Every stage of parenting is amazing. But the baby stage is one of the very best and often the one that we often forget to enjoy. Sure, we’re stressed. Sure, we’re sleepy. And sure, we think we’re doing everything wrong and screwing up our babies.
But the truth is, we are not. And we only realise this (and other critical things about raising babies) after our babies are no longer babies. Irony is an asshat, I know.
So, to the mum I was when my kids were still in nappies, here’s what you needed to know back then. Sorry this advice is four years too late…
Lack of sleep won’t kill you.
While it may seem impossible, your baby will eventually sleep through the night. And one day you will look back at all of those frustrating evenings, those 2am feeds, those all-night cuddles and, amazingly enough, you will miss them.
There will be plenty of time to spend unnecessary amounts of money on parties and presents.
So when they don’t know the difference between a $40 toy and the box it came in, don’t bother buying it. This goes for baby clothes as well – it’s easier to just dress them in a singlet and nappy anyway. And we promise they won’t care if they were not the best dressed baby at playgroup when they’re 15.
Baby smell doesn’t last.
It is replaced by a smell of sweat. And dirt. And chocolate that they stole from the pantry when you were in the toilet.
Parenting has changed (A LOT) since you were a child.
The world is a different place. And so are the rules. Sure, sticking to tradition is a good thing, but find your own parenting path without relying too heavily on what your own parents did.
People’s opinions really don’t matter.
You’re not ruining your child by letting her breastfeed to sleep. You’re not breaking the law by co-sleeping or offering her a dummy. You’re not the world’s worst parent for buying jarred baby food. Ignore those who make you feel like you are.
Socks are incredibly overrated.
Unless, of course, you are frequenting an indoor play centre. But baby socks are pretty much made purely so baby has something to kick off and for you to lose in the washing machine.
You don’t have to take a photo of everything. And you certainly don’t need to Instagram it.
Put the phone down. Use your senses to breathe in the moment and stop trying to capture everything through a picture perfect lens. Sifting through 75 photos of the same thing when you finally do decide to put together a baby scrapbook three years after the birth is really annoying.
It’s only a phase.
Pretty soon you will sleep. Pretty soon you will have your breasts (albeit saggier) back. Pretty soon you won’t be needed as much. So take the bad with the good.
Get rid of the guilt over ‘doing nothing’ all day.
You are taking care of a baby. That’s enough. If nothing else gets done and you spend all day in your pyjamas, that’s enough. Turns out, all those ‘urgent’ things weren’t actually urgent at all. Housework never ends. The baby stage does.
So, to all the new parents out there, take it from a mum who is watching her littlest baby blow out her fourth birthday cake candles this week, nothing matters more than relishing this baby stage.
And while you will always be a ‘mum’ to your kids, being a ‘mum’ to your baby only lasts such a short time. But, before you start feeling sad that your baby is no longer a baby, just remember the next chapter on your parenting journey – toddlerhood – is just as amazing (but hopefully filled with a few full nights’ sleep).
This note originally appeared in Babyology
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