Advice to Mums of Young Children

Today there was a tiny report in the Sunday Telegraph declaring mums want other mums to be more honest about the challenges of raising a baby. Apparently research released by Motherpedia says 93 per cent of Aussie mothers believe there needs to be more honesty between mums about motherhood. Really? Honesty is going to help?

Well, at the risk of it all getting ugly, here’s my HONEST advice for mothers contemplating, incubating or developing young children.

  1. There is never a “right” time to have a baby. All of you debating when or if to get pregnant and trying to fit it in to your life there won’t be a moment that is “perfect”. In the end you just have to do it and then figure out how to make it work.
  2. Stop worrying about the pregnancy and the birth – I know some of you may have reached that pivotal moment when it hits you that at some point this growing bump has to get OUT and you go into meltdown – don’t worry it does get out, one way or another, and frankly, those 9 months and however many hours of labour pale into insignificance compared the 18 years of challenges ahead.
  3. This is the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. You may have scaled Everest, lead a giant corporation, been held up at gun-point on a travelling adventure in Africa – all of that a piece of cake compared to raising a child.
  4. Children come with their own inbuilt personality – as much as you think you get to mould them – nahhh. From about 18 months Hippie Child screamed when she was put in a dress – it was pretty and pink and she looked so darn cute – then she screwed up her face and screeeeeeched until the offending item was removed from her person. To this day it is a struggle to get her into a dress and she would rather die than have even a touch of pink on her clothes.
  5. Some days you will look at them in awe and marvel at their ability, their talent, their perceptive thoughts and wonder where it all came from – other days you will look at them in horror, how could a child of yours be so insensitive, cruel, stupid and you’ll blame their father.
  6. You need to say goodbye to the woman you were before you had children. I’m sorry but you wanted honesty.  What you thought, what you believed, what you were going to do and achieve that all gets thrown into a whirlpool of emotion, activity, demands and after riding the rapids you emerge on the other side completely reinvented. You will need to mourn the loss of your former self and learn to embrace the woman you become but eventually you will. At some point you will even learn to appreciate the experience and pity the men who don’t get to know a total reformation of their entire being.
  7. You will be so tired you will think you are going to die of exhaustion. I’m not talking “oh dear I partied so hard I saw the sunrise” tired. I’m talking Guantanemo Bay sleep-deprivation torture tired.
  8. The baby/toddler years operate in dog years – every one year feels like it has taken six to pass – once they hit high school the years speed up – one year seems to take but a minute and you can’t believe they are talking about what they want to do when they leave school.
  9. There will be days you yell at your children (I know you don’t think that could possibly happen) but yes you do, they also yell back at you at times. When you feel bad about it cling to the fact that at least you are all releasing your stress and not building up cancer cells under a false veneer of politeness.
  10. You will make the wrong choices for your children at times.  A bad choice of school for Hippie Child saw me beating myself up about what an idiot I was – however, looking at her I think she developed some very valuable skills there – she learnt to swear, she learnt to cope with some of the worst teaching I have ever seen in my life (and some of the best), she realised that not everyone came from the sort of home she did, she figured out how to stand up to bullies, she learnt how to survive in a tough playground, she developed compassion and resilience.  When you get it wrong, fix it and get over it.
  11. You won’t have a clue what to do about work, and will probably try all sorts of versions, at the end of the day chose an option that suits you and your family and ignore anyone who disagrees with your choice.
  12. Every parent screws their child up in some way, no matter how good a parent you try to be there will be days when you say the wrong thing, aren’t patient enough, don’t pay enough attention – in the end all I’ve got left is offering to pay for the therapy when they are 30.
  13. Other women will be your best allies and your worst foes. Really women are their own worst enemies. We need to ditch the judgemental attitude (and there are times when we have all got it) and respect people’s choices, having children/or not, natural birth/caesarian, public school/private, stay at home/go to work – in the end we all want a happy fulfilling life, however the hell we get there.
  14. Your children will consume you, there may even be times when you wonder if you did the right thing getting pregnant in the first place. However, there will be evenings sitting around the dinner table when they are clever-funny, caring and thoughtful (in between talking with their mouth full and forgetting to take their plates to the sink) and you will realise you have created something wonderful.

20 thoughts on “Advice to Mums of Young Children

  1. I agree, Motherhood has to be experienced, each experience is unique and as wonderful as life, if you pay attention to your child for the 18 or so years you are blessed to be the mother of a child and then they are an adult and hopefully in time will give you another wonderful experience.. being a grandmother…

  2. Hello Janine! I awarded you with “The Most Versatile Blogger Award” over at my blog The Greener Bean. I totally don’t expect you to participate if it’s not your thing — I just wanted to say thank you for stopping by during NaBloPoMo!

  3. This is beautifully written and timely. Motherhood is a struggle just as life is a struggle. Thank you for putting a simpler spin on it all on one of those days when things seem… tough.

    • Hang in there it does get easier. There are still challenges and struggles but the physicality of it decreases, they become old enough to put themselves in the car, do up their own seatbelt, don’t need to be carried…and regardless of what people say about the teen years it is easier to negotiate/reason with a teenager than a two year old.

  4. I wandered over here via gosh knows how, only had one coffee this morning!. Ever so glad I did, everything you said is so true, No 12 rang a few bells for me, one year between work, and a looming birthday I forgot the birthday card, to this day that child still reminds me of my shortcoming that one time hahahahahah.

  5. I’m only 9 months in to this motherhood gig and so much of what you have said resonated with me, thank you! I especially agree with you about women being their own worst enemies at times and we do need to drop the judgement when it comes to parenting. I don’t know if you watched ‘The Slap’ or read the book, but it was triggered by the author’s shock at how judgmental his friends were when it came to parenting. Thank you for painting the picture of the moments at the dinner table that are simply wonderful, those are the things that make it all worth it and what I look forward to.

    • Yes I’ve read the Slap and watched the TV series – enjoyed them both. Congratulations on the new bub. It is a rollercoaster ride this parenting thing – but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel now (my daughters are about to turn 12 and 14) – that’s not to say it’s without challenges but I do like the people they are becoming and it’s fascinating watching them grow up. But the early years were tough – you do get through them but it takes a hell of a lot of effort.

  6. This is such a good read and so true! I’m pretty sure you have covered everything, but I particularly like No. 14. It reminds me of a comedienne (Mrs Hughes – check out YouTube for her), who relates how her 15yr old with attitude asks her: “So why’d ya have me?” to which she answers: “Well we didn’t know it was going to be YOU! We were hoping for someone with a job!”
    That said my husband and I have been blessed with our 3 girls and we are immensely proud of who they have become. The road is not always easy – we all know that, but given time I’m sure your offspring will amaze you too!

  7. My favorites are #3 and #7. RIGHT ON!!!
    This is all really great advice, and I am a mom of 3 and step-mom of 2 more so I know a little bit about the pain of parenting. 🙂 My oldest is 16 and the light at the end of the tunnel you just mentioned in a comment has faded….into a fast approaching subway train that is never going to stop until it runs me over and laughs on the other side. But, that’s on a good day.
    Keep at it. Love conquers all, quiets all and eventually draws all unto it.

    • You certainly do know about parenting – with 5 (including being a step-mom which I reckon has to be the toughest gig of all) – I’m lucky with my eldest who is pretty easy going, however I suspect with my youngest, once the hormones kick, in I’m going to be in for a bumpy ride, however at this point in time I am in denial – until the train runs over me.

  8. hi to all…love the comments and as a mother of a teenager of almost 18 and a toddler of 3yrs…I can say YES we do need more honesty amongst us all…one bit of invaluable advice I was given by a ‘dear old lady’ a total stranger to me at the time…she told the best bit of advice she got from her grandmother was….As a parent you CANNOT win all ‘fights or disputes’ with your child…so deal with the one or two you NEED to win today and deal with rest another day…I live by that still today and sure it has saved my sanity many a day…

  9. I’m late to the party, but wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post and did an awful lot of head nodding. Number 12 is something most of us would rather not talk about, but it’s true. I still see-saw between blaming and thanking my parents for moving us every year (in the middle of the school year usually!) while I was growing up, but in the end I know it made me the flexible, adaptable person I am today. Thanks for a great read.

    • So glad you liked the post. I agonised over moving my kids from Brisbane to Port Macquarie but it was the best thing for us, I don’t know how you coped with lots of moves when you were young but you are right it would give you a much greater flexibility as an adult.

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