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**
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.
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?
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.)
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Since announcing that Penguin Random House are going to be publishing The New Mum’s Notebook and the next Notebook, I’ve been asked quite a lot how it happened. How did I get a book deal? Did I approach them? Did they find me? So I thought I’d share exactly how it happened. For those who are interested.
‘Sorry about the terrible book.’
Firstly, I wasn’t ‘discovered.’ Nor did I ever see this as an ending, or should I say, a beginning for The New Mum’s Notebook. I was REALLY happy with the way things were going. Self-publishing has given me autonomy, huge satisfaction and financial stability.
But, earlier this year, I found myself wanting to write another book. Not a Notebook (although Notebook Two was also in mind). But a book with just words. Lots and lots of words. And it wasn’t something I wanted to attempt to self-publish, even after the success of The New Mum’s Notebook. So I decided, on a complete whim, to get in touch with an agent. The same agent, David Higham Associates, who I’d approached five years ago. With the first (and only) novel I’ve ever written, Up The Duff without a Paddle. Which they rejected. Understandably.
I didn’t follow their submission guidelines, like last time. Because I only had a very vague book in mind. Instead, I wrote a friendly email. Apologising for the rather badly written first book, telling them what I’d been up to since (blogging, freelance writing and The New Mum’s Notebook) and that I thought (hoped) I’d found my voice and my writing had improved. I also included popular blog post links and a few stats on followers and Notebook sales. Boring as stats are, if you have an audience already, this helps an agent think that someone might possibly read a book you’ll write. Other than your mum.
Which is something they apparently like.
The email I sent somehow got me a reply from lovely agent (and fellow mum), Laura, which then turned into some nice banter. I sent Laura a copy of The New Mum’s Notebook because she has an 18 month old. She opened it, loved it and then asked me if I would like to come in for a meeting.
At which point, my pelvic floor completely failed me and I may have wet myself a little with excitement.
I’ve had three kids. AND a trampolining incident. It’s totally not my fault.
The day of the meeting.
The morning of the meeting was a complete disaster. Naturally.
I had stupidly told my kids that Mummy had a REALLY important meeting to get to and needed everyone to behave. I think I actually said the words, ‘Teamwork.’ Which is just asking for trouble, isn’t it?
True to form, at that point, they did exactly the opposite. My eldest said she had a tummy ache and didn’t think she could go to school. The middly was doing her phonics homework loudly, ‘M-U-G. That spells GUM!’ Noooooooooooo! And the youngest thought it would be hilarious to tip a whole beaker of milk over the floor. (Whoever said ‘there’s no point crying over spilt milk’ never had to clear it up.)
I hadn’t planned my outfit the night before, as we are always told to do. Because obviously I imagined I would have LOADS of time to do this in the morning, whilst the kids were focusing on their teamwork skills. The thing is, if your ‘outfit’ usually consists of saggy leggings and a grey slogan sweat, you are going to need to try harder than most to look presentable and should probably have started 72 hours earlier.
‘I’ve got on PVC trousers,‘ I said in a desperate call to my friend. ‘How much time do you have to change?‘ she said. In other words, ‘WHY THE HELL ARE YOU WEARING PVC TROUSERS AT 10.00 AM ON A MONDAY MORNING? THAT IS QUITE POSSIBLY THE WORST OUTFIT YOU COULD HAVE PICKED.’
As I finally left the house, it started to rain. I had just had a fringe cut. I have naturally curly hair.
Good old Yazz would have said at this point, ‘The only way is up!’
Before I went in I took this (badly focused) picture, whilst hoping there was no CCTV. I wanted to remember this day, regardless of whether it went anywhere or nowhere at all.
I liked Laura instantly. And we spent the next two hours talking babies and books and why she should persevere with watching Gilmore Girls. At the end, she talked about how we could go forward, ‘if’ I wanted to work with her. IF?! It was a bit like the end of a date, where you’re treading on eggshells wondering if you both want to see one another again.
I didn’t play it cool, haha.
After that, Laura and I worked on a submission for another book together. She pitched it to publishers AND sent every one of them a copy of The New Mum’s Notebook. It soon became clear that The New Mum’s Notebook was the book the publishers were interested in.
Two weeks later, we got an offer from Sarah at Hutchinson (Penguin Random House) for The New Mum’s Notebook and a second Notebook. A relatively ‘new mum’ herself, Sarah’s lovely letter alone was enough to convince me there and then that she was the right person to take The New Mum’s Notebook forward. I could feel how much she understood and believed in it. And, from the beginning, all my instincts said YES.
So, I said YES.
Work, work, work (and love what you do).
I have had all the emotions this past couple of months. And whilst I know that I have worked hard and consistently for four years, since I launched my blog and wrote posts that only my mum and five others read, at the same time this part of the ‘journey’ feels like it is happening all by itself. The stars seem to be aligned. Or maybe, the timing was just right.
I wanted to write this post because I think, so often, we see other people’s progress and we don’t understand it. It seems to come out of the blue and land on someone’s lap. Some days, it can feel like your piece of the pie is never going to come. I know that feeling, I do. And yes, there are a few brilliant people out there who may get discovered through the combo of sheer talent, luck and timing. But, for the majority of us, I think it’s more about sheer hard word and putting one foot in front of the other. Committing to your ‘craft.’ Loving what your craft is and being consistent about doing it. Always being consistent.
On the good days. And, especially, on the not so good days.
Thank you to everyone who has made this ‘announcement week’ so special! You have all been SO kind. I celebrated HARD on Tuesday night, drank the gin, read (and hopefully replied to) every comment you took the time to write and had a little kitchen dance. Much love to you all. First ‘Limited’ edition of The New Mum’s Notebook is available online now. The ‘new’ version is available to preorder on Amazon. Notebook Two for you not-so-new mums will be published next year!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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.)
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for three and a half years and somehow never shared this. (Actually, I think it’s more than likely taken me three and a half years to be brave enough.) Don’t worry, new mum-to-be, you won’t look this bad, I promise you.
This, above, is a picture of me two minutes after giving birth.
When we were sharing birth pictures and I first showed this to my NCT crew, they literally couldn’t breathe for laughing. And yes, it’s a funny picture. Because I look HORRENDOUS. My top birth tip remains, ‘Don’t get your first ever fringe cut one month before giving birth.‘ I think you can see why.
My NCT crew looking at THAT picture
But, in truth, I’d just spent 15 hours pushing a watermelon out. (She did actually turn out to be a baby, thankfully, but you know what I mean.) How else was I going to look? Groomed? Composed? Awake? I actually couldn’t keep my eyes open. Haha. These aren’t usually the pictures that get shared. Of course they aren’t. Unless, of course, you’re my friend’s husband who sent a post-birth picture to his WHOLE family of my friend looking a lot like me, except she also had poo on her hand. Nice.
No, the pictures we look at are of mums possibly a few hours, even days, post birth having showered and brushed their hair, gazing at their baby in pure wonderment (or shock). And these pictures are beautiful. I mean, you’re hardly going to put the picture above on your mantlepiece, are you? (Not least because it’s of me and that would be a bit weird.) But, I do think it’s important to shed the layers of myth surrounding having babies and being a new mum and keep reminding ourselves of the reality (there are some fab instagrammers who have been doing this for a while, thankfully). It’s especially needed in a world where we’re surrounded with glossy mags and social media that might tell a more photoshopped/filtered ‘new mum’ story.
It’s stuff we all know deep down as our rational selves but it’s stuff we forget when we’re ‘new’ and vulnerable and downright knackered. For example, we forget, or actually don’t even know first time round, that it’s perfectly normal to still look nine months pregnant for a good while after birth. ‘And when are you having your baby?‘ a girl on the maternity ward asked me the day after I’d had mine. Erm…
So, mums-to-be, new mums and the rest of us still feeling a bit ‘new’ two (five) years on (ahem), this is me saying focus on the important stuff. Take care of yourself inside, not necessarily out (well, not right now anyway). Feast your eyes on that gorgeous baby. And some equally delicious cake.
Brushing your hair can totally wait, right?
(Just don’t do birth with a fringe when you have naturally curly hair. That’s all I’m saying.)
There’s more myth shedding in The New Mum’s Notebook, the sanity saving journal for new mums. I promise there are absolutely no pictures of me looking like this. No pictures of me at all, in fact. Now, there’s a reason alone to buy it. Available now from www.thenewmumsnotebook.co.uk priced £20 (plus £4.25 P&P).
We have a website, well a holding page at least! The New Mum’s Notebook, the sanity-saving journal for ALL new mums (no matter what round you’re on), is launching June 2016. Please share this with mums-to-be (or better still treat them to a copy) and sign up to the newsletter for launch news, sanity-saving tips and humour.
The thing that made me so sad was the amount of mums saying they wish they’d read them earlier in their motherhood journey. Like me, most of them had never even heard of the fourth trimester and had instead spent those early months riddled with guilt and self-doubt.
I wanted to find a way to get this information to new mums before giving birth or, at the very least, as soon as they had their baby. I looked into distributing it in a leaflet via the NHS but it wasn’t a simple process. So I thought about producing a small pamphlet that I could sell cheaply via my blog. Then I realised how much material I had and that pamphlet turned into a book, which then became a journal and The New Mum’s Notebook was born.
So. What is The New Mum’s Notebook?
It’s a journal for new mums (whether it’s baby number one, two, three or six!). It’s her sanity-saving companion. For those days where she might need a little encouragement. To hear that she’s amazing (because she is). And to give her a place to write down any thoughts and memories, so she can remember them in five years’ time. Or look back (and reassure herself) on how she felt at a particular time, if she has another baby.
My intention is for the journal to be a companion. Like having her best friend by her side. Someone who will say, ‘you’re amazing’ and reassure her, as often as she needs to hear it, that what she is doing is more than enough.
How can it help new mums?
Motherhood is the most uncertain and challenging time in most women’s lives. It’s not what we expect and we spend most of the first year (and beyond!) doubting ourselves. We’re in a sleep-deprived fog and not always able to think rationally, like we would have done pre-baby. So thoughts snowball, we feel like we’re doing a bad job and amidst all that we feel lonely and isolated. I want new mums to know that ALL OF THIS is normal, that the catastrophic thoughts are not catastrophic at all, they just feel like they are. Moments pass. Every new mum is beautifully unique. And it really and truly DOES NOT MATTER how she birthed her baby, how she’s feeding her baby or what routine or lack of routine she’s doing.
New mums don’t need conflicting advice that doesn’t suit their situation or to waste precious energy comparing themselves to other mums. They only need to be supported in their version of motherhood, whatever that has turned out to be.
Because every version is different. Every version is valid. And all new mums deserve to feel as confident as possible in what they’re doing.
This is NOT another baby journal.
This is a journal for the mum’s wellbeing. It’s divided into 12 months with each month including a couple of features relevant to that stage of motherhood, space for her to write and some positive affirmations and tips for keeping her mind and body healthy (basically cutting herself some slack and eating cake). At the back of the notebook there’s an annual planner with stickers, to keep track of important dates (because a baby ate her brain). As well as a baby milestone chart with quick and easy stickers (because we all forget when our baby cut their first tooth or started crawling).
Where can I buy it?
The New Mum’s Notebook is 304 pages, priced at £25 (including P&P) and will be available via the website from June. You can subscribe to the mailing list to be the first to order (and receive tasters in the meantime). It will also be available to buy from selected retailers, to be announced shortly.
My hope is that it helps new mums navigate the first year of motherhood and reminds them how amazing they are.
The website is live! Well, the holding page at least. Please sign up to receive news of the launch and be the first to order. This will make a lovely gift for new mums so start dropping some hints or add to your shopping list for a new mum…