Learning how to have fun with motherhood

When I think back on the first few months after my baby girl was born , I think what a waste ! What a waste all that stressing was for and the anxiety, instead of just enjoying every minute of it. It took me so long to adjust to being a mother that I missed out on half the journey. I think it is all part of being a first time mom, I don’t think there is a woman on earth that did not feel overwhelmed the first time she brought her little one home.

As the months went by, I slowly learned to not be so hard on myself (and my poor husband) and to just breathe through the difficult times. And most importantly; I learned how to have fun whilst doing it.

I always felt so overwhelmed that I thought there was no time in the day to do something that I enjoy, I soon realized that this was just an excuse. The moment I made an effort, things started to change for me, I now write while I sit on the floor and play with her (master multitasker right!?), its not easy, and a post takes me twice as long, but I am doing it.

We need to realize the importance of doing something different, something other than being a wife/partner and a mother, we need to do something that makes us feel like an individual again, it just gives you the little break that you need to carry on with what the day holds.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, we too often feel like asking for help means that you are not coping with being a mother and that you have failed, that is just not true, and don’t let anyone make you feel like that. Older people always tend to tell me “I had no help whatsoever and raised four kids”- well, well done , but that simply does not mean anything to me, I promise you that their recollection of something that happened 30 years ago is a bit embellished, and that does not mean that you now have to do the same or compare.

Take that break, have fun, have fun with your baby, each little giggle is worth all the dishes in the world, it can wait, all of it can, because at the end of the day, life is too short, so don’t live your life trying to live up to an ideal that is probably fabricated in the first place.

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How my baby has taught me to live in the PRESENT

We all live for the future, we plan our days and we focus on where we are going instead of focusing on where we are. Its normal though, we all work towards something, and look forward to getaways and holidays, that promotion at work and when our baby will reach the next milestone, we are always looking for the NEXT in life.

When you think about it, this is not true for our babies or toddlers, they don’t quite yet understand the concept of time the way we do, they understand day and night but not the concept of “next year” or sayings such as “maybe another time”, they live in the now, and they want all your love and attention now and not “later”.

This is not always possible for us as adults as we have more than one thing going on in our lives and constantly struggle to balance it all, but my little girl has taught me that it is okay to take a minute here and there to just soak it all up and spend time with her, without looking at the time and thinking about all the things I need to do around the house, just undivided attention.

Psychology suggests that the formative years (the first few years of your babies life) are the most important, they lay the foundation for your child to build on as the years go by, no pressure right!? I don’t mean this to sound as if you have to be perfect otherwise your child will one day spend thousands in therapy explaining how his mother damaged him emotionally as a baby, I mean it as these are the years your baby will learn that he/she is loved, safe and wanted.

Think about it for a second, when you know that you are loved and safe you have the confidence to take on the world, knowing that whatever goes wrong there is someone out there that will help, that will have your back no matter what, sort of a “home” you can go to whenever you need it . That is what we need to instill in our children from a young age, to know that no matter what life throws at them that they can always come back home and you will be there.

So when life gets too busy, take a moment and just spend it with you baby, it will give you a whole new perspective on time, and teach you that every now and then, it is okay to stop the clock and take in all the wonder of motherhood.

Moming

Being a first-time mom is INSANE! No, I am not being dramatic, it really is; I read every book you can think of, felt so prepared for this new little bundle, I was a little bit older (27) and I though I am a little more stable in my life and more mature, so therefore; I can handle this and pass with flying colours.

The reality looked like this;

Breastfeeding

What!?

Living on a farm in South Africa, I had no access to pre-natal classes and mom friends, all the farmers in the area told me that “it comes natural” just relax and don’t stress because your milk will go away (I don’t know about you, but being told not to stress because something bad will happen, in fact, makes me stress).

The day my baby girl was born was exciting and overwhelming, I was a mom, and it was the best feeling in the world, latching didn’t happen the first time, but I was told to just keep at it, and it will get easier.

It did not.

I ended up pumping every two hours; slept for an hour, and then fed her, then pumped again, I was beyond exhausted (I also had a c-section), I was adamant that I will only give my baby breast milk because I was told that this is the ONLY way to do it. I pumped for 7 weeks, while trying to get my baby girl to latch every other day. Then I watched a YouTube video on latching, and wham! She latched, and I felt like the best mom in the world, till this day, this was my proudest moment. All went well for about 3 weeks.

Chaos

Because I pumped form the start, my supply was not as much as I would have hoped for, we managed, but I could see that my supply was dwindling, I went to my doctor and she gave me a pill that makes your milk supply increase, this worked so well for us.

Then the unfortunate happened; the area we live in is prone to political unrest, and protesting in our area started, we would go to town, and could not get back home due to people burning tires in the road, this was so scary while having a 3-week-old in the car. This happened a few times, and as a new mom, hormones flying high, this stressed me out so much, I felt like I am supposed to protect my baby and give her the best life possible and I couldn’t, it felt like everything was out of my control.

As luck would have it (even on those pills) 3 days later my milk supply dried up, just like that, over night.

The guilt that followed was unexpected, I felt like I failed my baby and as a mother, this is the most important thing for a mother; being able to feed her baby, so not being able to do that, brought on so many issues and regrets, the reason for my supply drying up is debatable; whether it was the stress, the pumping, or just a combination of all the above, I will never know.

We ended up giving formula, and I was amazed at how much more relaxed I was, and how content my baby girl was.

 

Hormones

I want to write this part with so much respect, because postpartum depression is so serious and so hard, every mom should take this seriously and seek help in any shape or form you see fit, but talk, don’t be ashamed of it, because I can promise you it happens more often than you think, all women just don’t feel confident enough to speak out about their experiences.

Although I never had postpartum depression; I definitely had a case of the baby blues – it took me roughly 2 months to feel like a person again. I did not feel like myself, I was emotional, irrational, paranoid, sad, lonely and misunderstood. The worst part about it is; I live around people that don’t think this is a thing, that don’t really believe in psychology and what it has to offer.

The good thing is, there are people to help, talk to a psychologist and work through this, for you and for your family, don’t suffer in silence with the hope that it will pass.

Sleeping

Okay so by now sleep deprivation is a term you are well familiar with, and you have even googled it a few times, but that is not the sleep I am talking about; I am talking about your baby’s sleep.

The first few weeks are not that bad (sleep wise) newborns tend so sleep when they should (well some babies anyway), but as the weeks go by; your baby now has difficulty falling asleep. For me, this was the biggest challenge, my baby girl only napped for 30 minutes at a time, and woke frequently at night, we even got a sleeping consultant to help.

The problem with sleeping is that your baby can’t do without it, they need it to grow, to recharge and to be able to interact with the world out there, the moment they don’t get this much needed sleep, they become overtired and overstimulated and this is something every single mom out there knows well – hell.

I have tried everything under the sun, baby wearing, rocking, singing, pacifier, swaddling, co-sleeping, own room, sleep training, block out curtains, white noise, no toys in the cot, sleep routine, routine in general, played with awake times, you get the picture, we tried everything you can think of. Some days we though we won, and then at night everything would just start all over again.

The moment you think you got the handle on this, then they are going through a growth spurt of a leap or teething or well, just a bad day.

Now

Figuring everything out and getting to know your baby takes time, and this is not something you want to hear because you need your life to get easier and to go back to normal or just to feel normal as soon as possible. The reality is, it does take time. My baby girl is 6 months old this week, and I am honestly only getting the hang of this now, I am apart of countless mom-groups, have family that help me, am constantly researching, and it still takes time.

But I can honestly say that it does get easier, I feel more like myself now, our baby girl is easier, and I even think that it might be because I am more relaxed, my hands don’t start sweating the moment I hear her cry, I don’t start panicking if she does something new, I don’t freak out over spit up anymore, and I don’t stress as much to take her somewhere.

In short, I think my hormones have finally balanced out.

Don’t laugh – its real! hormones after giving birth is crazy, I cried so much for no real reason, overreacted about everything (my poor husband), and I was just so stressed out everyday all day. This has since improved a lot, I can now take a breath because I know my baby is okay.

This phase in our lives makes me look forward to the next one, because I know what to expect, I know the ugly side of a lot of things now, and know that everyday is not always amazing and sunshine and roses all over the place like a lot of moms would have you think, but in the end, it is more than worth it; the rewards of being a mom are amazing, it takes over every little part of you and gives back so much more.

To all the newbie moms out there – you hang in there! Don’t let people “mom shame” you for doing anything, and it does get easier!

 

The “mom” flu

“Mom Flu is exactly like normal flu, except nobody cares”

This rings so true once you become a mother, you read this on memes and all-over social media and it’s hilarious, until it’s you!

Take me for example; I have had toothache for about a week now, and I just don’t get the time (or the babysitter) to go and get it fixed, and the pain is excruciating; but I still have to get up at 6 AM and feed my baby girl, she still has to have her naptime routine, and the dishes still need to get done, dinner still needs to get made – time waits for no mom !

Being a mom really is a 24/7 job, and I say job because it’s hard work, although incredibly rewarding, it still takes up most of your time, especially for the first few months, and you rarely get time for yourself, your marriage, or any other relationships in your life.

Whether you are sick, tired, cranky, emotional, or just having a rough day, you somehow always gather the strength to look after your baby and tend to them as if nothing is wrong and still give them the attention they deserve and need.

Since becoming a mother I could feel myself change, looking back on those first few weeks; I cant imagine how I used to get up every two hours to feed, while still recovering from my c-section, the hormones that came flooding in the first few days, struggling with breastfeeding, the paranoia of whether your baby is still breathing, is she comfortable, is she lying right, and lets not forget the sleepless nights googling about whether her amount of spit up is normal.

And I know that this is just the beginning, we haven’t even started teething, solids, potty training, sleep training, tantrums, and all the rest, and somehow I just know that I will cope with all of it because that is what being a mom is all about, you are not allowed to give up, and that to me , is so powerful, and it just makes you stronger every day, you just see the world differently when you become a parent.

Being a mom is like having seven balls in the air while holding your baby, and trying to catch them all , whether it be trying to juggle having a personal life of some sort, friendships, marriage, a career, and the moment you pay attention to one of these, you immediately feel some sort of “mom guilt” over not being with your child, or not spending all your time tending to them, or just simply worrying about them.

I strongly believe that having children humbles you, although I have never seen myself as a selfish person , I did put myself first in many scenarios, and since my baby girl was born , putting her first comes so natural, I don’t need to think it over, or decide whether I really need to go play with her or go to the hair appointment my hair desperately needs, it’s a no brainer.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that “you cant pour from an empty cup” and you are no good to your baby if you are stressed out and unhappy, our basic needs still need to be met and we deserve to be happy in all aspects of life in order to be a good example to your children as they grow up.

It is exactly like the safety demonstration before a flight; “place your own oxygen mask before tending to others”.

It is just that some of the things that used to give me sleepless nights before I became a mom, seems like minor issues to me now, and I feel more capable of handling outside stressors in my life, I feel mentally and emotionally stronger even.

Mom flu is not just actually being sick , it’s a constant state we find ourselves in where we put our families and relationships above our own wellbeing sometimes, and I don’t know about you , but I wouldn’t have it any other way !n The rewards of being a mom , far outweighs the sacrifices and I cannot imagine my life without my precious sweet baby girl.

To all the moms out there who are juggling life and motherhood and feel like you are dropping balls left and right, hang in there, you are not alone, and you are doing an AMAZING job!

Life happens FOR YOU and not TO YOU , and once you realize that, a whole lot of things come into perspective, you stop seeing everything as a chore, and realize what a blessing it is to be able to have children, and friends and a marriage or relationship, and although being a mom is such hard work, you stop looking for validation in other people and start finding it in the little face smiling up at you and within yourself.

And who is a better critic of whether you are doing a good job other than your baby? No one!

 

Angelique

 

 

How we underestimate small talk

Who has the time right !? We are all so busy and overwhelmed with our own lives and motherhood in general, that it sometimes feels like no one understands what we are going through, we tend to isolate ourselves in our own self made unhappiness.

Well I do anyway, it cant be said for everyone because some people are better at addressing their own issues than others, but I tend to feel like my husband does not get how hard it is to be a full time mom, to live in the middle of nowhere (#farmvibes) and to have no family or friends nearby to vent to when things get too much (because lets face it; they do).

Today I did some self reflection and it came to me; the reality of the situation is that, well, he doesn’t completely understand, nor can anyone. No one can truly know what another person is going through unless they have been through it themselves, and even then; people handle situations differently. So instead of focusing and fighting about something that simply cant be changed, I just sat and had a casual conversation with him. Simple right?

Afterwards, I felt so much lighter, it was the first time in so long that I wasn’t focused on how stressed or overwhelmed I was, I just shifted my focus for a minute and it gave me a whole new perspective on things. Don’t get me wrong, there will be days that I still wallow in it, because I am only human. But I just realized what a difference it makes to not focus all of my attention on the hardships in life, to basically give myself a break from it all, by simply not talking about it.

Value those conversations, and make an effort to talk less and listen more because it makes all the difference.

To the stay at home mom

I am the first to admit that quitting my job and staying home full time with my baby sounded awesome, how lucky am I to be in that position to spend all my time with her ? Although that part is true, I was underestimating the whole thing !

I am 11 months in and I have never , NEVER, been this tired ! Granted, she is entering toddler stage as I write this (please keep me in your prayers haha), but it is such hard work, those peaceful ALONE bathroom breaks I used to take at work is enough to make me want to go back to work.

It never ends, and that is what people don’t get. There is this “idea” out there that if you stay at home with your kids you must have so much time on your hands – “what do you do with all your time”; is enough to make a mom want to slap you in the face (sorry for the aggression lol , but we all know it).

I always hate when in the movies the stay at home moms go to pilates and coffee dates with their prams all day – uh hallo ? Does your baby just casually sleep the whole day ?! I mean what ?. It is such a cliche and that is why people think it is such a laidback lifestyle. Where in reality – if you get to put your make up on in the day it means that you had a little “me time”.

So to all the stay at home moms out there – salute ! You are as strong as they come and don’t let anyone tell you different!

Danger ! Entering Toddler Phase

I honestly thought that my baby was a lot of work before, until recently 🤣

My baby girl is approaching 11 months now , and boy is she busy ! And I mean a good busy , she is learning and taking so much in now , she wants to explore everything and plays with everything BUT her toys 🤣 (and by this I mean the dog food, the plugs, the chargers, my cupboards, the remotes, medicine bottles, you name it) it has taken baby proofing to a whole new level !

Today motherhood just got the better of me , I feel exhausted down to my toes, and everything I need to do after she goes to sleep just feels like too much effort.

I just read online “there is no epidural for motherhood” – how true is that ? No matter how hard the day or situation is, you show up, and you give your child the best you can even when its hard. You wake up the next day and somehow just have the energy to do it all again.

But seriously, having a busy baby/toddler is no joke, I spent most my time closing my bathroom doors and hiding something new she found today, but I would not have it any other way and am so grateful that my baby girl is healthy and happy 🙏🏻