For a little while now, I've been following the gorgeous Sky, mama of 4 via instagram and just love her, how real she is, and love everything she shares. This month's blog post has been written by her, she chats about motherhood, transitioning from 3 little ones to 4, made a list of all the non essential things so we think with our brain and not our hormones, how to save money and most importantly shares some pretty important advice ... You can read all her amazing blog posts over at https://blessedlifeblogger.wordpress.com & make sure to follow her on insta' @living_the_blessed_life_
"Mother of four~ It still blows my mind! Previously when I’ve met mothers of large families I’ve thought ‘Wow, how do they make it look so effortless?’ Yet here I am… Little old me, about to become one of them!
I actually started writing a Baby Essentials blog & had a moment where I thought, people don’t want to read just another list of the same old things they could have just googled… So I asked myself, if I could go back to being a first, second or third-time parent, what do I wish I had of known?
So here goes… A list of 10 things I’ve learnt along my parenting journey that are helpful for pregnancy, birth & beyond.
10- Some so-called ‘Baby Essentials’ aren’t essential!
So you’re pregnant. You’re excited. You’re not too sure what to expect. You want ‘the best’ for your new baby. Marketing companies know exactly how your hormone-filled body is thinking & feeling & they’re ready to pounce & cash-in our first-time-parents, feeding them full of all the so-called essentials they’ll NEED to succeed. They totally convince you that buying all of the ‘essentials’ will make you a better parent. So here’s a list of my ‘NON-ESSENTIALS’-
- Toys- I’m a big believer in babies entering the world in similar conditions as they had in the womb. They’ve lived through 9 months of bliss & all of a sudden are in a world that is bright and loud. Overnight they go from swimming around nudey in a warm spa being constantly fed, to wearing a nappy & clothes, being poked and prodded, experiencing new smells, sights, places & people. I’m sure you’d agree- A HUGE transition. They’re already so stimulated & overwhelmed by the world, without the need of in-your-face, bright, noisy toys being dangled in their faces & attached to their car seats and strollers. For those first few weeks especially, they literally don’t need any ‘toys’.
- Plastic Baby Baths- Unless you’ve got 6 arms they are useless. Firstly they’re such a pain to fill up & empty, then the actual bath time; you’ve got a soap-covered, crying, slippery octopus, half submerged in water & only two hands to hold your precious newborn baby in the right position, get the baby wash, wash & rinse baby, get them out & then wrap them in a towel & take them to get changed is impossible! The advertising of ‘baby bath times’ is the biggest scam ever. Not once have I experienced similar, you know the ones- the calm parents & babies smiling at each other, enjoying their bond over a lavender-soaked bubble bath? That image is so far from reality! In the early days, top-to-toe clean them with a warm washer. When they’re a few weeks old, move onto showering or having a bath together. Better still, it’s a great job for dad!
- Parenting guides/books- Ask friends. Read blogs. Use the internet, for free. No two babies are the same & I guarantee you’ll begin stressing that you baby isn’t ‘normal’ because they haven’t met the milestones outlined in your ‘baby bible’, they don’t sleep for the right amount of time, they cry too often ect… It honestly sets you up to feel like a failure!
- Baby nail clippers- The scariest thing ever! We’ve always nibbled our kiddies if they got too long. Sharp instruments and squirmy babies don’t mix!
- A nursing chair, I could count the amount of times on one hand that I’ve actually sat in the nursery to feed the baby. I’m not saying don’t splurge on a comfy seat for feeding as such, but you’ll likely spend most of your time in the lounge room or your bedroom. I know I have with every baby, regardless of if I had a nursing chair or not, I’ve always wanted to be out with the rest of the family. We’ve got a comfy recliner in the lounge room that I used with Harper & will do that same again this time.
- Formula- Yes you’ll want to be prepared if you’ve never had a baby before & don’t know how your breastfeeding journey will end up, but those first few days regardless, your baby will need your colostrum- even if it means you expressing it & feeding it to them via syringe/spoon. Hospitals are well equipped & will give you advice… If it comes to needing formula before you leave hospital it will be easy enough to organise. Unless you know for certain you’ll be formula-feeding, there’s really no need to buy bottles or a steriliser either… chances are they won’t get used & if they do it’ll be a few weeks/months down the track.
- & lastly, Anything that ‘promises’ your baby will sleep better/longer/quicker. There isn’t a miracle toy/machine. You just do what works… Routine works & if your new gadget happens to be a part of that ‘routine’ then people often get it confused with being a ‘miracle sleep-saver’. We’ve got lots of ‘sleep aides’- oils, diffusers, white noise, comforters, heart beat toys- pretty much you name it, we’ve tried it! Whilst for me some are part of our everyday life, especially the oils… I’m yet to find the ‘miracle’ product.
9- Do your research with the big items!
I can’t stress this enough, especially with strollers! There are so so many on the market & it can be tempting to go with the most stylish or the top brands simply because they’re on trend. We’ve owned 8 different strollers in our time, 8! Why? Because I was never satisfied. There were always faults. Always! I’ve pretty much owned every brand on the market & this is the first time I’ve ever been happy with my stroller, so much so that I’m not upgrading to a double just yet, we’re just going to make it work!
So you can read blogs, test strollers in baby shops, watch/read reviews, look at what your fave influencer ‘loves’… but nothing prepares you for how they really perform once you get out of the shop & there’s a real baby in there. If you know anyone with a baby or toddler, go try out their pram. Trying folding/unfolding it, putting into your boot, turning around corners, walking on grass ect. Ask people you actually know for their honest review of their own stroller/experiences. Ask them ‘What’s the worse thing about your stroller?’
The same goes for cots, baby seats, baby bouncers/swings, high chairs, baby carriers- do your research, with people you know & trust!
8- Buy second hand where possible!
We are really made to think we need ‘one of everything’ for the new baby. Every mum is made to feel like this & therefore the market is saturated with second hand items that were hardly used. From strollers, decor, toys, clothes, sheets, bouncers/swings, furniture… There are so many bargains out there that can save you hundreds! If you were trying to decide between buying a $200 ‘New’ Kmart cot & a $200 second-hand Boori Cot, I’d be choosing the better quality, used cot. The same goes from strollers… Spending $500 on a brand new ‘mid-range’ stroller is a waste of money when you can get a 6 month-old, top of the range stroller for the same price.
As a first-time mum, we bought everything brand new & looking back wasted so much money that we wouldn’t have even got a quarter of the price for when reselling. Where possible, save yourself money by keeping an eye out on Facebook marketplace, specific groups (Bugaboo Buy, Swap, Sell ect), Gumtree or local Carboot markets & Op Shops.
* There are certain things, like mattresses & car seats that should be purchased brand new but as for everything else- I say go for it!
7- Don’t value every single person’s advice/opinions!
Everyone’s got one. Some choose to share theirs. And usually people who are wanting to share their advice or opinions, aren’t the ones you want to hear from. Some haven’t even got children, or they had a newborn 20 years ago. Times have changed love, we’re living in 2019 now. Whether it’s about your baby sleeps, how to settle them, first foods or safety… try not to take them to heart. It’s funny, often the first question people ask me with my preggy belly is ‘Is this your first’ & when I say no, it my 4th it’s almost as if I’ve put a cork in their mouth. No one bothers offering their opinion or advice anymore… they don’t make comment on how you look, if they think it’s a boy/girl, how you’re ‘carrying’ ect. But I remember when they did & no matter how kindly their advice was worded, it always made me feel like I was failing at parenting. So don’t listen to the advice & make the promise not to ‘give it’ either. If mamas ever ask for my opinion I simply tell them what worked for me, along with ‘all babies are so different’ because they are & no one should be made to feel like their baby’s are ‘broken’ or their parenting isn’t good enough.
6- Don’t buy too many outfits!
It’s hard to stop yourself from going crazy buying a new cute little outfit every time you leave the house, especially if it’s your first… But you really don’t ‘need’ as much as you think. To be honest, there’s still 0000/000 clothes with tags on them in Harper’s cupboard that never got worn. It was even worse with Harlow, he was a big boy & skipped 0000 altogether. Keep receipts too, anything you don’t wash, you can always return if you don’t use them!
So here’s what I consider ‘enough’ clothes for a newborn, in a mix of newborn/0-3 months sizing.
- 6x singlets or singlet suits
- 5x long sleeve onesies
- 5x short sleeve onesies
- 5x Wondersuits or similar
- Socks & beanies
- A few cute outfits for outings
- 3x Sleep sacks/swaddles
Now I’m usually a pretty big Kmart fan, but in the case of baby clothing essentials, it’s not worth it! After two or three wears they’re stretched, stained, thinning & the material is ‘crunchy’. For items that get worn really often (onesies, rompers, singlets ect ) it’s certainly worth buying quality items that withstand frequent wearing & washing. If you’re sticking to a budget, try buying for the following season when everything is on sale or buy good brands second-hand. Target’s quality beats the other big chains by a mile in my opinion- Best & Less, Kmart, Big W are all of similar quality. I often find quality brands- Seed Heritage, Pumpkin Patch, Oobi ect at the Op shop & they’re always in good condition- still soft, still in their original shape ect, regardless of how many times they’ve been washed/worn. Once they’ve had a good soak & a wash they’re perfect!
5- Accept people’s kindness & offers!
Whilst heavily pregnant & those first few months postnatally especially. I’ve always been the one to decline people’s offers. Always. Whether it’s a comfier seat, skipping the line at public toilets, getting the table at the cafe with better stroller access, a home-cooked meal, coffee delivered, washing folded ect. Say yes! The people offering don’t care about the ‘better’ seat, folding your old granny undies, spending $5 on a coffee or taking 30 minutes of their day to cook a meal that would have taken you hours whilst juggling a baby. They’d probably love you to let them snuggle the baby whilst you wash your hair & shave your legs. Let them help!
4- It’s okay to feel overwhelmed
Parenting is hard. Not every day is sunshine & rainbows. Kids can be shit. They can test your patience. They can drive you absolutely insane, to the point where you lock yourself in your room and have a cry.
Babies cry- some much more than others & sometimes there’s no explanation- You’ve done everything for them. They’ve got a full belly, clean nappy, are well rested, don’t have a temp. You’ve rocked them, patted them, sang to them, took them for walk, put them in the baby swing, tried a warm bath, you’ve literally tried EVERYTHING… but you’re left there watching this little person scream to the point that you’re exhausted, you’re emotional, you’re broken. You’ll end up crying too. It’s normal. You’re normal. Yes, you’ll probably yell sometimes, say things you regret & have to apologise, even though they ‘started it’. You’ll have moments where your baby/toddler/child-who-knows-better has a public meltdown & you’ll want to disappear. They’ll bite, scratch and hit you, tell you they hate you. Be downright little turds & hurt your feelings.
Every now & then your kids might eat cereal for dinner because you’re too exhausted. You’ll lie about parties being cancelled, parks being closed & food that is too delicious to share being ‘spicy’. Here’s something- They survive & so will you!
3- Find a group of like-minded mamas-
This has been invaluable. Mothers groups have NEVER been my thing. I tried. Tried to ‘fit in’ with the parents at the very first antenatal appointment whilst pregnant with Charlotte. I tried again after she was born. I even went to ‘baby bounce’ classes at the local library with a bunch of strangers… not one friendship was made. When I had Harlow (& PND) it was the last thing I wanted to do & yet I tried again with different groups or ladies. I’d leave feeling so awkward- At the time I couldn’t care less about discussing & comparing stroller brands & dinner ideas. I was convinced it just wasn’t for me. Fast forward to having Harper & I can now see the importance. Whether it’s a Facebook group full of women that discuss baby milestones, coffee catchups with a few friends, venting to an ‘Instagram Friend’ or fortnightly mother’s group catch-ups, it’s so important to have people to vent to, mamas going through the same stuff that you are, people who open their arms & ears!
Whilst so many ‘professionals’ see social media is a place people are made to feel less than perfect, I find it the opposite. If you’re following the right accounts, you’ll see that mamas are real, they’re just like you. Some days they’re running on 3 hours sleep and ready to put their kids out with the garbage too!
2- Look after yourself, you’re important too!
Once your little bundle is here, they really are your whole world. I think each time I’m just as attached to the baby as the baby is to me… But you do need to look after yourself- both physically & emotionally. You’ll be a sleep-deprived milk machine for the first few months. Every day is so repetitive & can be so so draining… The days sometimes roll into each other & you wake from a nap not knowing whether it’s 5am or 5pm. You’ve gone from being somewhat ‘free’ to having a little leech 24/7. Having support around you is essential. Making your needs clear to your partner is so important, or you’ll feel like you are doing it alone. You’ll need them more than you think
If you’re as lucky as I have been, your partner will naturally step up to a whole new level- you’ll be calling on them for drinks/snacks/pillows & to do so many of the jobs that you would usually do. I’m sure some partners aren’t as great though & you’ll probably feel like a real bitch, but don’t try to do it on your own; tell them exactly what you need done, write them lists & shout orders at them whilst you’re occupied with the baby. The same goes for other children too, many hands make light work- get them to bring you things, put the washing into the machine, empty the dishwasher ect.
Allow yourself the time to get your regrowth dyed again, your legs waxed or a pedicure. Yes you’ll spend the whole time thinking about your baby & feeling guilty for ‘leaving them’ but eventually you learn to enjoy those minutes/hours on your own to unwind & come back feeling refreshed & loving your little human even more than when you left them 30 minutes ago!
Give yourself some dedicated time each day too… Even if it’s just a solo shower or a cuppa with the door closed, a 10 minute mindfulness meditation or playing on your phone- uninterrupted. It doesn’t sound like much but you’ll be surprised how much difference it makes!
1- Try to enjoy it, even the hard days
You hear people say ‘I remember when you were just a little baby’ or ‘time goes too fast, you’ll blink & they’ll be graduating school’. & you’ll be there rolling your eyes, I know I was! You really don’t understand these old fogey comments to the full extent until you’ve lived it with your own kids & realise it’s 100% true!
Leave the sink filled with dishes whilst you enjoy watching your baby sleep in your arms- those cute little facial movements and noises whilst they dream only last a few months. Enjoy them before they’re gone forever. Relax with a cuppa & a book or your favourite hobby rather than doing the housework or making an amazing dinner.
I can guarantee you won’t look back and regret the times your house was trashed because you were too busy lapping up newborn cuddles. You won’t look back in the future & remember the amazing meals you created or how perfect your house looked whilst juggling a newborn. You will think about how amazing their little fingers were gripping onto yours for comfort, or the time you watched them sleeping, their little bottom lip sucking in. You’ll wish you could smell that newborn baby scent & tickle those little toes one more time. It honestly goes so fast & doesn’t last long enough- enjoy every little bit of them before they grow up!
From one mama to the next, whether you are expecting your first baby or your 6th, whether your doing it solo, raising step-children, struggling to stay above water or killing it at life… We’re all learning & growing every single day! Whilst I’ve certainly learnt a lot through my 9 years of parenting I’m forever learning new things, being challenged by my kids & often you’ll find I’m just winging it!
Some days I’ve got it all together, the house runs smoothly, we all have a great sleep, everyone’s organised- dressed, fed and out the door on time. We spend our day at work/school/home & in the afternoon discuss the days triumphs & praise each other over a beautiful home-cooked meal. We spend the night relaxing in our clean house, playing peacefully & feeling so loved & ‘connected’ as a family.
Then there are days we’re up half the night, we wake up late & the kids wear uniforms off the floor from the day before. The baby cries all day, the house is trashed & I spend the day avoiding doing anything about it. The kids come home from school upset or one of us has had a horrible day at work & we just want a break from everyone. We’re tired, cranky & over each other, our kids, parenting altogether. It’s a battle to get homework & chores done, the kids argue & backchat. We eat toasted sandwiches or 2 minute noodles for dinner & either send the kids to their bed early or they stay up way past their bed time because we can’t be bothered trying any longer.
Whether today has been triumphant or a disaster, you can never tell just by looking at a mama. Mothers are the most selfless creatures on earth & we all deserve praise for the wonderful jobs we do! Each time you pass a mama at the shops/park, give her a smile, let her know she’s doing a great job- Whether she looks like she’s totally got her shit together or about to lose her shit! Let’s support one another, love one-another, admit that we’re not perfect & that we’re forever learning new parenting ways! Let’s not judge one another, you haven’t walked in that mamas shoes & don’t know what’s ‘best’ for her children. Most of all, be kind, always!
Sky~ Mama of 3~ Northern Rivers, NSW Australia~ Bebe #4 September 2019~ Primary School Teacher~ Homebody~ Vintage/Boho Lover~ DIY/Craft