I’ve stopped the sudden rush of tears now, opened the handmade gifts and cards, been entranced by my little girl’s rendition of a mother’s day song carefully remembered from school, and am smiling at the thought of her leading daddy round the shops to make sure a suitable gift was chosen.
It’s not something that anyone would or should claim to be expert on, but on Mother’s Day 2011 I thought I would run through my top tips for staying sane and enjoying the journey.
1. Ignore all advice you are given, whether sought out or offered; you can spend your time reading books for tips, listening to people who have been there and also people who haven’t, everyone has an opinion that is likely not to match with yours, so just trust your instinct, go ahead and do what is right for you, your situation and your child.
If you’re with still with me and prepared to listen on, on to number 2…
2. You don’t need a baby wipe warmer. There is so much stuff you can buy, bath supports, bouncy chairs, baby walkers, specially shaped towels or blankets or babygros, an endless list of mostly things you don’t need, won’t have room for in the house, and can’t wait to offload. Keep the house clear for when the junk models and the endless stream of paintings start coming home from school and nursery, you will need the space for sure and then some.
3. Feed them yourself. Breastfeed them if you can it’s an amazing and precious time, but no-one said breastfeeding is immediately easy, so if it isn’t, get help. And if it doesn’t work out, get over it. And when they get older, feed them yourself, as much fresh food as you can, and sit down as a family to enjoy food together. We’re even trying together to grow our own food, even better to have been involved in it and less excuse then to refuse your vegetables.
4. Praise them, nurture them and laugh with them. Often quoted by guilty parents is ‘the one about parents saying nine negative things and only one positive thing for every ten things you say to children’ and ‘the one about children laughing 300 times a day while adults only laugh 15 times’. Seeing their faces light up when you say something positive to them makes it a conscious decision to continue, and it’s bound to make everyone smile more.
5. Learn with them. We live in rural South Oxfordshire where there are more pigs than people, and my little boy has developed something of a tractor fixation; in a short car ride from here to a singing class, he has been known to manifest up to six tractors on the way, and can name manufacturers and types of farm vehicle quite competently. As a family we are now looking forward to meeting the real Tractor Ted, star of countless real-life farming footage dvds, and his road show in Cirencester in May for a great family day out. Nurture their passions and watch them grow, it’s fabulous growing with them.
Sometimes the tips work, sometimes we have less successful days, and I wouldn’t pretend otherwise, but it’s a precious short time to enjoy every day, whether good or slightly less good. And finally, a bonus tip, courtesy of my favourite auntie – champagne doesn’t count (well some advice you can’t help listening to!). Have a happy mother’s day!