Notes for mums

My top tips

Parent yourself before any of your children. We may see advice from just about every parenting expert that focuses on how best to care for our kids, but our parenting ability (or limits) often start with self-care (or lack of it). In order to be the best version of yourself, the mother you want to be, you need to speak to yourself with love, care, self- compassion and understanding. Parenting will challenge you and your limits in every way possible. You’re going to be okay and work through this huge learning curve and transition.

• Motherhood is like being in a time machine – never before has time gone so fast yet so slowly. The days are long, but the years are short. Things you remember as though they were yesterday end up being many months back. Take as many videos and photos as you can, and ask other people to do this for you so you can really be present in the moment and physically in the photos.

• Nurture their nature. Every child is different, just like every adult. If you have more than one child, you’ll very quickly realise you need to adapt your parenting to their needs rather than the other way around. They are who they are. That is why it’s important to get to know your baby. Although expert advice may be helpful, nothing will ever trump how well you know your baby. Try to look inwards before seeking external advice and following any advice that doesn’t feel right for you. Feel free to brush it off, keep your chin up, and have confidence.

• Try not to take crying personally. It’s a lot easier said than done. Georgie just turned two years old and I have to remind myself of this regularly. Crying or even screaming is a baby’s only form of communication for a long time. Babies under six months usually need something fixing/feeding/changing, etc. Older babies will also ‘cry for need’, but sometimes they just ‘need to cry’. There will be a day (or several) when you go through everything you can to fix it for them, or offer solutions, and still they cry. Know that it’s not because you’re a bad mum. Sometimes they need to cry and release emotion. Especially as they get older. I first see if I can fix why she’s crying and, if not, I allow her emotion to come to the surface, offer her a cuddle or security, and let her work through it.

• Everything is worse at night. Everything! Your tolerance and their discomfort. From a bit of nappy rash to a tooth erupting. There are no distractions after dark and you’re exhausted – willing to do almost anything to get some sleep. Your patience may wear thinner than ever overnight. The sun will rise and you will get through those dark nights and moments. Make sure you ask for help the following day, and go very easy on yourself. It’s okay (in fact preferable) to cancel a class
My top tips lunch date if you need to and nap with your baby, or sit in your PJs and recover from the stress.


I clearly remember one night with Georgie, after five months of sleep deprivation, this one night was the worst night of our lives so far. She cried on and off all night until 5am. By then I felt like my world was ending. I wasn’t even a person let alone a mother. I went into the garden (mid-Jan) in a T-shirt and my massive Bridget Jones knickers to do some deep breathing when I heard her start crying again. I didn’t have it in me to go back inside straight away. I finished my deep breathing and let her cry for a minute. I was at the end of my tether and had lost all ability to function. That day we had plans, but instead I didn’t shower or get changed. I sat with the TV on, ate chocolate cake and allowed myself to rest as much as possible and recuperate. It’s okay to put yourself first – especially if that preserves your mental health.

• You may not be an expert in child development, but you are an expert in your baby. Always remember that and if your intuition tells you something, follow it. Mother’s intuition is a really powerful one and the bond you two have is greater than any amount of expertise. You know your child, so have confidence in that knowledge.

• Just when you think you’ve nailed it, it all changes. Try not to focus on the disruption of the change and instead focus on what you can do to go with it or how you can adapt. Always far easier said than done and I still very much have to remind myself of this. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions associated with change and the confusion, but the best use of your limited energy is to accept and move with the change. Unless it’s a change you’re not willing to accept, of course. Usually phases pass, but you may want to approach these situations differently and implement boundaries.

• What may seem like the biggest issue you’re facing right now will soon be a memory or sometimes even un-rememberable. They’re soon on to the next phase and it all happens so fast: ‘This too shall pass.’

• Babies are not born with the capacity to understand movement and predict its consequences. They have to learn this, which is why

My top tips they often love dropping items on the floor or observing movement. Encourage or allow this where possible because it’s a part of their development – hugely annoying though it can be to be forever picking up the toy they love dropping.

• Our brains exist to drive behaviour and to take in information from the world and act accordingly. One of the most important things for us to teach our babies is how to belong in the context of the world in which they live. Considering what is important where they are growing up, how can you improve their understanding of this time and day and age? Applying your history or how you were parented may not be applicable or at all relevant to them. Have the confidence to recognise that and parent in a way you feel is effective for raising your child in the context of their time.

• You won’t always get it right and that’s okay. Instead, you’ll learn, grow and change. Forgive yourself for the times you get it wrong and move on quickly. If possible, recognise and own your mistakes – we are human and we all make them. You can only ever do your best given your circumstances. Redemption is powerful.

• The more honest you are with other mums, the stronger you’ll feel. Keeping things – feelings, struggles and frustrations – to yourself can lead to feelings of loneliness. I am sure that anything you have struggled with I likely have too, and if not me, then another mum certainly will have. Anyone who judges you for being honest is not your friend. Harsh but true. The very last thing you need is judgement. You’ll likely do enough of that to yourself. You need to be able to open up and bond over the shared hardships. I have a very good friend, Michelle, and although we experience different things, she has not once judged me. She listens, validates and offers potential solutions. Sometimes she just listens and comforts me without trying to fix things. Find your Michelle; she’ll change your mum life.


I was a massive people pleaser. I would put myself out for other people, drag myself to events/parties I really didn’t want to go to, and rarely ever said what I really thought – for fear of upsetting those around me. I have come to realise that some of those traits, although coming from a good place, are damaging. I would let my friends buy me things I hated because I didn’t tell them right away. I’d end up in situations

My top tips didn’t want to be in, wishing I had said no to begin with. People would occasionally mistake my kindness for weakness and take advantage of me. I would finally notice this and then erupt. I’d suppressed my own needs and feelings superficially but they were there, deep in my core. And my goodness did they show up eventually. Erupting is not cool or pleasant, and achieves a whole lot of nothing. It’s often the result of people-pleasing, though. The more you try to please everyone, the more unhappy you become because you’re not able to live authentically. This is a generalisation, but people are easily offended these days, making the people pleasers feel even more on edge. If people don’t like you for being yourself, maybe it’s time to question if they really are ‘your people’. Motherhood can be a great time to implement less people-pleasing and more authentic living. For you and your whole family. You’ve got this. ‘If you find yourself in a friendship group that makes you feel worse, it’s probably time to find a new village, or not necessarily fall out with those people but find the ones to spend time with who make you feel good. Also, sometimes you are parenting differently to how your parents or grandparents did, and you can feel undermined, or they can make you feel bad or that you’re doing something wrong. Find other mums whose values are a bit more aligned with yours. It’s not about falling out with other people but just finding those who are going to support you in that period of your life.’ Laura Smith, specialist community public health nurse (health visitor) Ebonie Chandraraj, specialist community public health nurse (health visitor) @gentlehealthvisitors

• New mothers need to be mothered. I love the saying ‘The nurturer needs to be nurtured’ because it’s so very true. Although the self-care bandwagon has been drummed up for a long time, or maybe misrepresented, it’s always worth promoting in motherhood. As I’ve mentioned, self-care looks very different for different people, and caring for you, as early into motherhood as possible and as often as possible, is a crucial part of promoting good mental health and self- compassion. 


• Guilt will show up in your life. Likely more than ever before. Allow the emotion, sit with it, find out what it’s teaching you and try to let it go. Every mum feels guilty about something. We can’t avoid it, but what we can do is be compassionate towards ourselves when it does show up and remind ourselves that no human walking the earth is perfect. They never have been and never will be. You’re doing amazing.

• Becoming a mother yourself may lead to feelings of need to be with or near your own mum. Conversely, it can also bring up feelings of resentment towards your own mother – depending on your upbringing and any differences over your parenting styles. Either one is a natural response to this shift in your life as you walk into the world of motherhood yourself. Yet again, notice how you feel, try to address it and, if you’re able to, speak to someone you trust about your feelings.

• An identity crisis can be tough. Who are you? Are your dreams, goals and any aspirations you have falling by the wayside? Is the person you were pre-baby still there? These questions and more are hard to answer, but they do not need intervention. Sometimes life unfolds and we take a different path; we pause on our path and later continue, or we stop altogether. All of these are okay. There’s no rush to ‘get back’ and you can’t force time to pass. It’s best to accept where you are in your life at this time.