the ‘perfect’ mum? parenting 101

“Today we spent 45 minutes trying to sit up. 5 of those minutes went into actually attempting to sit up, 15 minutes was moaning and frustration and another 25 trying to take this picture. In the end, we gave up and put on some Baby Tv”

Every new mum has been there. “I’m going to be the perfect mum”. No chocolates, no sweets, homemade food only and definitely NO TV!

Throughout my pregnancy I read, studied and read some more. I bought books on exclusive pumping, read articles about the effects of flashing lights and plastic on infants, found recipes for weaning and read reviews upon reviews trying to find the best breast pump.

I had to work so hard for these beings, and for that reason, I was going to be perfect. I was going to do everything right and make them the best, healthiest, and happiest babies around.

Just 45 minutes after my C-Section, I was given two tiny bottles with an ounce of what looked like milk. I was told to give the twins formula to top them up. I was confused and bewildered. What? I was reassured it was only a supplement as their blood sugar was low.

When I got to my mums, I instructed no rocking or holding too much. Told my family I wanted wooden toys only and was adamant they weren’t going to be watching baby tv.

I spent the first 3 months tirelessly trying to increase my supply, so much that I hardly held my girls. I felt so disconnected from the world around me, so isolated and most definitely so alone. I wouldn’t go anywhere without my manual pump and would try to pump discreetly in the front seat to make sure I didn’t waste any. The rest of my days were filled with drinking water, pumping, watching Catfish (Thank god for box sets) and juggling the combinations feeds. I was completely overwhelmed.

At 3 months I made the decision to stop pumping and give them formula exclusively. I was devastated. Not because I spent hundreds on a pump, bottles, freezer bags and vitamins. But because I wanted what was best, and that was breast milk.

To my surprise, from that moment on I felt free. Free of my pump, free of the expectations I was putting upon myself and free of pressure. I could finally spend time with the girls, get to know their little personalities and let them get to know me.

As the weeks went on, Layla started to become more and more aware of her surroundings. I realised that she was getting bored very easily and needed constant attention and entertainment. The time that she needed, just wasn’t the time that I had. I started to look for ways to keep her entertained. She hated tummy time and her beautifully crafted wooden baby gym from Etsy was doing nothing for her.

One morning in utter desperation I took my sky remote, typed in 622 and lay her there. She was in full view of the bright friendly flashing lights that was Baby TV. She was bemused and quite frankly could not believe her luck. You see from around 2 months Layla had been fixated with the TV. I spent most of my time trying to shield her from it by turning her away, turning it off or taking her into another room. She did however always manage to get a quick peek when I was binging on Catfish, but that was all she ever got. Yet here she was, lying in her adorable onesie, feet in the air, gurgling to the alphabet song.

Had all my research gone to pot?

As the weeks went on, I started to resort to Baby TV more often than I wanted. I really just couldn’t keep up. I found that 15 minutes of the girls watching TV, gave me 15 minutes to wash and sterilise the bottles, put the machine on, change the bedding, give the apartment a quick hoover and god forbid, make myself a cup of tea.

I would put them to sleep in the swing if it meant that they got the nap that they needed, rock them to bed when they woke from some wind and put on ‘Say Masha’Allah’ by Khalid Siddiq to calm them down when they needed it.

As the day came to a close and the girls were tucked up in bed, I would sit in my kitchen contemplating on all the things that I was doing wrong. I felt so guilty for exposing them to the very things that I promised that I wouldn’t. I felt so bad for contradicting my own set of rules and would start to do research to find ways to do things better.

As time went on my ‘Mum-Guilt’ started to consume me. I would spend my days in bed, and not sleep at night. Eat junk and drink tea to keep myself going and isolate myself by not telling anyone how I was feeling. I knew what I was doing wasn’t healthy and that I needed to make positive changes.

I started to make notes of everything I felt I was ‘doing wrong’. At the end of the day I would go through the notes and evaluate why I did what I did, and what if anything could I have done differently. 9/10 times I came to the conclusion, that given the circumstances, I made the right choice in that situation.

I also started to talk about how I feel to people around me. Opening up about my disappointment gave others the opportunity to explain that it was normal to feel this way and to reassure me that I was parenting the best way I know how.

The most important factor in working on my ‘Mum-Guilt’ was to stop comparing myself to other mums. I was never going to be the ‘perfect mum’ and accepting that sooner rather than later really helped.

It’s important to remember that some days it’s okay to be happy with simply ‘keeping them alive’, and that every accomplishment, no matter how small is something to be proud of. Celebrating small wins like sitting them up for 15 minutes and rewarding yourself of 15 minutes to yourself for a cup of tea is definitely okay.

Finally, It’s definitely worth noting that you are still a person, and putting yourself first for once isn’t the end of the world.

Love to you all

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