posted on: Friday, June 7, 2013
The Little Wolff blog first drew me in with its clean, funky design and easy navigation, but it was finding out how much Little Wolff blogger Lila, and I have in common that got me hooked.
We both have three kiddos ranging from toddlers to teens, we've both dived into parenting and studying, and last but definitely not least, we both became first-time mums when most girls our age were still out partying.
After saying all that I may look a bit (ahem) biased, but one of the things I really appreciate about Little Wolff is the way Lila often tackles relevant social topics with informed and thoughtful commentary.
I asked Lila how she's thrice navigated early mamahood with her babes who are now 17 years, 14 years and 23 months. This is what she told me.
What did a normal day look like before you were pregnant with your eldest child?
Staying up and out all night and sleeping for a few hours before going to work as an apprentice hairdresser. I was only 16 when I fell pregnant with my first child and had just moved to Canberra with my then boyfriend.
What does a normal day look like now?
Still staying up all night, Miss Eve is a terrible sleeper! In the morning we get up and take Tyler to work come home have breakfast and play and try to find Eve something to do so I can get some study done. After lunch I try to coax Eve into having a nap so that I can squeeze some more study in. She usually gets up when the older two arrive home from school and wants to play with them until Daddy gets home. Then if we’re organised it’s out for a run, dinner together, bath and trying to get Eve to sleep so that we can have some alone time as parents. We’re not particularly exciting people I’m afraid.
What has surprised you most about becoming a mum?
Honestly, how much other people think it’s their business. From the well-meaning but slightly nosy people to those that are quite abrupt about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. The nappies, late nights and exhaustion were never a shock but the judgment was and still is.
Is being a mum easier/harder/ very different than what you thought it would be?
I probably didn’t give it much thought the first time around. I was only 17 when I had my first so I didn’t have very set ideas about parenting. That being said having a baby after such a large gap between my second and third was a shock to the system. I don’t have anywhere near as much energy as I had with the older two and her personality is vastly different so things that worked first time around just don’t fit for her. Still I am much more confident this time so there are benefits to being older too.
Did you have friends that were young mums too? Did you ever join a young mums group?
No, there was no offer of young mums groups here when I had my eldest. And although a lot popped up in the years after, I doubt I would have joined. None of my friends had kids so early and the friends that I had pretty much disappeared so it was very isolating and I was very much on my own. I didn't have anyone to sound things off to, which I believe was a big part of why breastfeeding failed so miserably. At the time I just pushed through and got on with things, which is very much my way in general but looking back on it makes me quite sad for younger me. Not in the feeling sorry for myself kind of way, just that it's a shame.
Even the way I was treated when Paige was born; I was pushed in to a c-section because she was breech (no offer of trying to turn her) I was knocked out for the c-section and they wouldn't bring her to me for hours after the birth and let all of my family see her before I did. It makes me think of how horrendously young mums were treated just 15-20 years earlier where their babies were forcibly whisked away.
I hate to sound dramatic but I think that panic and stress of begging them to bring her to me for hours gave me a taste of what those poor women before me went through, and I think it really screwed with the bonding process. I love Paige to bits but we definitely have to work harder at our connection than I do with my later two and I firmly believe those early hours of her life have a ton to do with it.
What do you wish you’d known before you were pregnant?
That I had so much more to do with my life first and that I was good enough to do those things. I don’t regret having my oldest at all but it would have been a lot easier to finish my education and explore the world before children.
What is the hardest part of being a new mum?
The lack of sleep, it really messes with your mind I’m someone who really needs sleep. I’m sure that all the other indignities of parenting like always leaving the house with bits of food attached to my clothes or hair would be a lot easy to cope with!
What do you love best about being a mum?
The love. When those smiles and sparkling eyes beam at you all the tiredness and hard parts just fade away.
What helps you parent well?
Making sure that I take care of myself, it’s dangerous but so easy to put yourself last. It’s just so, so important to make sure that you are fulfilled as a person as well as a parent.
If you don’t give yourself space and time for you as a person you’ll end up burnt out and sad and possibly worse, you’ll set the example for your children to undervalue their own needs when they grow up. If you devote some time to yourself you can recharge which makes it easier to parent.
What is the best parenting advice you’ve been given?
That they’re all different, not because they are a boy or a girl, or because of birth position, and to parent your children you need to adapt that parenting style to work with each of their special budding personalities.
Is there any advice you’d like to give new mums?
Be gentle with yourself. It’s like a mantra for me now; we wouldn’t be as harsh on others as we are ourselves it’s really important to care for yourself physically and emotionally.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us Lila! I am especially grateful to hear about your young mama days. You can read more Lila at Little Wolff, and if you'd like to see Lila and her gorgeous family at home you might like to take a peek at their adorable almost a photo-a-day.