Kids are sponges! Vibes, germs, swear words… if you’re giving them out they’ll absorb them and use it against you.
A friend recently started a new job; Very exciting for mama but a bit daunting.. you know, normal first day jitters, and of course her kiddos played up at daycare drop off.
She messaged our group saying “ugh how do they know!?” and I was like: babe, I don’t know how they know BUT THEY KNOW.
It’s true: you can get up each day, put your big girl undies on and use your mum voice all you like, but if you have one ounce of self doubt? Your kids will exploit you for that like you’ve just shoplifted a lip gloss and you don’t want the ‘rents to find out.
So how do you get confidence as a Mum? Well that’s a hard one… but here are a few things that helped me in the end.
Find the new YOU
I spent a lot of time mourning my old self, career and relationships that I couldn’t see what I’d gained. I mean yeah it sucked to leave my awesome job, give up flat whites, free time and a full night’s sleep. And sure I wasn’t at Friday drinks with work buddies or out at dinner before hitting cocktail bars on Saturday nights with the girls… instead what I was doing was giving all of myself to nurturing my baby, teaching her what love means, and learning how to be a parent with my husband and all of that stuff ended up being way more life affirming than what I’d given up. Once I let go of all the things I thought defined me as a person, and that I didn’t really miss after all, I was able to embrace the new me. The better me.
Give nothing to self doubt
Self doubt was a big block for me and it meant I was inconsistent in my parenting. This, of course, never worked out but it all changed when someone told me that babies thrive on consistency and a predictable series of events to understand the world. It kind of makes sense right? My poor kiddo didn’t know what was coming at her each day of the week because I chopped and changed my approach so much that it was counterproductive. I realise now that it was mostly due to my suppressed instincts that I kept trying all the things on the internet and in parenting books, and all of that doubting myself was crushing my confidence badly. Once I realised that a little consistency was something that my baby and I thrived on, I started to go with my gut and things started to click into place.
Listen to the voices inside your head
One day, while trawling the internet with searches like “how do I get my baby to sleep?” and “why does it hurt in my chest when my baby cries?” and “why do I suck at being a mum?” (kidding!) I gave up. Look, it can be helpful sometimes but I think in general just stop trying to find the answer on the internet. Not a whole lot of good can come from that. It’s much easier to tap into you intuition when you’re just reacting to what’s in front of you.
so if you can, relax and give in to your new role. Observe and react. Listen to your instincts, mama’s! You’ll learn very quickly if your baby is hungry or tired or in pain. You’ll see it on their face and hear it in their cry. You’ll see them yawning, rubbing their eyes, or scrunching up their knees. You’ll hear that little voice in your head that says “oh.. The last time you fussed like that during a feed you did a massive burp not long after… maybe you need to be burped?”.
And when it all turns to shit, you’ll hear that same little voice saying “It’s ok mama. Take a breath. Go through the list, is baby: Fed? Burped? Dirty? Hot? Cold? Tired? Eliminate the options.. Work the problem and the solution will come. You’ve got this”
Find your vibe, ignore the rest
When I was reading all the things and talking to everyone I could about their opinions on feeding/sleeping/routines, and going to Plunket, Tamariki Ora, various Family Centres, talking with baby sleep consultants, and fellow mothers (new and old) I was met with just too, too much advice. Once I started to be consistent and decided what parenting vibe felt right to me I started to do better. Not just in the things I was struggling with like managing the reflux, wind and sleep. It was more than that. I’d come out of the tough zone and tapping into my parenting vibe again and again meant I started to really thrive as a mum.
Look mama’s, everyone has advice and opinions. Everyone. And most of the time, it’s well meaning. And you could get behind any of that advice and run with it. I think it’s probably not the technique, it’s the consistency that makes it impactful. The trick is to find what works for you. What feels right. What you’ll be able to get behind and be consistent with day, and night. Eventually your parenting vibe becomes such a part of you that it ends up being a big part of your identity. So whether you decide to feed on demand or by a schedule; cosleep, bed share or sleep baby in their own cot; cuddle to sleep, feed to sleep, pat to sleep, or do some controlled crying; breastfeed, bottle feed or mix feed; use a dummy or not; cloth nappy or not; zero screen time until the age or 5 or not; homemade puree, store bought puree or baby led weaning…. Really IT DOESN’T MATTER. You do you, boo. As long as it’s your decision, get behind it 100%.
Don’t look over the fence
Do not. I repeat, do not compare your baby to any other baby. The truth is that there will always be another baby/mum that will make you jealous with rage and you will also, at some point, be that mum for someone else. For me, it was all the damn babies that slept through the night from like, 30 seconds old that did my head in. Plus all the mums who said dorky things like “oh I just miss my baby when she sleeps 300 hours a day” which made my eyes roll back so hard in my head I almost went blind. On the other hand, I had zero issues with breastfeeding and there were a few fellow mums who reminded me that, unlike them, I was very lucky to have had such a great experience.
Ditch the 80/20 rule
Go with the 50/50 rule, or just tell yourself that at least you can start over tomorrow. It can be easy to focus on the bad days and not remember the good days. To me, if I have 3 good days out of every 7, that’s fine by me. It took time but I ended up realising that every day, and every week is different. Babies change so much! And no two days are the same. You could look at that in a negative way, or you could look at that and think… If every day is different, and today was shitthouse, then at least there’s a good chance that tomorrow will be awesome?
What things help/helped you gain your mama confidence?