What I’m going to do differently as a third time mum
As I write this, I’m a few short weeks away from giving birth to my third child. Already, it feels quite different to previous pregnancies.
When I was pregnant with my first, I spent hours sitting in my brand-new feeding chair, imagining what it was going to be like to hold a newborn.
When I was pregnant with my second, I thought more about how my first child was going to adjust. I took her on outings, gave her lots of one-on-one time and read her countless books about the merits of being a big sister.
Now that I’m pregnant with my third, it’s a whole different ball game. There’s no time for sitting in the feeding chair and outings with my children consist of walking to and from school, trips to the supermarket and getting the flu shot.
Wondering about how life will change with a third child is more about panicking about how I’m going to cope. I mean, how do you comfort three crying children at once when you only have two arms?
That’s why things are going to be different this time around. I’m giving myself rules to live by and they’re going to stick for as long as I need them to.
I’m saying no to guilt
We all feel guilty at times, it’s a natural part of being a parent, but this time I'm going to try to reduce it. I’m not going to feel guilty if I need to feed my child formula, or a bottle, or give them a dummy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done all these things, but I’ve felt guilty about it. Not this time though.
I’m also not going to feel guilty if I need to put my older kids in front of the TV occasionally. I know it’s not good for them, I know the screen time guidelines and I know it might lead to bad habits being formed. But if it's 5 pm, my kids are tired and I need to settle a crying baby, then a little time with our friends Ryder and the Paw Patrol pups might be my best solution.
I’m going to lower my standards
I have a vivid memory of being in active labour with my second child. I had a shower and finished packing my hospital bag while my husband put our eldest to bed. Then in between contractions, I cleaned up the dinner dishes so my parents-in-law wouldn’t have to do it when they arrived. What on earth was I thinking?!
I’m sorry parents, but there will be no clean kitchen this time around. My standards have dropped and I won’t be focusing on keeping my house tidy. When people visit, I promise to provide a beverage, clear a space on the couch for them to sit on and I may even wipe the toddler wee off the toilet seat. I’m also going to book a cleaner - even though my standards have dropped, at least the house will remain in some sort of disinfected state.
I’m going to ask for help
When my first baby was born, I had it in my head that I should be able to work out everything on my own. For some reason, I thought asking for help was a sign that I wasn’t a good mum. Boy, was I wrong. It’s so important to ask for help when you’re struggling, and I’m not going to shy away from it this time.
If things aren’t going well emotionally for me or my hubby, I know there’s the Gidget Foundation which helps with the emotional wellbeing of new mums and dads.
I’m going to do what’s right for me
So much of being a parent is doing what is right for your family. From dawn to dusk, I meet other peoples’ needs, and having a newborn isn’t going to change that. But there are a few things I’m going to do that will be all about me.
During the night feeds, I’m going to binge watch Netflix on my phone. I’m going to choose a trashy series or movie that doesn’t require much thought and I’m going to get totally into it.
On the days my older ones are in daycare and school, I’m going to make the day as much about me as I can. I’m going to lie around with the newborn for hours on end and ignore the washing in the corner. While the baby sleeps in the pram, I’m going to visit the local café and sip on a coffee while reading a magazine. I’m going to take as much ‘me-time’ as I can while this baby is young, sleepy and can’t talk back!
I’m going to enjoy it but I’m also going to be real
We have decided this is our last baby and I’m determined to take it all in. I’m going to breathe in that milky scent while she drinks her milk and holds my fingers in her little hand. I’m going to laugh at her first giggles and cheer when she takes those first steps.
But I know it’s going to be hard and I’m not going to shy away from that. If a friend asks, I’m not going to pretend. If I spent the weekend delousing my children, fed them scrambled eggs for dinner and didn’t leave the house then that’s what I’ll say.
I’m going to do my best to enjoy it and take it all in, but I’m not going to feel guilty if some days I hate being a mum. That’s just the reality of parenting.
Wish me luck!
by Caitlin Wright