Oh how I would have loved to be a third time mum with my first baby! Hindsight is the best foresight, and I can see now so many ways in which I could have been much happier and had a smoother transition to motherhood.
Of course becoming a mother is kind of like a phoenix rising from the ashes. There must be some burning first in order for that to happen! I was on an important journey and I can see now that I had to have those difficult experiences.
But allow me to fantasise for a moment... If I could teleport myself back to me as a first time mum and offer some of the learnings that have come with experience, this is what I would say.
Only Do One Thing Every Day
My husband and I spent the first 6 months of our relationship in India. Such a loud, hot, chaotic country was difficult to navigate. We used to have a rule that we would only set ourselves one goal to do each day. So on Tuesday we might buy train tickets and on Wednesday we'd go to the post office. It may sound crazy in our modern, fast paced life, but we found it was the best way to enjoy ourselves in that environment, without feeling stressed or hurried.
Fast forward more than a decade, here I am with my third baby and I have the same rule. I only set myself one goal a day with a newborn. Anything else is a bonus. Yesterday it was online grocery shopping. Today it's folding laundry.
Occasionally I get two things done in one day and it's cause for fist pumping and high fives!
The truth is, by the time I've showered and eaten, and spent most of my day and night breastfeeding and settling and nappy changing, I'm lucky if I even get that one thing done. Not to mention caring for my two older children!
For me, trying to achieve more than one task a day is a recipe for failure and frustration. I've learned to slow right down, and focus less on doing and more on enjoying myself, which brings me to...
Love Conquers All
It's my golden rule for Newborn Mothers and of course I live by it now too as a Newborn Mother.
Peace and joy ALWAYS take precedent. Simple things like putting on some music, essential oils, a bath or a cup of tea in the sunshine are TOP of my list.
Anything I can do to increase my oxytocin comes first, which is why there's only room for one 'task' or 'goal' each day. I make sure there is space in my day for reading books and spending time with my older kids and eating yummy food.
This is only possible because I've asked for lots and lots of help!
It takes time to get to know your new baby
Contrary to what some parenting paradigms teach, your baby is not a blank canvas. He or she is born with a personality and temperament, and you have to work with the baby you've got. Getting to know your baby and working with their unique strengths and challenges is crucial to your happiness, and your baby's!
As a mother you are a scientist collecting lots of tiny bits of information and forming a fuller picture of your baby than anyone else in the world.
YOU are the expert.
But this takes time. Don't expect to just transform into Mother Mary instantly after the placenta is born. Your baby's personality and temperament will unfold over weeks, months and years. Look at it as getting a degree at University, then going on to do your Masters and Doctorate, all on the unique topic of Your Child.
And you'll have to do it all over again for every baby you have.
In the meantime, resist the barrage of experts and parenting advice and focus on your baby. Nobody knows your baby better than you do.