12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of being a mum

Somehow, my teeny tiny person is a year old this month. It seems like yesterday that I was panicking about breaking her every time I touched her, and it’s a little crazy to me that she’s gone from this tiny human on the left, to the cheeky monkey on the right that would rather eat cheerios than do anything else.

So, in the spirit of turning one year old, here are 12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of being a mum.

1. It’s ok (and normal) to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing 100% of the time

Let’s be honest, when you deliver a baby, they’re not born with a handbook too (though that would be super helpful). While everyone would like to think they do, nobody has the perfect formula for the ideal way to raise a child – you can only follow your instincts, do your best and listen to guidance from sources you trust. Don’t let people make you feel like less of a person if you’re unsure on the best way to do something, it’s perfectly natural.

2. While babies are fragile, they’re more sturdy than you give them credit for

When my daughter was born, I was so worried I was going to hurt her because she looked so fragile. In the months to come, however, I’d learn she was anything but. At 8 weeks old she was diagnosed with Pyloric Stenosis (you can read about that here) and had emergency surgery to correct the issue. It was a scary time for us, but it showed us that she was stubborn, and a born fighter. Since then she’s been learning to crawl, and she’s now walking. I’ve seen her fall (and bounce) so many times and been worried she’s hurt herself, but she just carries on like nothing has happened.

3. It’s ok to ask for help

Everyone needs a break from time to time. Being with your little person 24/7 is physically and emotionally draining, and it’s really hard to keep up with everything and keep up with them at the same time! If you read my previous post on being a disabled parent, you’ll know I have a lot to contend with at the moment, so this is probably the thing I’ve learnt most in the last year. Before I had my daughter, I was so stubborn and tried to do everything myself. I’m trying to be better at knowing when I’ve hit my limit and realising I need to ask for help before I burn out!

4. Cloth nappies are a game changer

This one was a major learning curve. Before trying out cloth nappies with my monster, I’d never come across them before! Thankfully, with some encouragement from Maria we got to grips with them fairly quickly. You can read Maria’s post about cloth nappies here.
It’s so handy knowing I’ll never have to run out for nappies in the middle of the night, it keeps the £££ down and they’re good for my little one’s sensitive skin. The prints are adorable, and that extra chunky butt is oh so cute. Plus, they’re good for the planet, so they’re a win win really!

5. Make time for yourself and your partner

This one is for all of you who are in a relationship. Make time to maintain that foundation, because you model your relationship every day to your kids. Even if it’s just half an hour at the end of the day, make sure you sit down and communicate properly with your partner. And for those of you who aren’t in a relationship – make time for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

6. Be your child’s advocate

This (along with my next point) has taken me a while to be comfortable with, but honestly it shouldn’t have. At such a young age, my daughter isn’t able to verbally communicate that she doesn’t want to do something, but as her mum I can tell when she doesn’t want to do something, and I need to be there to back her up. This includes not making her hug or kiss people when she doesn’t want to. You can read more on this on Harriet’s post on sex positive parenting.

7. Be clear on how you want to raise your child, and don’t compromise for others

If you want to discipline your children a certain way, make sure you’re clear about it with everybody who will be taking care of your child, because there is nothing more frustrating than teaching your child for six weeks that they cannot play with your glasses, only to look over and see someone handing theirs over as a chew toy.

8. Your house will never be tidy 100% of the time and that is ok

Everyone knows that if a baby is having fun, there is a high likelihood that they are making a massive mess! I love having a tidy home, but I love seeing my smiler having fun more, and I’d rather take the time to enjoy her while she is small and have a tidy house when she’s older (read:she can clean up as payback) and make some brilliant memories now. Plus, as soon as she’s gone to bed I hide her toys away inside the TV unit and suddenly my living room is tidy again. Who knew.

9. Take photos, but be present

I love taking photographs as much as the next person, and now that she’s learning to walk I’d love to get it on video, but I’d rather watch it happen in front of me rather than through a screen.  We do tend to limit screen time in our house; little one doesn’t watch television so is fascinated by the television in other people’s houses. In 2017, researchers at the Illinois State University and the University of Michigan Medical School published a paper funded by The Pennsylvania State University, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in which the conclusion was that parent’s excessive use of mobile phones can drive behavioural problems in children under 5. You can read the NHS’s assessment of the paper here. While the study has some issues, I did feel convicted when I read it and resolved to try and be more present in the day time when my mini me was up and about.

10.Be prepared or prepare to fail

I’m an organised person anyway, but since having a baby I find I have to be an organised person on steroids. If we don’t have a meal plan for the week, we’re in trouble and I fall behind. We have a column in our calendar for jobs, and I write the jobs I have to get done each day, even the basics like hoovering and putting a wash load on (which is a must if you’re keeping on top of washing cloth nappies). We have spare clothes, thermometers, every cream you can think of, bibs, bottles, and practically the kitchen sink in our nappy bag, but it’s better it’s spare than desperately needed.It may sound like overkill, and I feel like I make lists for my lists sometimes, but it keeps us afloat so something must be working!

11. Always carry snacks

There is nothing worse than being hangry. Hanger. Is. A. Real. Thing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, The Oxford Dictionary defines being hangry as

“ADJECTIVE – informal. Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.”   

There is no shame in keeping a snack in the nappy bag for adults and babies alike. It sounds like such an obvious thing, but you’d be surprised how many people have been shocked that I keep food in there for me too. Try it. You’ll thank me.

12. Allow yourself WAY more time than you’d think to leave the house

This. Took. Some. Time.
Ask anyone who knows us, and they’ll confirm, we were at least an hour late for everything until baby was at least a month old. It sounds stupid because at that age, they don’t move around, but my goodness was it a challenge. I’d try and leave the house 47 times and realise I’d left something vital inside every single time. Somehow, even though it’s much tougher to get little one ready and dressed now (think crocodile wrestling) we’re rarely late. It’s taken us some time, but we’ve finally got there.
I honestly can’t believe that time has flown so quickly and my little miracle is going to be one in just a few days time. The last year has been tough but so rewarding, and she makes my day every day.
What did you learn in the first year of being a mum?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Steps I am taking to be a ‘Sex Positive’ Parent to my Toddler…

Sex Positivity is all about embracing sexuality and understanding that sex and everything relating to it, is a natural part of life as a human being.

Share

Like most of us at Mummykind, you may have grown up in a family environment where not even a word about sex was ever uttered- leading you to experience feelings of shame, guilt or discomfort about a wide range of completely natural sexual subjects. Sex positivity and awareness of sex isn’t exclusive to contraception and the big talks that we may have once had as a teenager. Sex Positivity is all about embracing sexuality and understanding that sex and everything relating to it, is a natural part of life as a human being.

 

 

I stumbled across a fantastic page on Instagram @sexpositive_families (some of their infographics and quotes are featured on this post!) several months ago- it promoted the importance of sex positivity in families, especially in parenting and since then I have made a conscious effort to be the most sex positive Mummy I can be! We all want our children to be happy and healthy,  I think its massively important to remember that raising healthy children goes beyond what they’re eating and how much exercise they get- Their mental and sexual health is massively important too! 

Needless to say- “sexual health goes beyond just puberty, basic human biology and very occasional sex talks.” When we start sexual health talks and awareness early, we give our children awareness that affirms they are neither strange nor wrong for any of what they are experiencing. 

Obviously the Mummykind kids are between a few months and three years old, so the sex positive parenting steps that I am going to recommend will mainly cater for this age.


As parents we have to tell little white lies all the time- about father Christmas, about the tooth fairy, about how long 5 minutes is- but sex, relationships, sexuality and bodies are some of the things we should always try to be honest about. 

  • Do not ban any words at home, no matter how uncomfortable they might make you feel.

Children need to know they can trust you and talk to you about anything- use proper words for body parts when and where possible or opt for words that cant mean other things. We call a vagina a ‘nuna’ but often use the word vagina anyway. Words like ‘cookie’ for example have alternate meanings and this can lead to confusion and abuse being missed due to being misunderstood. 

 

  • Let your child be naked.

If my daughter is at home and she wants to be naked, then she can do as she pleases. Her being comfortable to be undressed is important. I don’t deliberately go around naked at home, but I don’t hide away when I am. I have a full figure, stretch marks and scars and I want her to see that is normal and okay.

  • When your child doesn’t want to hug or kiss someone, don’t make them!

“Make a habit out of asking permission before you touch them or share affection with your children, Respecting their boundaries’ highlights the importance of their bodily autonomy and lays a crucial foundation and ‘understanding of consent.”

@sexpositive_families reminds us that common consent violations can include-

“Being tickled past the point of comfort, being hugged or kissed without their permission, telling a family member to “stop” without it being respected, being told to eat food past the point of being full, having your personal items looked through without being asked for permission or being told to show affection to another person when you did not want to.”

  • When you catch your toddler exposing or touching their body parts, don’t freak out.

Exploring your own body, including your genitals is a valuable part of sexual health that often begins at a young age. A child touching or fiddling about with their genitalia shouldn’t be discouraged, but more reiterated that there is a time and place for doing so. For example if your child is playing with his penis, you could try saying “We don’t touch our penises in the living room darling, if you want to do that why don’t you go to your room or the bathroom?” … touching and exploring their own bodies isn’t the issue but the place they decide to do it often is! Kids understand when things are compartmentalised and so offering an alternative that is safer and more appropriate to explore themselves should make sense and feel normal to them, a bit like “No eating whilst using the toilet”.

  • When they ask about private parts, don’t shy away from the subject.

I was shopping in Aldi when I picked up some sanitary towels- my daughter decided to shout “ARE THEY FOR YOUR BOTTOM MUMMY?” although I felt a little embarrassed, I wanted her to have no shame around the subject or use of sanitary products so I proudly proclaimed “YES, yes darling, these are for my bottom… Lady days!”.. No matter where and no matter when, try to never shy away from your child questions about their body, your body or otherwise!

  • When your child asks about intimacy, try to explain it in a way that makes sense and is appropriate to them.

“Why are they kissing?” “Why are they holding hands?” – Talk about how when people want to touch each other it can make them happy to do so, but it could also make them sad if it was unexpected or made one of them uncomfortable. ‘Safe Touch’ and ‘Unsafe Touch’ can be taught from early ages. Try to avoid making physical contact and affection sound like a negative, but more focus the child’s attention on what other lovely things they could do if they’re feeling like they want to kiss somebody that it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to kiss – like pick a flower or draw a picture for them. We are all such emotional beings, discussing these emotions with our children can only make them stronger.

My daughter is almost three and has always followed me around as I go about my day to day. If I shower, she’ll be in and out as I do- the same as when I use the bathroom. If she sees any blood or any use of sanitary products, I tell her that it is for my ‘lady days’ – I have PCOS and really suffer when I have a period and knowing that my daughter could experience similar when she is growing up made me want to be as vocal about my experience as possible. I talk to her about my cramps, I talk to her about the bleeding when and if she sees it and I talk to her about my use of sanitary products. If I am feeling unwell for gynae reasons I will discuss it as if it was a cold or flu. I don’t want my child to feel any once of shame for a natural process. I want her to know it is normal and it is okay.

Your response to your child saying these words lays a foundation for their understanding of consent!

  • Listen to anything that your children want to tell you. If you don’t listen to the small stuff now, they won’t tell you the big stuff later.https://www.instagram.com/p/BqBNKK9B_mB/

In summary- “Sex positive parents are parents who raise children that are prepared to make informed choices about their bodies, relationships and sexual health.” “The best sex education is given over a life time, not in one talk or occasional school lessons.” @sexpositive_families

Here are some of my favourite Sex Positive Parenting resources

https://www.instagram.com/sexpositive_families/

https://www.instagram.com/the.vulva.gallery/

https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/10-ways-to-support-sex-positive-kids/

https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/1466718-Sex-positive-parenting-blog

https://theswaddle.com/sex-positive-parenting-toddler/

**Please note that Sex Positive Parenting isn’t exclusive to any gender, despite a variety of resources suggesting that it is mainly something that parents of girls need to think about**

A special thank you and shout out to @sexpositive_families who have been quoted throughout this post. Their work is invaluable and you most definitely need to check them out!

Remember that if words fail you, there are plenty of appropriate books that can be purchased online for various different age groups that can say what you might be struggling to. @sexpositive_families have devised a fantastic reading list that covers a wide range of subject to a multitude of ages, find it here.