. What needs attending to. And what can wait. Basically? Everything can wait. Apart from my kids. Because these small people are growing up right under my nose, faster than I can bear. And I don’t want to miss any more moments than I already have. (Well, apart from the tantrumy moments. I could happily miss those.)

Finally, I have perspective. It’s all around me, every day. It’s in my eldest, almost 8 year old, who shows me how quick kids grow up. It’s in my middly who reminds me, just in case I forget. And it’s in my youngest, who has taught me to appreciate, rather than wish him (and the girls) away. Next year, my summer born boy will go to school. NEXT YEAR. There is no time to wish any of him away.

Why am I telling you this? Because it’s impossible to have this insight when you’re a new mum. Only time and experience can give it to us. But I want you to have just a little. If you can. Because I think it might help you when you feel like you’re drowning in those demanding early years. The hard moments can feel so long. So relentless. So endless. And they are. I haven’t forgotten. I see you, new mum. I do. You need so much physical energy. All the lifting alone. Of babies. Of buggies. Of SO MUCH STUFF. There’s always someone touching you. It feels as though there is no personal space.

Then, one day, almost overnight, your kids are at school. They come home from school and instead of hanging off of your leg, they go and play in their room. You have maybe 15 minutes to yourself before someone has hit someone else over the head with a gorilla (not a real one) and you have to intervene. You are not needed ALL OF THE TIME. And yet, you never ever saw this day coming. That your children would become less dependent on you in certain ways. How could they ever need you less? It just doesn’t seem possible when they are so new and pink and tiny. This perspective changes everything. Like when the toddler behaves illogically (again) and you find yourself smiling rather than despairing. Because you know this behaviour won’t last forever. It will pass. And turn into something else. Your almost eight year old is living proof of that. So is your five year old.

There is no time to wish any of them away.

(That said, please know that if you do find yourself wishing the days away, it’s perfectly normal and ok. Being a new mum is HARD but, one day, probably when you’re least expecting it, suddenly it will become easier. I am living proof of that.)

Much love to you AMAZING new mum.

 

 

You can also follow me on Instagram and Facebook. You might also want to treat yourself/drop heavy hints for someone else to treat you to The New Mum’s Notebook, sanity saving journal for new mums. I self-published it and Penguin Random House/Hutchinson have just bought the rights!

Funny s*** new mums do.

By Amy Ransom on January 17, 2017 , 1 Comment

The other day I found a diary. That I barely remember writing. It’s full of entries to my first-born, documenting our first year together. It’s going to be serialised by The Daily Mail. Oh, hang on a minute. No, it’s not because it’s the DULLEST READ EVER. Full of crazy s*** I did and how much I loved her. Like every day, HOW MUCH I LOVED HER. No way do I remember enjoying motherhood anywhere near that much. Clearly I was a) sleep deprived b) hormonal and c) a total bloody liar. Anyway, I shared one particularly embarrassing post and lots of mums told me the ‘funny’ stuff they did with their firstborns. Here’s a summary. If you’re a first time mum sitting there fretting about Every. Single. Thing (as we all did), I hope this helps you chill out a bit. Because there are some things you really don’t need to do. Like ever.

1. THE SCENARIO: Roasting a chicken JUST for the stock at 11.30 PM at night for your newly weaned baby. (Then somehow finding the energy to write about it in your very sad diary.) Who knew you can get low salt stock cubes for this very purpose? (Everyone, but you.)
THE FUTURE: They will reward you by growing up, developing the sweetest tooth and eating all the E numbers they can lay their hands on. Whilst their sibling(s) who were weaned on dirt, air, party rings and whole (not low salt) Oxo cubes (eaten raw whilst you were too busy doing something else), turn their noses up at the sweet stuff and would much rather have a satsuma.
THE LEARNING: It’s going to be ok, whatever you do (or don’t do).

2. THE SCENARIO: Stimulating your baby in ridiculous ways. You spend most of the first year worrying about how to stimulate your baby. Are you doing enough with her? Reading enough? Talking to her enough? So you buy 34 Baby Einstein DVDs from eBay and convince yourself that she really enjoys watching one before her lunchtime nap (according to the very sad diary).
THE FUTURE: By the time you have more kids, you’ll be so exhausted and distracted you’ll only think about stimulants for you, not stimulating them. They will have a better vocabulary than you. Know their colours. And pretty much have been raised by Netflix.
THE LEARNING: You’re all the stimulation your baby needs. I promise. Oh ok, and maybe Netflix.

3. THE SCENARIO: Peeling things that were never meant to be peeled. Like grapes. Because, well, no reason really. It just feels like something a really good mum would do. (PS do cut grapes lengthways before serving, as they’re a choking hazard. The peeling bit has no benefits whatsoever though. Don’t say this blog isn’t useful haha.)
THE FUTURE: Not peeling things that were meant to be peeled. Because you’re so darn tired and your toddler is already halfway through the satsuma, skin and all, so what’s the point now?
THE LEARNING: You’re a good mum regardless of all this shizzle. You always have been.

4. THE SCENARIO: Sterilising EVERYTHING that might go near your baby. Like putting boiling water in the saucepan before putting, erm, fresh boiling water in it to cook the broccoli.
THE FUTURE: Eating actual animal poo.
THE LEARNING: Your baby is far more resilient than you think. Try not to obsess over their welfare. You’re doing a great job.

5. THE SCENARIO: Wondering if your baby is going to be a social pariah. Your baby/toddler bites another child at nursery. You have sleepless nights worrying that she’s going to be a social outcast whilst googling, ‘Is my baby a psychopath?’
THE FUTURE: She grows up to be funny, kind and aware that it’s not ok to go around biting people.
THE LEARNING: It’s a developmental phase. And one that most babies/toddlers go through. Seriously, don’t worry. It will pass.

6. THE SCENARIO: Thinking every mum is a better mum than you. Worrying that you’re not helping your baby to develop enough. Because Little Billy is already using a beaker AND holding it himself and your baby isn’t. Feeling out of your depth because all the other mothers seem to know more mum hacks than you.
THE FUTURE: One day soon, no one will give a s*** about this stuff. Or even remember it. Or remember anything, come to that.
THE LEARNING: We’re all out of our depth most of the time. You just learn to ride the wave of motherhood and chill the f*** out. Also? There’s no better mum for your child than you.

I really hope this helps you see what a great job you’re doing. I know when you’re in it, all this stuff is so overwhelming and it absolutely feels like you need to take the hardest path in order to do the best by your baby. But take it from us old mums, you really, really don’t. Happy mum. Happy baby. More reassurance available in The New Mum’s Notebook, sanity saving journal for new mums (it will definitely stop you roasting a chicken at 11.30 PM at night). Available online, priced £20.

‘A baby won’t change me’ (until it does)

This morning I posted a picture on my Facebook page with some words about the importance of finding mum friends. Your #mummassive, I called them. I was having a moment, remembering my NCT friends and how I couldn’t have survived the first year of motherhood without them. One mum commented that in an ideal world we’d all have that massive but a lot don’t, despite best effort. Motherhood can be lonely, she said (I know this, first hand). A lot of other mums liked her comment. And it made me wonder, am I being naive? Are there more mums out there alone than together, even though they’ve tried their best not to be? Are we spouting words about ‘finding mum friends’ that are just unrealistic and impossible to follow because some days we’re struggling to remember who we even are?

‘She’s having a baby!’

The first line I ever wrote when I started writing The New Mum’s Notebook was this. ‘Having a baby is wonderful. It can also be overwhelming.‘ I couldn’t think of any other way to say it. And if I had to sum up becoming a mum again, right now, this is what I would still say. I would say it every time a woman has a baby, no matter how many she has.

Having a baby is overwhelming.

(Let’s cut straight to the chase.)

Hanging on for dear life.

Before we become mums, we say stuff like, ‘A baby won’t change me. I’m still going to be me and not lose my sense of self.

I remember feeling this. I was petrified of losing my identity when I became a mum. So petrified that, when my first daughter was five months old, I wrote that list with 17 things on that I was going to do to be a good mum and STILL be myself. I also had an actual five year plan with things like ‘having a variety of hobbies,’ ‘learning new skills,’ and ‘playing the piano.’ What on earth did I think motherhood was going to be? I am now two years past that five year plan and I can tell you, I haven’t so much as touched a piano. And the hobbies? Well, I almost went to Zumba, once.

Does that count?

Who am I now?

So, despite our best intentions, motherhood shakes us to our cores.

It changes us. It makes us doubt ourselves. It makes us lose our confidence and forget how to interact with the rest of the world. I have friends who had huge careers and social lives before having kids that, some seven years on, are only just starting to find their feet again. And put on a nice pair of shoes.

I think this is why Instagram is so full of mums doing (great) stuff. To support their families, yes. To find a way of flexible working, yes. But more than anything? To hang onto themselves and some sense of who they were. Who they are.

And who they will be in the future.

I remember feeling lost.

So, when at times we’re struggling with our own sense of identity, I can see why me suggesting mums go out there and forge new friendships, when they’re often at their most vulnerable, sounds a bit idyllic and as overwhelming as the task of motherhood itself.

And it’s easy for me to write it, as I emerge from the baby bubble, now that baby no. 3 is almost two and a half. (It’s probably why I’m becoming one of those really irritating people feeling all nostalgic about it. If I ever write, ‘Enjoy them while they’re young,’ or ‘You’ll miss it when they’re older,’ please report me to Facebook. Or just go ahead and shoot me.)

But could I have done it when I was in the thick of it? Could I have put myself out there when I was feeling that intense sense of loneliness? When I was feeling forgotten. When I was feeling like I didn’t really have anything to say.

Possibly not. But I still believe we must try.

We are (probably) all in the same boat.

Mums have often said to me that groups they have tried to infiltrate are cliquey. And yes, there are some groups and women that may appear ‘cliquey.’ But the majority of women are not like this. The majority of women, of mums (new and old), are like me. And you. Feeling a bit shy or vulnerable or desperately trying to find those feet they once walked on.

Many of the new friends I’ve made since having kids have been in my lowest moments, when I wasn’t in a state to worry about what someone else might think. The mum I barely knew whose shoulder I cried (snotted) on. The mum who could see I was struggling and reached out. The mum who was warm and kind when I needed it. I hope I’ve done the same for others. These friendships might last a year or they might last forever, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that we open up. If we can. And reach out to one another. Otherwise, how do we ever know what boat someone else is really in? How do we know if they’re standoffish, painfully shy or just worrying they’re messing the whole thing up? It takes courage, which you might not think you have. But you have it, you do. And if you do open up and it comes to nothing, don’t give up. Move on. Try again. Your effort is never in vain.

Because, even if it seems they weren’t ready to receive it, to someone else, you have just been that mum who was warm and kind when they needed it.

And they’ll remember that forever, believe me.

Sorry for the mush. Sorry for the idyllic thoughts. But being a bit of an oversharer, I’ve learned that good things come when we talk to one another. I know we’re not all like this (thank god haha) and I’d love to hear your experiences. Tell me I’m wrong and idyllic (and possibly had too much sherry), I don’t mind at all! In the meantime, lots of love to ALL of you mums out there. You’re doing an amazing job and one day it won’t feel quite so suffocating, I promise.

1400877817024713111213

 

The 12 Days of Motherhood (best sung loudly)

To get us all into the Christmas spirit and celebrate the launch of The New Mum’s Notebook Advent Calendar (24 days of fabulous gifts with some amazing, exclusive discounts), here’s a modified version of The 12 Days of Christmas. For all you new mums out there. And all us old mums who still remember those first 12 rollercoaster days of motherhood, oh so vividly. Or have completely blocked them out, because, well, we can barely remember what we did yesterday. Best sung to the tune of the original. In public. With lots of people staring at you, wondering what on earth you’re doing. Altogether now, ‘WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? WE’RE SLEEP DEPRIVED, DON’T YOU KNOW?’

On the First Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Second Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Third Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
Ouch! My boobs hurt.
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Fourth Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
Why am I crying?
Ouch! My boobs hurt
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Fifth Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
This is full on.
Why am I crying?
Ouch! My boobs hurt
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Sixth Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
I can sort of do this.
This is full on.
Why am I crying?
Ouch! My boobs hurt
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Seventh Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
When will I sleep?
I can sort of do this.
This is full on.
Why am I crying?
Ouch! My boobs hurt
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Eighth Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
I need chocolate cake.
When will I sleep?
I can sort of do this.
This is full on.
Why am I crying?
Ouch! My boobs hurt
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Ninth Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
Tell me it gets easier
I need chocolate cake.
When will I sleep?
I can sort of do this.
This is full on.
Why am I crying?
Ouch! My boobs hurt
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Tenth Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
My midwife’s signed me off!
Tell me it gets easier
I need chocolate cake.
When will I sleep?
I can sort of do this.
This is full on.
Why am I crying?
Ouch! My boobs hurt
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Eleventh Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
It’s ok that I’m knackered
My midwife’s signed me off!
Tell me it gets easier
I need chocolate cake.
When will I sleep?
I can sort of do this.
This is full on.
Why am I crying?
Ouch! My boobs hurt
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

On the Twelfth Day of Motherhood a new mum said to me
I can blooming do this.
It’s ok that I’m knackered
My midwife’s signed me off!
Tell me it gets easier
I need chocolate cake.
When will I sleep?
I can sort of do this.
This is full on.
Why am I crying?
Ouch! My boobs hurt
What do I do?
And I’d murder some toast and a cup of tea

(And I said to her, you CAN blooming do this. Keep going new mum. You’re AMAZING. And here’s that well earned toast and a cup of tea.)

Follow me on Instagram to get daily notifications of our Advent Calendar and grab those discounts. We’ve got some REALLY exciting brands and gifts to share with you from small businesses. And don’t forget our very own Notebook! The New Mum’s Notebook is the perfect gift and stocking filler for all mums-to-be and new mums this Christmas. Happy 1st December!

How to survive your first Christmas as New Parents

By Amy Ransom on November 27, 2016 , 1 Comment

Being a new mum and dad at Christmas is lovely. But it can also be hard. Christmas is a pressured time without the demands of a new baby. Add a newborn, hormonal/knackered new mum and a tired new dad treading on eggshells into the equation and you could have a recipe for tears rather than turkey. So I’ve come up with a list to help you survive your first Christmas as parents (with as few tears as possible).

Some advice for both of you.

  1. Lower your expectations. This goes for everything once you become parents but is especially true at Christmas when the pressure’s on, emotions are heightened and you have extended family’s expectations to deal with too. Keep it low key. Remember you’ll have a baby to look after/feed/get up in the night with and make things as simple as possible during the festive period. It’s not going to be like it was last year because, well, the baby thing.
  2. Put yourselves first. Maybe you do usually alternate Christmas at each other’s families. Maybe you always host. Maybe you go out for dinner. You do not have to do any of these things this year. Your first Christmas as a little family will feel very special. Because it is. Now is the time to be selfish and do what you both want to do (don’t let family put pressure on you to do what they want). If you can’t agree and you end up getting into a big row about it (which, let’s face it, so many couples do at this time of year anyway) try and come to a compromise. That said, I’m a big believer that new mums need looking after in the early, most vulnerable weeks and the most important thing is that she feels comfortable wherever she is. Being a new mum at Christmas can be a bit rubbish when everyone else is getting sozzled on mulled wine and sherry. So maybe this year isn’t the year to go trekking off to family just because you always do. New Dad, protect her, put her first and listen to her (no matter how irrational or unreasonable you think she’s being). It’s just one year. And she’ll remember it forever.
  3. Try to be a team. This really goes back to the above. Try to stay on each other’s side. You don’t need added complications at this stage, when your relationship is very likely feeling fragile already. You two and your baby. You guys come first. The End.
  4. Buy thoughtful gifts for each other. You’ve given each other the greatest gift of all (Hallmark card anyone!) but, amidst all the transition, a thoughtful gift can go a long way to saying, ‘You’re still important to me too. I care.‘ The wrong gift, on the other hand, can bring on those tears again. A friend recently told me he had NO idea what to buy his ‘new mum other half’ at Christmas. Obviously I directed him towards The New Mum’s Notebook. But there are lots of other things that make thoughtful gifts for a new mum at Christmas too (check out The New Mum’s Notebook Advent Calendar, launching next week with a daily gift suggestion and even some exclusive discounts). New mums tend to like something pampering rather than practical, to remind them they’re still in there somewhere. Likewise, a new dad may be struggling a bit with his new role (and may even have been shouted at a few times for things he doesn’t really understand), ahem. So buy him something you know he’d like. Something that says, ‘I do still love you, even if I do occasionally come across as a crazy and unhinged b**** sometimes.’

Some advice for New Dads.

  1. Buy her a ‘Mummy’s First Christmas’ card. Unless me and all of my friends are psychopaths (which we could well be), New Dads, THIS is a must. Your first Christmas as a mum is emotional. And nothing is more important than a card which reads something like, ‘To My Mummy at Christmas.‘ We want to see those words up in lights. MUMMY. My first Christmas as a mum, poor Daddy Pig got utterly confused and thoughtfully bought our daughter a card saying ‘Baby’s First Christmas.‘ No card for me. I cried. For about five minutes. In front of my whole family. I know. It’s bonkers. I can look back now and see that, but at the time it was so important to me. (Since then, I’ve had a precautionary three ‘Mummy’ cards from each of the kids for EVERY national holiday, even Easter. I’m drowning in the things. Be careful what you wish for, eh?)
  2. Take over Christmas dinner. One of my friends had a 12 day old baby on Christmas Day. A few days before this, her other half offered to cook the Christmas dinner (something he’s done ever since), after she went to the shops with her six day old baby and returned with a load of random stuff and not the parsnips she went out for. She said this took a HUGE pressure off of her. So, if you do usually host (but don’t usually cook) or you decide that it would be easier to stay at home and have family come to you, a gesture like this goes a long way. And stops everyone eating crumpets topped with Brussel sprouts because you let a sleep-deprived, foggy new mum do the food shop. Better still, buy it all ready done! (Cook are doing a meal for 8 for £110.)

Some advice for New Mums.

  1. It’s normal to feel out of control. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, if your other half is driving you crazy, if you’re just stressed about all the ‘what ifs’ of Christmas and feeling out of control, DON’T WORRY. This is all completely normal. At the same time, a lot of what you’re feeling will be magnified by hormones, sleep deprivation and the sheer responsibility of looking after your new baby. This is not to take anything away from what you’re feeling. It’s just to say that your other half probably isn’t trying to drive you mad or make suggestions, which seem insensitive to you. It’s simply a steep learning curve for you both. (And he’s possibly a little scared of saying the wrong thing/doing the wrong thing/breathing.)

Finally.

When all else fails, remember. It’s only Christmas. It’s supposed to be joyous and Noelly, but a lot of the time it’s just stressful. So, when it’s all getting on top of you, tell yourselves that most people are feeling the same and they don’t have a new baby in tow. Then look down at that little bald head, grasp those tiny fingers and remind yourselves you’ve got everything that matters right there.

You two and your baby.

‘Old’ mums and dads, what would you add? Also, this weekend is PINK WEEKEND where you can buy The New Mum’s Notebook with 25% off. Ends Monday 28 November at 23.59. To join in our New Mum Advent Calendar simply follow me on Instagram and we’ll give you lots of ideas for Mum-To-Be and New Mum gifts and some lovely, exclusive discounts from some fabulous brands. (Sorry Dads, we’ll do one for you next year.)

You’re a new mum (no matter what round)

Since launching The New Mum’s Notebook, I’ve been asked a lot if it’s only for first time mums. And I always say, ‘No, it’s for ALL new mums.‘ It’s interesting how we perceive the phrase, ‘new mum.’ We shouldn’t only be talking about first time mums. We should be talking about all new mums. Whether it’s baby number one, two or six! Because every baby is new and every time is new. You’re a new mum no matter what round you’re on.

It’s never a walk in the park.

I’ve said many times before that I don’t think we support new mums very well in our society. I think this is true of first time mums and I especially think it’s true of second, third and sixth time mums who pretty much get left to their own devices as soon as the baby is out. You only have to look at the amount of gifts and cards you get from baby number one onwards.

There’s some sort of illogical rationale that because you’ve done this motherhood lark before, you’re some sort of expert and each time you do it (again) will be easier, less shocking, a walk in the park. Yet the complete irony is that once you’re onto multiple children, each time you reproduce you have even more kids to look after.

I’m not sure, exactly, how that is supposed to make it easier.

Keeping it real.

Again, it comes down to managing the expectations of ALL new mums.

Because if we surround second/third/sixth time mums with this false sense of security and this expectation that they should be ‘good’ at motherhood by now, we’re heaping a whole lot of extra pressure on them. We’re not allowing them to feel vulnerable, inadequate or out of their depth. Worse still, we’re making them feel fraudulent if they do feel any of these things (which of course, they will) because they should be acing this, right? They’re not new mums, are they? They’ve done this before.

What’s the big deal?

More support, not less.

But it is a big deal.

Every time you have a baby IT IS A BIG DEAL. From pregnancy to birth to those newborn days where you exist in a hazy fog on two hour’s sleep. Some days, it might even be a bigger deal than that first time and you’ll need more support, not less. Because you’ve got other children to manage and look after. You can’t necessarily melt into the sofa and give in to the tiredness. There’ll be a toddler having the time of his life making toilet roll soup in the sink if you do.

Although at that point in the day, you’ll probably just be pleased that someone’s taken the initiative to make any sort of meal.

It’s ok if you’re not acing it.

For me, I don’t remember my second time being easier and I think my third time may well have been the hardest of all. OK, I could change a nappy. I knew what to expect in many ways. But I was still thrown every single time I had a newborn that cried and wouldn’t settle. It filled me with angst, a reaction I always fought but one I should have just noticed and gone with because our babies crying is supposed to ignite some sort of response in us. And the tiredness never got easier or more tolerable. It just made me want to disembowel my other half. Again.

So if you’re a new mum of a second, third or sixth baby and, right this minute, you don’t particularly feel like you’re acing it, please know that that’s ok. You don’t have to be brilliant at this just because you’ve done it before. I can name ten things off the top of my head right now that I’m still not good at despite doing them a million times. Motherhood is no different.

This baby is new. This time is new. The demands on you are new. So afford yourself the same kindness you hopefully did the first time around and grab yourself a cuppa, a slab of cake and repeat after me, ‘I’m a new mum, no matter what round I’m on.

Please share this post with any new mum you think could do with some reassurance. And if you want to check out The New Mum’s Notebook, it’s available online here for £20. More of me over on Facebook and Instagram.

What is The New Mum’s Notebook?

When you’ve created something and it’s been in your head for so long you forget that not everyone else just knows what it is. So I thought I’d answer a few of the questions I’ve been getting. Because The New Mum’s Notebook is not just a notebook.

book-with-neon-glasses

Is The New Mum’s Notebook a blank notebook?

Not at all. It’s actually as much of a book as it is a journal. There’s a lot of written articles in it to reassure and support a new mum in those first 12 months of motherhood. There’s no advice, as such, because the aim of the notebook is to reassure a mum in the choices she’s already making, not give her more advice she can’t process. It doesn’t matter if she’s bottle feeding, breastfeeding, co-sleeping or rocking her baby to sleep whilst listening to Justin Bieber. There’s NO judgement here.

letter-to-new-mum-pages

What are the articles about?

There are several articles per month, each relevant to that stage. They might be about sleep deprivation, your relationship, your mental wellbeing or a light hearted look at how NOT to wean your baby. You can see a full list here on the Contents page.

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-20-13-30

Is The New Mum’s Notebook only for new mums?

Ideally, yes, as the notebook is divided into the first 12 months of motherhood. Each month includes articles relevant to that stage, a few journal pages for a new mum to write on and some positive affirmations and tips for keeping her mind and body healthy. If you buy it for a new mum with a six month old, for example, there will be earlier articles that won’t be as relevant, such as ‘The first 12 days with a newborn.’ Having said that the journal pages aren’t dated, the affirmations can apply to any stage and they will still love using it.

animal-print-quote-page-and-single-journal-page

Is The New Mum’s Notebook only for first time mums?

Definitely not. I believe you’re a new mum no matter what ’round’ you’re on, because each baby is so different. Whilst having practical skills in looking after a previous baby definitely helps, lots of the doubts and worries that come with that first time occur every time you have a baby. I’m not sure you ever feel totally confident in what you’re doing plus you’re always sleep deprived and need to hear you’re doing ok. Also, you’re juggling the demands of having more than one child, so you need just as much support as a first time mum. Often more.

open-book-with-coffeeAre there enough journal pages for one a day?

This isn’t a diary or daily journal and I didn’t want anyone to feel pressured to have to write in the notebook too frequently. No new mum has time for that! So there are pages for eight days of every month and a further 12 blank notes pages at the back of the notebook to continue writing down any personal, feeding or weaning notes. I also encourage new mums to use the handy pocket at the back to keep any important notes, letters, or keepsakes.

filled-in-journal-double-page

Can I send it as a gift?

The notebook makes a great gift for an expectant or new mum, as a personal, baby shower or even corporate maternity leave gift. You can add a gift message on our original postcard for a small, additional cost. We also delivery internationally so you can send some support to a new mum friend you can’t physically be there for.

giftcard

What are people saying about it?

Some lovely feedback from those who have already bought it:

‘Your book will go everywhere with me.’
‘Already in love with it.’
You’ve created the thing that we all wish we’d had.’
‘This is so brilliant, I couldn’t resist. Some great advice that still applies to raising a toddler.’
‘I needed this in my life 6 months ago!’
‘I want another baby now just to get this book.’

How much is it and where can I buy it?

The New Mum’s Notebook is £25 (including P&P). Now available online at The New Mum’s Notebook. We also have a couple of retailers on board and are currently in discussion with several others. You can keep up to date with news of these on our Stockists page.

Summary

  • 304 colour pages including 32 articles, journal pages, affirmations, simple recipes and blank notes pages
  • Divided into the first 12 months of motherhood to address each particular stage
  • 12 months of milestone charts with stickers for mum and baby
  • Integrated pocket at the back with milestone stickers and space for papers and notes
  • Neon yellow ribbon bookmark
  • Comes nicely packaged, ideal for a new mum/baby shower gift with gift card available

milestone-charts

If you’ve purchased or been given a copy of The New Mum’s Notebook, do share and tag your picture on social media #thenewmumsnotebook. I love seeing all your photos, especially books on bumps! More of me over on Facebook and Instagram.

The REAL hospital bag checklist

Google ‘hospital bag’ and you’ll get many, many lists of ALL the stuff you need in order to have a baby. It’s pretty daunting! I remember it well. And now I look back on my first labour hospital bag, I wonder whether I had confused childbirth with some sort of spa break. A travel candle, magazines and an actual music playlist. WTF? The bag that I spent a month packing? Never made it out of the car. Obviously. If you want to pack an all singing, all dancing hospital bag there’s nothing wrong with that. But if the sheer, overwhelming thought of it is making you not want to give birth at all, here’s a lowdown on the REAL essentials. (Everything else you can do without, trust me.)

Stuff you need.

  1. Yourself. If it really came down to it, literally the only thing you’d need to give birth is YOU. Everything else is the icing on the cake. Remember this and you’ll eliminate a lot of the stress when you realise you’ve forgotten to pack the lip balm that you’ve convinced yourself you really need in order to have the ‘perfect’ birth.
  2. Tens machine. I personally rate this. A LOT. I know it doesn’t float everyone’s boat but it’s got me through three labours and I would not attempt labour without it.
  3. Snacks/flavoured drinks. I’ve added this one post-publication as a lot of you have mentioned you needed snacks post birth (because the hospital food was sparse or the hospital cafes were shut). Cereal bars. Chocolate. Biscuits. Not so much for during labour (which is when I imagined I’d be picnicking away, presumably when I was also leisurely reading my magazines and smelling my candle haha). And I do remember sipping an isotonic sports drink during labour number one, because the taste of water just didn’t go down well.
  4. Non perfumed shower gel. That post birth shower is HEAVEN. But it can sting. You probably don’t want to go tantalising yourself with The Original Source’s Tea Tree and Mint shower gel.
  5. BIG pants (and a few pairs of them). Size up. Buy black, cheap ones. And one week in you’ll wonder what you ever saw in a thong.
  6. Sanitary pads. You will need these whether you have a vaginal birth or a c-section (not everyone knows you still bleed when you have a c-section). You can buy fancy maternity pads but these are basically more expensive versions of sanitary pads. Get a few packs of cheap, extra thick sanitary pads and layer them up. It’s all about the cushioning.
  7. Nightdress/loose PJs. For after you’ve given birth. Make sure this is appropriate. Don’t do what I did and buy a non-maternity one when you’re just five months pregnant. Because that final four months makes a HUGE difference. Suddenly, your decent nightie has crossed the line from appropriate to the equivalent of some obscene crotchless creation from Ann Summers. No one wants to see that on the maternity ward.
  8. Nappies and a pack of wipes. Another minefield. How do you know how much your baby is going to weigh? What does the broad weight range mean? Basically, one size fits all. Just buy the newborn size and you’ll be fine. If your baby turns out to be bigger than 13lbs someone can go and get you bigger nappies. (If you’ve just delivered a 13lbs baby I’m thinking you’ll have more pressing things on your mind than what size nappy your baby is wearing. Ouch.)
  9. A couple of newborn babygros, short sleeved vests and a hat. You don’t need to go overboard here. Your baby’s just spent nine months tucked up warmly inside you so, regardless of the season, they’ll need a long sleeved, long legged babygro to start with. Possibly layered with a short sleeved vest underneath. And a spare set incase they poo all over the first. THAT’S IT. If you end up staying in hospital longer than you anticipated, someone can get you more clothes. I actually read a list that said my baby needed a ‘going home outfit.’ What? Where was she going that she needed an outfit? So I had cardigans, socks (socks? My kids still don’t wear socks) and a selection of hats. The irony is that because my hospital bag never made it out of the car, my daughter’s first hat was a piece of tubigrip with a knot in the end. She looked like she had a condom on her head. My point? There’s always a way around everything. Things don’t turn out how you imagined. And that’s ok.
  10. Tracksuit bottoms, loose top, hairband. To go home in. If you want to change. Second time around I was discharged so quickly that I actually just went home in my PJs and the jumper I had on when I went in. Also, if your hair isn’t already tied back, take a hair band so you can avoid any post-birth, disastrous hair pictures (like mine).
  11. Carseat and a baby blanket. To get you all home safely.

Stuff you might think you need but really don’t.

  1. Make up. You won’t care what you look like. I promise you. You’ll be too busy rejoicing that it’s over and you and your baby are safe to put on mascara.
  2. Everything else. Often, we use STUFF as a focus. It diverts our attention from the real task at hand. We convince ourselves we need so many things in order for something to happen. But often this is a way of channelling the fear that we so understandably have, especially about something as big and unknown as childbirth. Trust yourself, trust your body, breathe and you have everything you need.

A note.

If you’re going in for an induction or elective c-section, your hospital bag requirements will be different to the above as you could be in for a few days. (My friend who has had two c-sections says get big pants and high waisted PJs/leggings/tracksuit bottoms so as not to irritate the scar.) Similarly, if your labour ends up taking an unprecedented turn and you end up with complications, again your needs will change. Hopefully you’ll have a partner, family member or friend on hand to help you out if this should happen. This list is to simplify the process for those that anticipate a straightforward birth because it can all be so overwhelming that we end up focusing all our mental energy on the STUFF and not the actual process. Whatever scenario you give birth in, if you start moving your own lamp, rug and bedside table onto the maternity ward, you’ve gone too far. Good luck mums-to-be, you can (and will) do it. However it happens.

I hope this helps someone not freak out like I once did. Feel free to add your own ‘essentials’ below. There’s lots of real post-birth support and reassurance like this in The New Mum’s Notebook, available now for £20 (plus P&P). More of me on Facebook and Instagram.