In collaboration with BritMums and Vicks BabyRub
Earlier this month I found out about a project that really had me inspired. The challenge was to write a letter to your first-time parent self, offering advice, support and encouragement. It really had me inspired to put down into words those feelings that have been in my mind for a while now.
Parenting is so amazing, and it’s even more of a blessing with two children. Becoming a parent for the second time when Ottilie was born in July 2016, I felt a little stronger and more prepared. Pregnancy, birth and parenting can be unpredictable and quite a journey, but there’s just something very different about becoming a parent for the first time.
If I could go back and give my first-time parent self some encouragement, here’s the advice I’d share.
It’s an amazing journey
Parenting is beyond amazing. It’s such a gift and even with the tough times it’s something to celebrate and enjoy.
You don’t know it yet, but the journey’s full of so many moments to treasure. First words, learning to walk, tasting new foods and visiting new places. Going for walks together and teaching your little one about the great outdoors. Experiencing snow for the first time – building a snowman and throwing snowballs. And there’s so much giggling ahead.
The first few weeks seem to last forever in a newborn haze, especially with Christmas right around the corner. The first moments were of shock, worry and panic but you’ll get good news soon. There’s a lifetime of happy moments ahead. Before you know it he’ll be four years old and you’ll be on the verge of finding out which school he’ll be heading to in September.
You’ll love these moments when they happen, but the real magic is in the memories. You’ll sit on the sofa and talk about how much he smiled when you brought out that toy car garage at Christmas, or remember the sound of his voice when he gets really excited about something.
Give yourself time to figure it all out
Being a parent isn’t something that just clicks into place for everyone – especially not with the start you had. It’s that beautiful combination of being a huge responsibility and an absolute blessing, and it can seem overwhelming at first.
Everyone has advice to give you and there’s so many opinions it’s hard to find your own way. But you will. You’ll come to find your own approach to parenting and making decisions. It’s up to you how you raise your children and that’s so empowering. You have the ability to decide whether you’ll try baby-led weaning or purees, how you’ll travel around, how you’ll decorate the nursery. Even the big decisions like childcare, schooling and beyond are yours to make an informed choice with. It might seem scary but trust me, you know your own mind and you’ll do a wonderful job at it.
Allow yourself the time to nurture and grow as a parent. Figure out who you are, how you want to be as a family and don’t feel pressured by anyone.
Indulge in those slow, happy moments
You’ll soon discover that although the years are long they’re made up of tiny, wonderful little moments. They can come out of nowhere and surprise you.
Try and let the small things go. The washing up can wait, putting clothes away can wait. Enjoy that bedtime routine. The long soak in the bath and the little giggles he makes as he splashes. Trying to carry him through to the bedroom without soaking the whole floor. A calming, relaxing massage with a moisturiser (like Vicks BabyRub) before getting dressed in a onesie ready for sleep. Don’t feel rushed – little babies don’t need a strict bedtime.
Enjoy those glances a bit longer. Hold his gaze and watch his eyes as they study your face. Marvel at the way he explores the world around him, even though he can only just manage a crawl. Watch him dance. Just enjoy it all.
Document as you go
Our memories are amazing but we can’t possibly keep every tiny moment stored within easy reach in our minds. Keep hold of all the moments by documenting them – you won’t regret it.
Take photos of your days out, the faces he makes and snap photos of you all together too. A family photo is rare these days! Record the way he walks and those little noises he makes so you can send them to friends and family. Hit record and capture him smiling, crawling, trying a new food and those first steps. Get into the habit of taking photos and video every week. There’s always something new to smile at.
Try and look back at these photos and videos all the time. Scroll back through and remind yourself of the first few days, the milestones and how adorable he looked in that outfit. It’s never too late to print out photos and create a memory book, or put together some of your clips into a mini film.
Parenting is a wild, amazing rollercoaster of a journey. You’re at the very start. Enjoy those moments, even the bad ones, because they’re the start of something beautiful. And before long you’ll get to experience the joys of parenting two of them too.
This post is an entry for BritMums #VicksBabyRub Challenge, sponsored by Vicks BabyRub. Specially designed for babies aged 6 months and over, Vicks BabyRub is available at Boots, Superdrug, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and all good pharmacies. RRP £3.99