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22nd Sep 2023

8 things that I wish I’d said ‘no’ to when I became a mam

'Anyone who has not specifically been asked for advice needs to be shut down.'

Being the parent of a brand new, tiny baby is the busiest time any of us will ever have.

They need us non-stop and on a level that we have never been needed before.

If we’re not feeding, holding, rocking, and soothing the babies, we are worrying about them while simultaneously scrubbing the floor and doing the laundry as they snooze.

Most of the things we worry about are valid because, as anyone will tell you, worrying and caring about your child is your main job as a parent.

But there are definitely some elements to it that we could do with caring less about, like getting our figures back, or wondering what that other woman meant in the supermarket that day when they said the pram was an ‘interesting make’.

1. Inviting Everyone Over

When our first son was born, we threw a huge party in our tiny apartment and invited everyone over to meet our new little man. He was about 2 weeks old. I remember sitting, bewildered, amongst a sea of coats on our bed while trying to breastfeed as the noise level rose to ridiculous levels in the hallway. Bad decision. Real bad.

2. Not Accepting Any Help

Why did I think I was so invincible when I was clearly so in need of someone to take over while I lay down for an hour (or three)? I actually turned a friend down who offered to walk our dog, as if that wouldn’t have been the nicest thing to let someone do for me that day.

3. Going Back To Work Too Soon

I totally appreciate that everyone has different set-ups when it comes to work, and therefore different allowances regarding maternity leave. I had my full six-month maternity leave but still somehow managed to sign myself up for a full week of comedy shows when our son was 5 weeks old.

4. Trips Too Far From Home

When our second child was about 2 weeks old, we all got in the car for a two-hour drive down the country to an afternoon birthday party. I was wrecked, the baby was WAY too small to be in the car seat for anything longer than 30 minutes or so and we ended up pulling onto the side of the motorway to get her out of the car seat and get her some air because she looked like she was suffering. And then I cried all the way home. It was the worst day.

5. My Body

I am a realistic woman who knows that whatever time it takes to put on weight, is precisely the amount of time it takes to get rid of it. I planned on both pregnancies to take it easy afterward and give myself up to a year to get back to pre-baby weight. What I forgot about, after my second child, was to only do gentle exercise if exercising at all, and signed myself up for a fitness class. Because my muscles were still all floppy and weak, I pulled my shoulder out trying to pull off a post-baby plank. And then I couldn’t exercise at all for another 6 months. Fail and double fail!

6. The House

We need to mentally strengthen ourselves against the unnecessary stress that comes from ‘not being on top of the housework’ when a new baby comes along. Divide out the chores, beg your mother to come over and empty the dishwasher – who cares? The main thing is that you feel well enough to take care of the little bundle who needs you, not that any grown-up is coming over who might judge your messy countertops.

7. Interference

“Thank you so much for your advice, but we have it covered”. Print this stock response out, laminate it, and stick it to your wall immediately. Anyone who has not specifically been asked for advice but who is offering it anyway (especially if it sounds like criticism or interference) needs to be shut down. If they don’t hear you the first time, say it again with feeling.

8. Those Who Didn’t Visit

It’s a real Irish thing to focus on the negative – the ones who ‘ruined it’, who didn’t come to the party, who made it hard for you, who didn’t make a fuss when a fuss was deserved… The greatest gift you can give yourself is to be eternally grateful for those who DO come to see you, who DO care and who really love you, and the adorable addition to your family unconditionally. This is a time for you to feel pure joy and happiness – nothing less will do!