Becoming a Mum was without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me, but it was also incredibly overwhelming in the beginning. I was the first one of my friends to have a baby and as such in the early days I often felt like I had no one to talk to about all things motherhood, from what must have baby products I should buy, to what to do if they weren’t feeding properly or when I should start weaning them. Vicks BabyRub got in touch with me recently to see if I wanted to write a letter to my first time mum self. I thought it was a lovely idea – to reflect & share all the things I went through and what I learnt along the way. I’m sure we can all relate as second time parents to how overwhelmed we were in those first few months and how different it is the second or third time around with those pearls of wisdom. While I still feel some days like I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to parenting, I like to think three children later that I have become a lot more laid back and I realise that I don’t have to be a perfect mum, I just have to be their mum.
Vicks BabyRub is a new product within the Vicks range for babies six months and older. It is the first of its kind and is a multipurpose product providing moisturising & soothing comfort for your baby. It contains natural aromatic extracts of soothing aloe vera, calming rosemary and lavender, gentle enough to be used as part of a baby’s everyday routine. You simply rub across your baby’s chest and stomach to moisturise and help him or her feel relaxed at night time. It is ideal for use after bathing, before sleeping and for other daily occasions to offer babies comfort and relaxation. I’ve been trying it out on Wren (I wish it had been out when he was smaller) and he really enjoys this new part of our routine- he has a bath and then we snuggle together on our bed and I give him a little massage. Bedtime can be crazy with three children but in the last few weeks we have started to do things to make it easier, things such as that few minutes of one on one time with Wren while the big girls are in the bath, then I give him some milk and put him to bed and then I snuggle with each Maddie or Lottie and we have one on one time reading together, while Jon reads to the other.
Here is my letter to my first time Mum self…
Dear ‘First Time Mum Me’.
It’s 3am. Or it could be 2am. Or even 5am. Who knows. All that matters is you are awake. Your eyes are barely open, they feel puffy with tiredness as you haul yourself out of bed to the sound of your baby crying. You scoop her out of her cot, bring her in your bed and give her some milk. You haven’t looked at the time but you know it’s early, the house is pitch black and you can hear the faint noise of the cars on the main road in the distance. Even the early morning commuters aren’t up yet. She settles down and you lie there together peacefully, although you don’t sleep again. Your warm bodies are entwined and you wait for the alarm to go off to signal it’s time for your husband to get up for work. You doze and close your eyes, but sleep feels pointless. Your eyes sting they are so tired, your body feels heavy with exhaustion. It feels like you are the only person in the world awake.
Becoming a mother for the first time was amazing, it was the best day of your life, but at the same time you didn’t realise just how overwhelming it would be. You had no idea what to expect. You were the first of your friends to have a baby, you didn’t have anyone to call on in those early days bar your own mum. When you were pregnant you read every baby book under the sun you could get your hands on, you spent hours in online forums talking to other mums to be, finding common ground, analysing your pregnancy symptoms and discussing the best places to get deals on nappies and wipes. But none of these things could really prepare you. Prepare for how it feels to actually hold your baby in your arms. That overwhelming sense of love, fear, excitement and worry. Knowing that life will never ever be the same again. You remember at first being terrified to change a nappy. Looking back now it seems almost laughable, but her little legs seemed so delicate, you felt like you would snap them if you moved them in the wrong way. Because you had a c-section it was down to your husband to get her dressed for the first time and you remember feeling such a sense of relief knowing that you didn’t have to do it. You were scared to get it wrong.
You’ve been a mother for almost seven years now. I know I can’t believe it either, you said you were done after two, but you weren’t deep down. I’m not sure if you ever will be. And you were lucky enough to have your most perfect little boy after your two precious girls. In those nearly seven years you’ve become far more familiar with your strengths and weaknesses and you feel like while you don’t have motherhood sussed (because lets face it who does?), you feel like you can now offer advice to your new mum self.
So here is third time mum me writing a letter to you, first time mum me with some advice that I wish I had known in those early days…
-To begin with you are in your newborn bubble, where it is just you against the world. That feeling of love radiating from all the people who care about you. Where you feel like the most special person alive, after all you created a human. But all too soon it’s time to get back to normal. Albeit a new kind of normal. Sometimes these early days aren’t easy, motherhood isn’t easy, but it’s 100% worth it I promise you. Sit on the sofa with your baby all day long eating chocolate, watch endless reruns of your favourite tv show, and take mid morning naps just for the hell of it. You’ll never ever get this time back and you will wish you could go back and do it all again, even if it feels like the days are long. NEVER FEEL GUILTY FOR SITTING ON THE SOFA. The housework can wait.
-Motherhood is easy when everything goes right. But a lot of the time it doesn’t. It’s the ‘doesn’t’ times when you will feel like a ‘proper’ mum. Moments where you feel this raw emotion that comes with being a mother. Like those times in the middle of the night when your child has a temperature and just wants their Mummy. Or when they fall over and you get this instinctive urge to protect them and take the pain away. It’s these moments, that technically are supposed to be tough, that are genuinely the sweetest. To feel that satisfaction and utter love that comes with being the one your babies need. That you are the one that makes it all better.
– It’s isn’t always plain sailing. It’s not always about picture perfect photos, happy days out and ticking off milestones. It’s about having that instinct in you to know when your children need you, whatever age they are. It’s about the simple things, the ordinary moments and the little gestures. The day to day life and the mundanity of routine. And as soon as you take that little person in your arms the moment they are born, you learn what it is like to love someone unconditionally. Through the amazing times, the rough times, the ordinary times and the day to day times. There will be lots of ordinary moments. But in time you’ll realise that the ordinary ones are the best ones.
– Parenting can sometimes be tough, complicated work, and too often we struggle with feelings of self-doubt about the job we’re doing. Are we involved enough? Too much? Do we work too many hours? Do we play enough? Did we put them in front of the tv too much today? So and so’s baby eats organic veg and you are lucky if yours eats a fishfinger, are we setting a good example? Do our kids feel loved, listened to? Add social media and this sometimes overwhelming pressure of perfection and we can so easily stray from what really matters–the simple family moments that make it all worth while. Remember those moments above everything else.
– In those early days the lack of sleep can be rough. You’ll feel exhausted. You might even cry in the night because you are just so tired (you will have a fair few 1am sobbing sessions). But it gets easier. I promise. I am sat here now with three children who pretty much sleep through and I even weirdly miss those days. Every other parent is going through it (unless you have one of those babies that automatically just sleep well from the beginning. There will always be one of those at baby groups. Don’t judge that mum for being smug. Celebrate her and make her feel good for having a sleeping baby because you can guarantee she is probably looking at you and feeling bad about herself as you have something good going on that she doesn’t.)
-You don’t have to dread the nighttimes. I know I did at first. It would start to get dark outside and I would begin to dread what lay ahead of me. You will have nights where it does feel like you are the only one in the world awake. But you are not, all parents go through it.
– Don’t rush to put your baby into a routine in the early days. Just enjoy being with them and don’t worry about the fact that you aren’t in a routine yet. Six months is an ideal time to start. Try and enjoy it and enjoy the routine of getting your baby to sleep and find one that works for you. Have a relaxing bath together with some lovely mild bubble bath. Get out and put on some lullaby music and give your baby a massage (go to baby massage if you can as it is such a bonding moment with your baby). Try something like Vicks BabyRub to help soothe your baby. In fact, 92% of parents say that Vicks BabyRub helps to relax their baby at bedtime. Vicks BabyRub provides comforting care for delicate skin, together with mild fragrances of Rosemary, Lavender and Aloe Vera.
– People will bombard you with all these amazing sleeping devices that helped their baby sleep and you most probably believe the hype. Sometimes all your baby will need is an extra cuddle to settle them at night and a nice relaxing routine. But try other things to help settle them, even if it is for your own sanity. Get Ewan the damn dream sheep if it makes you feel better. It doesn’t hurt to try.
– Your motherhood journey will often feel like it’s broken down into stages. There’s those big stages- the newborn days, the baby days, the toddler days and the days before school, the big milestone days that get ticked off one by one. First smile… check. First tooth… check. First time in a big girl bed… check. First time on a play date without Mummy… check. Every stage that passes and every milestone reached, however great, you’ll feel like your are mourning in a weird sort of way. You’ll mourn the day your baby stops wearing babygrows, you’ll celebrate the day they start sleeping through the night but then you’ll look back and feel sad a little that those in the night cuddles are now over. But for every stage that passes that feels so utterly bittersweet, there’s actually another wonderful stage ahead. Remember that. The newborn days, they are oh so delicious, with those soft baby heads and endless hours breastfeeding, snuggling and marvelling at this little person you created. There’s those teeny tiny onesies, washed over and over again, the night feeds where although you are exhausted you feel like it’s just you and your baby against the world. But as much as you’ll love to look back on them with fondness (and remember the hardness at times), each stage that you’ll get to really is special. That’s the beauty of watching these children grow up.
– Always eat the cake. And the chocolate. You’ll need it for energy.
– Never compare yourself. There is always going to be the mum who makes the best paper mache castle at school. There’s always going to be the one who prepares the home cooked meals from scratch, or who organises the best activities. You are more than enough for your children. You are their world.
– Sometimes you’ll feel like you want to have a good old cry for no reason in particular. Having a good cry is like an emotional clear out. And if you don’t ever feel a little emptiness from time to time, for whatever reason, then you wouldn’t ever know the satisfaction of feeling full again. It’s ok to say it’s not always perfect every now and again. Perfection comes in the imperfection.
– It’s also ok to have tough days as without the tough ones we wouldn’t treasure the good ones. It’s ok to look at the dark circles under your eyes and feel a bit crap about it, because those dark circles signify night time snuggles with a little person who one day won’t need them anymore. It’s ok to feel a bit rubbish about your tummy, as that tummy gave birth to these amazing children who you are thankful for every day. It’s ok to have days where you seem to suck at this parenting malarky, because it makes you appreciate the days that you feel like a superhero. It’s ok to make the odd mistake, because then you get to learn from them.
– Speaking of mistakes. You’ll make lots and then you’ll fix them and then you’ll make some more, and you’ll often wonder what your children will say twenty years from now about how you raised them. Half the time when making parenting decisions you won’t have a clue what you are doing, but that newness is thrilling. You won’t have all the answers but you have good instincts and you love your children more than anything in the world. That combination makes you the most amazing mum.
– There are two ways to look at one ordinary day of parenting. You can focus on everything that went wrong, the squabbles in the back of the car over each of them wanting the same toy, the umpteen times throughout the day you raised your voice, or the fact that healthy dinner you cooked might as well been thrown back in your face for the response it got. Or you can focus and meditate on your blessings, the giggles as you play together on the living room rug, those intoxicating after nap sleepy snuggles, or the look in those sparkly blue eyes as they laugh and they make ‘smoothies’ out of bubbles in the bath. Always try and do the latter even though you nearly always want to do the opposite.
As parents we naturally evolve. We figure things out. Don’t worry too much about the future. All those questions you have? You’ll figure it out. You love your children more than anything. And that’s all that matters.
The moral of the story? Motherhood has never claimed to be easy. But it’s more than worth it.It’s the most amazing journey you’ll ever go on. And you are more than enough.
Lots of love,
Third Time Mum Me. xx
Just a random selection of images that sum up parenthood from over the years….
NB: Thanks so much to Vicks for working with me on this post. Vicks BabyRub is a new product within the Vicks range for babies aged six months and over. It is the first of its kind and is a multipurpose product providing moisturising & soothing comfort. Together with a mums loving touch, Vicks BabyRub helps to moisturise, soothe and help your baby feel relaxed. provides comforting care for delicate skin, together with mild fragrances of Rosemary, Lavender and Aloe Vera.
Vicks BabyRub is available at: Boots, Superdrug, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and all good pharmacy chains. RRP £3.99