The sun is almost up. I can hear the birds chirping away outside in the pre-dawn gloaming while I roll over sleepily for the final feed of the night, knowing within the hour I’ll hear Jman asking Steve what we’re doing today, demanding Weet-Bix and running in to cuddle me (or his sister. There’s a lot of love there). As T finishes up we both snuggle up under the doona for a final snooze and I feel contented. Happy. Complete.
It’s been three years since I wrote this post about entering motherhood. I flicked through it again recently, nodding my head at what I’d written while also laughing a little. It is so earnest. So serious. I can remember sitting in my car, tapping away at it on my phone as Jman slept and the whole parenthood thing felt so very real and hard and full on.
Oh the difference a tiny bit of time can make. I can only imagine what my mum and Grandma have thought, watching on these past three years. And although a lot of what I wrote last time is still pertinent second time around, I thought I’d update the list a little more for past Kylie, and if it helps anyone else that’s an added bonus. So here we go.
- Everyone is making it up as they go along. They really are.
- Treat yourself like you would a toddler. I’m blatantly stealing this from my friend Steph. Feeling like you’re totally out of juice? What would you say to a melting down toddler? Are you hungry? Tired? Do you need a cuddle? A bath? A song to dance it out to cranked up loud? Apply the answer to yourself accordingly.
- Life will return to normal. Eventually. But it will be a new normal.
- Everything is a stage and will pass eventually.
- Never touch a sleeping baby. No, really. Never touch a sleeping baby.
- One day they will ask for Dad and your heart will break even while you breathe into the space it creates.
- Let go of rigidity about routines and instead find a daily and weekly rhythm that works for everyone. Mornings out, afternoons in the yard, a daily chore and an early family dinner seem to work best for us.
- Know when to throw out the plans, defrost a dinner from the freezer and spend the day playing in the yard with the hose.
- Kids really have no regard for how you thought parenthood would be. Remember this.
- Also know when to strap on a carrier and get on with your day while a babe naps on you rather than fighting against it.
- You really don’t need screens on as much as they are. It doesn’t help anyone in the long run.
- Never underestimate the power of a packed lunchbox.
- You will always regret that third tea or coffee.
- An early bedtime is better than two hours trying to get a 40-minute nap to happen.
- Adding a sibling is a wild card you can’t prepare for.
- Learn to say no. No to every day being spent out and about; no to yet another craptastic toy entering the house; no to visitors when there’s a new baby; no to a car trip that will result in endless screaming; no to the 20th load of washing done at the expense of playing with your kids.
- You don’t have to do it all alone. Ask for help when you need it, lean on your partner when there’s no juice left in the tank.
- Be an adult and realise that goes both ways. Some days you will have to carry the load because they can’t. It swings both ways.
- Be wary of insisting on “me” time at the expense of “we” time. You will miss out on many precious moments that way. Instead, as your yoga teacher once said, integrate self care into your day rather than have it as an addition that you need to find yet more space for.
- That being said, find a way to fill your tank. Read, journal, move your body, listen to an audiobook or podcast while cooking, cook good food, get outside, lie on the couch and watch a movie on a hot afternoon. Everything will flow better when you do.
- Learn to sit in silence each day. However, accept sometimes that will look like headphones in your ears while you sit under two kids and attempt to ignore the endless wriggling.
- Dark chocolate and red wine is good for the soul. So is a green smoothie or a meal full of veggies. Find a balance between the two.
- A freezer full of tasty, nourishing, home cooked meals is your best friend when days go to pot or you’ve had to work late.
- When two sisters-in-law told you not to lose yourself in motherhood, they were right. Remember who you are without your kids and work hard to maintain that person.
- You will yell. Accept that, but also learn to apologise. Being the adult doesn’t always make you right.
- People like to “should” at you. Ignore them and instead work out what works best for you and your family.
- If musical beds means everyone sleeps, then let it happen.
- Hand-me-downs are golden.
- So are cloth nappies.
- Kids need far less than you think they do.
- The days are long but the years are short. Truly.
- Remember to enjoy your kids.
Now to you. What would you tell your past self?