What was this year like for you as a first time mum?
Surprising– Whatever you think it’s going to be like it’s completely different in so many ways.
The first year is like a rollercoaster so many highs but also incredibly low lows. I think it is really important to share this side of parenting. Of Course we all know the highs– We see them all over Instagram– Those early morning cuddles, first crawls, first smiles, laughter and the purest form of innocence and wonder.
But there are lows– They are certainly different for everyone and I didn’t feel equipped to know it’s completely normal to go through them. It felt like there were two spectrums– Postpartum depression and loving every second of this! I was somewhere in between... Was that normal? Was it ok to sometimes want back a life without so much obligation and so little sleep and uncertainty? Turns out it was– But I didn’t know it at the time!
Looking back there were really hard days but that made the good moments even sweeter. For me, it was a gradual learning of each other, day by day that grew into the bond we have today.
A lot of the work and continued learning I do I always think “I wish I had these tools when I was growing up.” So I’m excited to share this as Benji grows. Of Course what Benji eats is hugely important for me– And it fills me with a lot of happiness when I see him munching on some interesting choices for a baby. He gobbles up vegetables, sardines,grass fed beef, ghee, liver, chia seed puddings, oats cooked in broth, zucchini pasta… I’ve yet to find something he won’t eat… Yet!
What is your philosophy around nutrition and wellness for
I try to keep a balanced outlook- whilst he’s in this glorious stage of gobbling up everything– I know this may pass and we might end up with a fussy baby. While the going is good, I'm loading him up with good choices! It is, of course, easy with a baby who eats easily– I’m grateful for that after a very tough breastfeeding journey- it felt like an overdue win!
What are your non-negotiables, what do you let go?
For me as a mum an evening walk, dinner together and bath/ sleep routine every night has been something I commit to– I love the un-winding and quiet time free from distraction.
Letting go...In the beginning I found myself chasing milestones– I’ve learnt to chill out and let things be. Part of this is trusting my intuition and part of this is trusting Benji– We have both got this in our own way– Reading a book, or following wonder weeks did not align with my personality. Chilling out and watching Benji get there in his own time has really shifted how I parent and made me look at each moment with wonder and awe opposed to “what's next”
Developmentally they need to keep moving forward, advancing in their own way- doctors will pick up any issues at their check ups- try not to focus on “some babies do x by x” in-between that!
How do you balance work and home time?
It is not easy, it takes patience, presence and really good noise cancelling headphones.
It is a myth to believe you can have everything– Just as being a full time mum comes with sacrifices so does working and being a mom. I have learnt to really dive in and focus when i'm in a work block or a Benji block.
I also work a bit each evening when Benji is asleep– I suppose that’s the benefit of having a job that doesn't feel like work, it’s easy to pick up pieces in the night or over weekends.
How has that changed with working from home?
It’s not too far from what I was doing before as I worked a lot from home anyway. I would say the biggest shift is now having a pre-toddler at home who vies for attention a lot more than a baby who would sleep in his sling while I worked away.
This biggest shift for me is incorporating a lot more movement in my day– Which has been great! Instead of a personal trainer twice a week, I now fit in short sequences, between client calls, on my morning walk, between blocks of work. It’s amazing to see these 2 to 3 minutes burst throughout the day really add up. This is why I’m really excited about becoming accredited under Behaviour expert, B.J Fogg for his Tiny Habits Method. We often feel we need an hour– Which as a working mum can be tough to find… these few minutes a day have meant I can do a proper push up– Which I have NEVER been able to do! It feels wonderful to be able to share how to build habits with my clients in a way that is sustainable and makes them feel good with literally 2 minutes of commitment a day!
What advice do you wish to share with other mums?
I certainly don’t have all the answers but I do know there is a lot of pressure on moms to be perfect. Sometimes something has to give and I constantly have to remind myself of this. I have personally found a lot of literature, particularly in the functional medicine & nutrition, alternate healing space to be overwhelming and very much aligned with fear. It can really lead you down a rabbit hole, worrying about plastics, mattresses, playmats… the list goes on.
I had to personally decide where I want to align my focus, where is it easy for me to make better choices and what can I let go off- this comes after spending about a month obsessing over a toxin free playmat– I realised it’s not sustainable to look at basic choices with such a microscopic lens of fear.
New mums seem to forget about their own health and everything shifts to the baby- hormonally there are huge changes, sleep deprivation, stress. Postpartum care is so often overlooked- the focus is on baby, followed closely by when and how do I lose the baby weight… It’s a good idea to get tested for nutrient deficiencies and follow a food and movement plan that works well for your ‘new normal’. Weight-loss comes naturally when you protect your stress hormones and top up the correct nutrients. It took me a year to shift the weight I had gained, slowly, safely and with the focus on building my body up piece by piece. I now feel stronger than ever.
I wish there was a greater focus on mums health after birth and a more balanced, gentle approach to parenting- the few books I skimmed through made me feel like If you get this wrong… “Not enough skin time, breastfeeding is the answer to everything” and that’s just for the first hour... As a new mum all we are hearing is “well if i don’t/can’t breastfeed, will my child have the worst immunity?” or “I had a C-section and couldn’t have immediate skin on skin time, we won’t bond”. We read through the lines– We question ourselves, we stay up late wondering how we can be better, do more...when all we really need to do is be there with an open heart. Just as we love our babies for their glitches that make them, them, they love us for the parts that make us real too! I’d love to see something gentle, open and honest that addresses these issues more and really keeps the fragile state of a first time mum at the core. Maybe one day… Watch this space.