posted on: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Have you met Caitlin? Visiting her blog is like hanging out with that mum friend you wished lived next door. Down to earth and informative, I often find myself relating to her perspective and of course she has the added glamour of being an import from the United States. (Aren't foreigners always more interesting? ;) Caitlin does it all -- blogs, studies, works out of the home and in, in Brisbane, Queensland. I asked her how her life has changed since becoming a mama. This is what she told me.
What did a normal day look like before you were pregnant?
"I feel like I lived so many lives before I became a mother! There was the life in New York City where I wore make-up and heels and click clacked along the sidewalk in a rush on my way to work.
There was the life at university in Brisbane where I had time not only to study nursing but also to meet friends for coffees between lectures and for trivia nights at the local pub.
There was the life as a theatre nurse where, if I had a difficult day I could come home, shower, talk to my husband over a glass of wine and then crawl into bed.
I think the part of those lives that I miss the most is the spontaneity and freedom. Yes, I was tied down by work and study, and at the time those commitments felt very demanding, but outside of that I didn't have much responsibility. I had the time to indulge in things I love doing; running, pilates, the occasional pedicure, and spending an afternoon on the couch watching movies and drinking mulled wine."
What does a normal day look like now?
"Busy. Thanks to my toddler's punctual body clock, I am up every day by six. I work Monday, Wednesday and Friday and on those days I am generally up even earlier so I have the family ready to go by the time I leave the house at 6:30. In the evening I pick Toddler C up from child care, he gets to watch 10 minutes of Peppa Pig before the dinner, bath and reading routine begins. Once he is tucked in and sweetly dreaming, I do a few chores and then I generally relax by getting lost in a blog or two. Tuesdays and Thursday are filled with walks to the cafe, swimming lessons, trips to the park and play dates. Toddler C still naps for two hours during the day and as soon as his eyes close, I busy myself cooking dinner, blogging and studying. Most of the household stuff like grocery shopping and cleaning is done on Saturday when Daddy R is around...we divide and conquer!"
What has surprised you most about becoming a mum?
"I am surprised by how much I enjoy it. I don't mean that to sound harsh or as if I went into motherhood expecting to loathe it, not at all. I knew that I would love being a mother but I am constantly surprised and the intensity of my feelings. I would say at least once a day my breath catches in the back of my throat and tears spring to my eyes as I am hit with the realisation of how much I enjoy spending time with my little guy and how much I love him."
Is being a mum easier/harder/very different than what you thought it would be?
"It is faster than I thought it would be. I thought babies were babies for a long time...turns out before you know it, those babies and walking and talking and full of personality. And sometimes I find with this pace comes pressure. You strive to master something and just as you are feeling confident, your baby moves onto the next thing. At the moment I am amazed at how quickly Toddler C is learning...at the ripe old age of almost two he knows his alphabet, his numbers and he is starting to 'read' to me! What comes next? Algebra?"
What do you wish you’d known before you were pregnant?
"I wish I had known that all the baby books in the world wouldn't help me raise my baby.Yes, it is nice to know what is happening during your pregnancy and it is helpful to have some idea of what a generic baby is like over the course of that first year. But none of those books were written about MY baby. I wish I had had more confidence to put the books down and to trust my own instincts."
What is the hardest part of being a new mum?
"I honestly thought the entire first year was extraordinarily challenging. It was a huge awakening.
Everything that I knew about my life and about myself changed. Some people seem to adjust to motherhood easily but I think it took me a full year to come to terms with my new world. Being completely and utterly sleep deprived probably didn't help to make this transition any easier!"
What do you love best about being a mum?
"There are bad days and there are good days and then there are those moments where you think, this is what it is all about! I have always loved reading to Toddler C, I love the cadence of children's book, I love the illustrations and most of all I love any excuse to cuddle him close. Until recently it was always me reading, Toddler C sitting on my lap, holding his Puppy Bunny and sucking his thumb. Now he has started 'reading' to me, his sweet voice repeating the words that I have read night after night after night. I love those moments where my actual life is exactly how I imagined motherhood would be."
What helps you parent well?
"Being organised! I feel that by staying on top of all the little things, I have more time to slow down and enjoy the big things -- being with Daddy R and Toddler C.
I also think that when I look after myself I am a better mother. It is very easy to put all of your energy into caring for your little one, but it is so important to looking after your own wellbeing. For me, eating nourishing foods helps my energy levels stay on par with those of my toddler and taking some time entirely for myself always leaves me feeling refreshed.
And I have to give credit where credit is due, having a supportive and hands on partner helps enormously.
What is the best parenting advice you've been given?
"Whatever works. There is really no right way to bring up children. I believe that as long as your children know that they are absolutely and unconditionally loved, then all of those aspects of parenting that you can't help but agonise over are really irrelevant."
Is there any advice you’d like to give new mums?
"Surround yourself with support, whether your own parents, siblings, mommy friends, blogs -- being a mother is a joyful experience but it is also hard work. Being able to celebrate those highs, to get help through the low periods and to share stories and advice with people you love and trust makes motherhood so much easier and so much more enjoyable.
I also think that being a part of sisterhood of mothers who together have seen it all and done it all and have lived to tell about it, is amazing and humbling."
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Caitlin! Caitlin blogs at Mother Down Under and her business, HypnoBirthing Brisbane, is set to launch in July. If you're keen to know more about HypnoBirthing, feel free to contact Caitlin for more info.