When you have a baby, you have many complex decisions to make around work and childcare and how these things are going to work together. Family finances, how you feel, you baby’s needs, childcare availability and cost, all come into play. The lack of flexibility in the workplace and childcare settings can make this choice even harder, forcing many women to consider remaining at home with their child and/or starting their own business.
Most of the mums this Mother’s Day will be exhausted. Having just finished, or at least approaching the end of another long period of home-schooling, characterised by a bigger juggle than normal.
Something I realised very quickly when I became a mama was that the role comes with worry and stress. Like, constant. There are tons of stressful situations I’ve been in over the years with the children, but by far the most stressful is if one of them has needed to go to hospital, or generally just been unwell. I hate it and I hate not being able to instantly fix it.
There’s no motherhood manual. Maybe you learn what you think you should do from watching others, from the way your were parented by your own mother, or other mother figure. Maybe you read books, or watch Supernanny even. I once knew someone who read Gina Ford and became an instant expert on all things baby – for about five minutes of motherhood.
Ask most mums what they like to do in their spare time and most will say “what spare time?”, they may laugh or snigger or just roll their eyes – I know I have in the past when people have asked me.
Dr Carla Runchman is a Clinical Psychologist, mum of one, founder of Mama Diary and author of ‘Mama Notes’, a notebook for the first 12 weeks of motherhood to help mums focus on their emotional well-being. Together with space to make notes on newborn essentials such as feeding and nappies, each week has a well-being focus with ideas or activities to try, and journal pages with prompts to help you reflect on the important moments of these early weeks.
I don’t think that anyone can ever be a perfect parent and I don’t believe in parenting experts. What I do believe though, is that as parents we become experts in our own children. That doesn’t mean we don’t get it wrong, hell, we get it wrong all the time, it just means we know our children best.
When I became pregnant with my fourth child I discovered very quickly that complete strangers were not shy in making a range of (mainly negative) comments.