Your 12-step guide to motherhood

Welcome to new motherhood. You’ve got a newborn baby who – if you’re lucky – is giving you about as much interaction as you’d get from a cute potato. You’ve got twinges in parts of your body you never knew existed and parts you thought were pretty reliable (pelvic floor?) seem to have headed off on holiday.

Wondering what to do next? Don’t worry, you won’t be short of people to fill you in.

1) Don’t breastfeed excessively.

You’ve had it drummed into you that breastfeeding rates drop away dramatically once babies hit a few months old, so get out your weird clippy bras and your unflattering zip tops and get ready to fire those good nutrients into your child.

But don’t be selfish about it. Dads these days like to bond and how will they do that if you’re selfishly getting up every 90 minutes, to get those antibodies from your sensitive, delicate nipples into the baby you maybe should have called Dyson?

And definitely don’t talk about it working out (if it does) because then you’re basically invading Poland with your lumpy, probably lopsided, breasts.

2) But don’t bottle-feed either.

Won’t someone think of the gut flora?

3) Don’t helicopter.

Mothers these days. Honestly. They just seem to spend all their time wanting to ensure their children aren’t putting themselves into mortal danger.

I remember the time when mothers would let their children play hopscotch in the middle of the motorway as a sort of Darwinist selection (I don’t, but you know what I mean.) Now they don’t even get to throw themselves from the top of one of those big rope climbers in the playground without someone telling them to climb down carefully.

4) But don’t take your eyes off them.

Have you been to the park lately? All those mothers checking their phones from time to time. It’s almost as if they might have something else to think about other than the 53rd “dinosaur fossil” their child has dug up in the bark beneath the swings.

5) Kidproof your home.

If your child hurts themselves at home, you have only yourself to blame. Have you not seen the shelves at Bunnings with the things you stick in a power point and can never get out again? Or the gate that you put over the kitchen doorway so that you have something to hurdle when you need to run to a crying baby half-way through cooking dinner? It’s important to keep your fitness up, remember.

6) But let them understand risk.

How will kids ever learn that fire is hot, knives are sharp, or that it hurts to fall a great distance on to a hard surface, unless we let them experience it first-hand for themselves? They’ll only do it once. Probably.

7) Don’t ever let them eat anything big enough to choke on.

Do a half-day first aid course while you’re pregnant that will terrify you into believe that the only thing that stands between your child and impending doom is these few hours with St John. Chop every piece of food into a 0.5cm by 0.5cm square.

8) But let her lead the way with food.

Teach her healthy eating habits by encouraging baby-led weaning. Does she want to gnaw on a chicken drumstick? Wonderful! Does she want to stick chunks of your dinner in her hair, nose and eyes while you’re trying to find three minutes to cram your own food into your mouth? Fantastic!

9) Encourage every learning opportunity.

Those little brains are a sponge for new information. Get out your pipe cleaners while they’re napping and set up a sensory experience to encourage them to explore new textures. When that’s over, what about some paint colouring swirling around in a tub of milk? Making 32 litres of jelly to add to a paddling pool?

10) But let them be bored.

Kids these days… no ability to just make their own fun. They expect us to do it for them and it’s all the mothers’ fault. Leave your baby alone with a ruler and a piece of paper for an-hour-and-a-half and just watch the creative magic unfold.

11) Make time for yourself.

How do you ever expect to give anything to your baby if you don’t make time for yourself? You’ve got that cup to fill, remember.

12) But not like that.

Do you not miss your child when you take time away from them? I bet you can’t relax wondering whether he’s screaming for you the whole time you’re indulging in that luxury of having the hair from your bikini line pulled out at the roots. And what about your husband? Bet he’s feeling neglected.

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