What does a normal day look like now?
"Always waking up thinking, 'Really, do I have to get up already?' My alarm clock is Arlo, always before 7am. After brekkie, changing nappies and watching him throw toys across the room, we venture to our local and magnificent park where we coo at the swans, dogs and bats, touch trees and smell flowers. During Arlo’s nap, I often try and fit in a bit of work – either for my blog, The Nature Strip, or for a children’s cancer charity that I work for. Then it’s food shopping/ preparing, tidying up, playing, settling for bed and watching some Mad Men."
"The incredible and overwhelming love I have for this small boy who is so bewildered by this world and its simple pleasures -- along with intense fear and anxiety to protect him."
Is being a mum easier/harder/very different than what you thought it would be?
"Being a mum is all of the above -- it can be easy, it can be hard, it can be different, it can be blissful, it can be challenging, it can be exhausting, it can be exhilarating. What I didn't realise is that I would have so many conversations with other mums about baby poo and its importance -- how many a day, does it look normal, have I remembered the nappies? I also didn't realise that my emotional responses would amplify – more things make me cry these days, both with sadness as well as pure joy."
"I underestimated the pure amazement of the pregnancy journey, from seeing my baby’s limbs pushing in to my skin to my maternal instinct of rubbing my belly protectively. It was also an incredible bonding experience with my partner, the doting dad! I also didn't realise that I would eat so many mangos whilst pregnant -- it became an expensive habit/craving."
"That I will never know sleep as I knew it before having a child. Everyone always talked about the sleep deprivation but nothing can prepare you for it. Also the balance between dedicating yourself to being a mother and working to pay the bills. Another adjustment is realising that I am no longer me, I don’t have the freedom to just be. Being a mother is a relentless giving, spurred on by unconditional love. And I am okay with that – most of the time."
What do you love best about being a mum?
"Watching my son slowly develop from a fragile and precious newborn to a bustling, charismatic toddler. The way my son giggles is infectious and beautiful, and his cuddles are deliciously warm and comforting."
What helps you parent well?
"I don’t know that I am parenting well, I just try my best each day to meet my son’s needs – both emotional and physical. I aim to help him learn and play, nourish him with healthy and nutritious food, show him the world around him and how to appreciate it, and shower him with lots of love and affection.
Support from friends and family is vital too – for his development and mine."
What is the best parenting advice you've been given?
"To trust your instinct in the midst of ‘experts’ and that amongst all the challenges, appreciate how funny children can be. My son makes me laugh every day."
Is there any advice you’d like to give new mums?
"That any of your anxieties and fears and feelings of being overwhelmed are completely natural. And not to listen to too much advice as babies, like adults, are individuals. And that it does get easier!"
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Nat! You can find Natalie blogging about sustainable ideas on parenting, healthy eating, and fashion at The Nature Strip.