Do you ever get days when you feel totally rubbish but you can’t put your finger on why? When It can be hard to explain how you feel. You just don’t feel yourself. When you want to say so much but just can’t talk at all. It’s not that there is anything particularly wrong as such but you’re just not right. For whatever reason every colour of your rainbow has faded to grey. When you get days where you’re so emotional and exhausted and feel like the world is on your shoulders. When you’re frustrated, agitated, restless. When you’re mind isn’t at peace. When the mask goes on and you have to put on a front. When everyday you have to pretend everything is ok. When you look after everyone else but yourself. People on the outside would never know that secretly you’re screaming from within. The days when you wish you could be invisible and shut the world out. When you want to be alone but not on your own. Sound familiar? Please know that you’re not alone. You are not weak. You are not a machine or superhuman. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to be vulnerable. But actually it’s usually the bravest, strongest people that can suffer the most. Because they’ve been so brave and so strong for too long. For me, the combination of an outgoing personality and an anxious mind is a constant torment. 40 million suffer with some form of anxiety and depression affects 1 in 3 people. It’s so important to talk about it. Or at least just write things down. I find it easier in words than to say it out loud. Don’t let it eat you up inside. It will get easier, you will find your spark again. Together we are stronger.
Surround yourself with people who raise you up and make you smile. The people who love you for you and accept you just the way you are. Family, friends, having your loyal support network of people who you truly trust and who are there to catch you when you fall is so important. Never underestimate how much you are loved and how much people care. Sometimes when the black cloud descends, it’s easy to feel like your a burden and that you don’t matter or how you feel isn’t important. Where you feel it’s just easier to shut yourself away and not talk about what’s going on in your head. How it’s easier to pretend you’re ok and block it out. To avoid people and situations and conversations because you haven’t got the strength. Believe me it’s hard. A constant daily fight, the inner struggle. But just remember that there is always someone who you can talk to, to reassure you, to comfort and support you. Even if you physically can’t get the words out, even if you did try to speak but couldn’t even begin to know where to start, it’s ok, write it down instead. Just breathe and let go, let it out. You do matter, you are enough, you are loved.
How many of you look in the mirror and wish that you could change something? How many of you see something you dislike or are self conscious of? I’d imagine quite a lot. I’ve spent years picking myself apart and criticising everything about myself. Constantly self sabotaging and putting myself down. Telling myself I’m not goood enough, I’ll never achieve anything. I’ve totally betrayed myself and abandoned all self respect over the years. Amongst many other things, my legs, for example, have always been the 1 thing I was self conscious about and I’ve hated the most. I used to do gymnastics and dancing so they’ve always been quite muscly. But now, I’m actually growing to appreciate my appearance more and just what the body can do. It’s time to change and enough is enough. Why do we put ourselves down? Why have we stopped loving ourselves? Why do we dislike how we look and wish to look like someone else? Why do we hate when our bodies change? It’s part of life, it’s part of our journey. Lots of us mummies have stretch marks from childbirth etc that I have heard some say they hate and wish the stretch marks would go but in my opinion they represent something truly amazing and beautiful. They represent your journey as a mother carrying a child. How, so many women who have miscarried and lost their babies would give anything to have scars and marks of pregnancy if it meant they could have become a mummy and hold their babies. Or those who have scars that have happened from a life changing surgery or trauma but it shows you are a fighter, a warrior, a survivor. I’m not saying you should be happy about having your scars or how they happened because of course our scars, in most cases, usually aren’t there for a good reason but what I mean is you can’t change what’s happened or the journey you’ve been through but just know where you are now and what you’ve gone through fighting and learn to love who you are going forward. You are an inspiration to many. My point is, don’t get caught up on things you don’t like, yes it can be easy to make small changes to make you feel better. But we need more self love than self hate. For a lot of people it’s a battle of how they look or if they’ve put on weight. Weight is always a huge factor for so many. I know when I’ve put on a few pounds I’ll make small changes to get back to where I’m happier. But it’s not always about weight as such but how you feel in yourself. Weight actually isn’t important it’s just a number. It’s about being happy and healthy and comfortable in your skin. There’s nothing wrong with losing a bit of weight here or there in a careful way if that’s what you feel you need. However don’t let specific things that you don’t like about yourself rule your life and make you miserable. We all have saggy bits, cellulite, wrinkles, marks, moles, lumps & bumps. Embrace who you are and how you look because you’re unique and all of our flaws and imperfections make us who we are and sometimes, what we don’t like about ourselves, others love! Learn to love and accept the lumps, bumps, wrinkles, marks, scars, wobbly bits, muscly bits. They all tell a story and makes us special and beautiful in our own way. We only have one body to live it with! Take care of yourself, be happy and be proud of who you are. There isn’t another like you.
Just take 5 minutes to stop take a moment to appreciate yourself and what you’ve done today to be proud of. It can be anything, anything that you’ve battled with, something small but that seems such a mountain. Something you’ve overcome? Something you’ve accomplished that you didn’t think you could? Maybe you’ve juggled everything from kids, shopping, cleaning etc and done loads of things on a to do list? Maybe you’ve had a really challenging day at work, thinking you’ll never get through everything you needed to? Maybe you’ve just made a start on putting a goal or plan in place? Whatever it is, just appreciate you as a person. We get so bogged down with whatever is going on in our lives and sometimes we may have that feeling of not achieving anything or feeling bad because of things we HAVEN’T done, when really we should be super proud of what we HAVE done. Don’t deny yourself of that value or self worth or accomplishment. We all have struggles, we all have bad days, we all have things we put ourselves down about, we all have days where we’ve not done all that we set out to do and it gets overwhelming when we think of all the negative stuff, but just stop 🛑 and give yourself a proud pat on the back for things you actually have achieved. For some, it could just be getting up to face the day, it could be getting out the house to go for a walk, for others it could be just doing your everyday to day parenting duties, you’re all superheroes, you’re doing the best job in the world feeding, providing for and nurturing your children, sacrificing everything yourself for to ensure they have the best. This is our natural instinct as parents of course but nevertheless we as parents still suffer sometimes and don’t get enough sleep, enough time, probably don’t eat properly when we should. But don’t beat yourself up about things. If you get to the end of the day and feel bad as the day hasn’t gone to plan, just remember you are amazing and are doing great even if you doubt yourself sometimes. Be proud of yourself. Love who you are, appreciate yourself for what you do and every mountain you’ve climbed, no matter how big or small.
It’s amazing how many times you doubt yourself as a mother. Or at least doubt your ability and if you’re doing the right thing for your child, making the best decision? How, all of a sudden you are blessed with this precious gift and are totally and utterly responsible for everything. Every single decision is on your head. This new little life is placed in your hands and no matter how many classes you attend or books you read or friend’s children you help babysit, nothing compares to having your own child. There is no rule book, no manual, no real ‘How to’ guide. There’s no real right or wrong, because everyone is different has an idea on how they’d like to parent. It’s just your instinct and those of others advice and experience. From that second, you question everything. Also to throw into the equation, is the pressure from other people who think their opinion and what they think, is right.
That pressure and feeling of being judged is there constantly. People giving their opinion on sleep routines, co-sleeping, feeding- whether ‘breast is best’ or bottle feeding, how to do this or that, whether they should be put into nursey at such a young age or be at home as long as possible, whatever it may be.
The thing is, no one’s situation or circumstance is exactly the same as someone else’s so it doesn’t really matter what other people say or think. It’s what is best for you and your child and your situation. Some people don’t have a choice on childcare or being able to stay at home. Some people can’t breast feed- or struggle with it and therefore are unhappy. I’ve always been told ‘happy mummy, happy baby’ especially when it came to breast feeding. I was lucky enough to be able to breast feed for approx. 3 months but then it became a struggle and Mia wasn’t getting what she needed, I cried a thousand tears, we were struggling all through the night, both of us exhausted, and therefore not sleeping well and being grouchy. This, in turn made me feel miserable and I felt like I’d failed. I switched to bottle feeding and Mia was happier and slept so much better. I could relax a bit more. It also meant it was less stressful going out anywhere because I found feeding so difficult in general but especially in public. I wasn’t one of these mothers that just could easily and casually whip out a boob and gracefully feed under a blanket. It didn’t come easily for me and sadly there is still so much stigma about feeding in public, which is such a shame, and to be honest shouldn’t make mothers feel insecure but sadly does. I completely respect and have so much admiration for mothers that breast feeding comes easy for. For me, being able to not worry about any of that and sharing feeds with her Dad was better for us all as a family and I finally let go of the guilt of not being able to feed her myself. I think a lot of mummies do put pressure on themselves for this. But I must stress that you don’t need to. You’re not alone and it’s ok to have these feelings of guilt. But you’re doing the best job and not to be hard on yourself. What’s important is that your baby is content and you are happy.
Your gut feeling and instinct as a mother is like no other. All of a sudden you obtain this almost superhero power. Don’t doubt it. It’s the most valuable tool you have. Use it and embrace it. Remember, what is best or what has worked for someone else might not be the same for you.
From the moment you become a mother, you go through so many emotional rollercoasters. Your body goes through more physical hurdles and albeit for a good reason, you are tested to the limit mentally, emotionally and physically, probably more than you ever will be in your life.
The one thing I’ve learnt is, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Mia’s dad was amazing and very hands on and helpful but I just wanted to be able to cope and do everything and manage without having to ask. I wanted to be able to get on with the feeds, the nappy changes, the bath times, the cooking, the washing, housework, cleaning and everyday stuff because on the outside everyone else seemed to be a natural at all this. But Mia wasn’t a great sleeper and I was exhausted. I was conscious of trying to do the night feeds mostly on my own because Mia’s dad had to be up early for work and had very long days on his feet all day. Tiredness is so underestimated. Sleep deprivation can cause real problems and can really affect your health. Obviously as a new mum, you’re going to be tired to some degree and you will feel shattered, but there is a limit on what you can do with the little energy you actually have. Extreme lack of sleep can cause paranoia, nausea, headaches, hallucinations, stress, anxiety, lack of judgement and concentration. You need to take care of yourself as well as the baby. If you’re not functioning then this isn’t good. I remember ringing my Dad one day in tears as I had just reached the limit of sheer exhaustion and I was drained. The problem was, I never wanted to let her out of my sight and it was like I never truly trusted anyone else with her. I know that sounds crazy but that’s how I felt. But something had to give. He came and took her out for the day so I could sleep and get myself back to some sort of ‘normal’ functioning state.
Some days can be really tough, some days you might struggle to see how you’ll make it through the day. Some days, you might not get anything done, you might not get dressed, you might not get chance to eat. You might not get to put the washing on or do the ironing. This is normal and most people experience this. You will eventually find your own way and routine. Eventually you’ll get it together and you will be able to actually eat and get dressed and get yourself out and about. To begin with, it does feel overwhelming, and you don’t know which way to turn or what to do next but most mothers feel like this to start with. You’ve gone from a life where all you have to do is take care of yourself, you can come and go as you please, eat when you want, sleep when you want. Then all of a sudden you’re responsible for another little person and your world is turned upside down and changed beyond all recognition. Even with all the books, programmes, advice or seeing other people’s family life, you can never truly understand or believe it until you become a mother. It’s ok to need help. It’s ok to need a break. It’s ok not to be able to manage and control everything. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, it’s ok to feel scared. It’s ok to cry, to have a rant. All these things are what actually make you a good mother because your body is doing a wonderful thing and it’s hard. Of course having a baby is the most beautiful, wonderful and exciting thing, but it can also be scary, stressful and at times, really hard. This doesn’t make you a bad mother to feel these things.
This time goes so quickly. All of a sudden you blink and they’ve grown up. These precious moments will go in the blink of an eye. The moments when they cry every time you put them down, the moments when they’ll only sleep when they lie with you, the moments when they wake up every hour, every night for weeks, the moments when you feel like all you are is a feeding machine. For the times when they get into everything, break things, scream and cry in the middle of a shop, for the times when all you hear is ‘Mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy’ every 5 minutes. For all of that, just remember it doesn’t last forever and they will be grownup and independent and won’t need you as much. Then you’ll be wishing for those precious, beautiful, irritating, and annoyingly wonderful moments of when they were growing up. Treasure every moment, treasure every tear, every sleepless night, every cuddle, every time they only want you and your arms. You don’t realise the power of a moment until it’s a memory.
Through the good and the bad, you’re doing a great job. You’re not alone. You are brave, strong, resilient, powerful and doing the hardest job in the world. Believe in yourself.