When I discovered I was pregnant for the first time, I quickly took to the task of preparing for my baby’s impending arrival.
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail
I researched prams, I assembled the cot, I bought and washed the tiniest onesies I had ever seen, ready to put in my oh-so-carefully packed hospital bag.
I spoke to other new mums, hoovering up any titbit of advice they deigned to give me. I made lists, went through my childbirth options (back when the illusion that we actually have a choice in the matter was yet to be shattered!) and read stacks of parenting manuals that told me how to settle my yet-to-be-born infant.
As I did all of this, my dad’s advice rang loud and clear in my ears; “Fail to prepare and prepare to fail.”
Read more posts about being a mum:
- Postnatal essentials: 7 items you’ll need after giving birth
- How to make a mum friend – and why you totally should!
- Got 30 kid-free minutes? Here are 10 quick things you can do to treat YOU
- Postpartum care crisis: Do new mums “slip through the cracks”?
Some things are out of our control
I had all bases covered and thought that I could succeed at parenthood purely by being organised.
Of course, I was wrong.
What I hadn’t prepared for was the fact that babies and children are completely unpredictable. Each new age and stage comes with its own unique set of challenges and milestones.
No amount of list-making will stop sickness from striking or help your little one sleep though the night (I mean, you can put ‘ask baby to sleep for eight hours solid’ at the top of your to-do list, but I can’t guarantee it will happen).
I quickly realised that when it comes to raising kids, it’s impossible to be prepared for everything when so much is out of our control.
Know when – and how – to ask for help
Despite our best efforts to ensure that it does, there are times when life refuses to run smoothly. Like when your childcare falls through at the last minute or you’re trying to navigate the school run when your other child is unwell (turning up to the school gates with a sick kid in tow is like watching the parting of the ocean – everyone scarpers out of your path).
Whatever the crisis, sometimes you just need someone to swoop in and lend a hand.
But, as a self-confessed do-it-herself, asking for help along this parenting journey has been a constant struggle and one I really wasn’t prepared for. There’s strangely no mention of it in the parenting manuals, but knowing when (and how) to ask for help has been one of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome.
Accepting help is good, asking for it is even better
For the longest time, my tactic was to feel increasingly overwhelmed and hope that someone would eventually notice and offer to help – but that didn’t always work. So now, when I need help, I ask for it.
However, before I got to this point, I had to acknowledge that needing help isn’t a sign of weakness. If anything, it shows that you are strong enough to recognise that you need a bit of assistance. No one is judging you for not being superwoman (and if they are, they have far too much time on their hands).
Immediate family members – grandparents, aunties and uncles – are usually my first port of call, but if you feel like you don’t have anyone to ask, it might be a good idea to build up a support team around you. This could be made up of friends, family or fellow parents. Take the first step by offering someone help when you can see that they need it and you are able to give it. Be each other’s backup. I find it much easier to ask for help from someone if I’ve been able to help them out in the past.
They say it takes a village to raise a baby, and there are no prizes handed out for those who do it alone – take it from me.