Bringing up Leo; One Year On

Important pointers from a first-time mommy’s one-year learning!

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One year isn’t that long, after all. (Photo: Simrat Ghuman)

Last weekend was my little cub’s first birthday. And a year since I became a mother (obvs!). The journey’s been a pain and pleasure, but I’m happy to report that not only did we both survive the first year with flying colours, but that he is now infinitely more of a pleasure than a pain. It’s as if he expunged all his crankiness in the first three hellish, colicky months and it’s been a great upward spiral since. Well, mostly. And whatever frustrations I have had, have automatically directed themselves towards my long suffering Darling Husband rather than the boy. Although you’ll get endless advice, I realised there’s some stuff no one bothers telling you because it’s either blindingly obvious to some or just not talked about enough. So, in no particular order, here’s the gyan:

1. No matter how old your child is, for their birthday, get a chocolate cake dammit and be done with it.

The kids will like it, their parents will like it and no one will look at your sophisticated pistachio, white chocolate and cardamom cake that you stayed up half the night baking and icing with disappointment in their eyes.

2. Children are hard on a marriage/partnership, call it what you will. Parenthood comes very naturally to few.

For most, it’s a steep learning curve on which you’re not allowed to sleep. Needless to say, tensions run high and tempers fray. Cultivate patience and forgiveness and come what may, don’t kill each other because – Your child needs both of you and it gets easier after a year or so.

3. Breastfeeding, again, comes naturally to few. The first month, it looked like I’d had breast augmentation surgery

3. Breastfeeding, again, comes naturally to few. The first month, it looked like I’d had breast augmentation surgery. These extremely sensitive, pneumatic, gravity-defying things that suddenly appeared overnight on my body, leaking everywhere at the merest whimper from my precious first born, who then proceeded to chomp down hard. Oh, and you’ll be producing milk by the gallon regardless of the fact that your baby only needs a squirt at that stage. It takes about 6-8 weeks to establish the supply-demand balance. If you’re like me, you’ll hate pumping with a vengeance. I hated it more than I hate grating, ironing and overzealous advice-mongers.

4. It’s much easier looking after your child in company of other people, be it friends, family or other parents at a playgroup.

Seek out company like your sanity depends on it, because it really does. Invite people over, go visit people, go to playgroups, baby music classes, swimming whatever – do one activity a day.

5. The tiny tyrant takes precedence over every. single. decision. you will make.

From when to wake up, what to wear, what to eat, where to go, how to go there, how long to stay etc, it all depends on the little one. Your life as you know it is over, but the new life is just as wonderful, as long as you blithely throw out all routines, plans, promises at a moment’s notice.

6. Whether you push to get the baby out or go in for “slice and dice” as a friend’s husband called a c-section recently, neither is an easy option.

Both hurt like hell. And while you’re recovering, get all the help you can from family or whatever you can afford.

7. Your good friends will neatly divide into two groups.

The ones who embrace the child in your life and ones who treat the child as incidental, if not inconvenient addition to your friendship (they’ll still love you, but just don’t send them as many videos or photos)

8. When you travel with your child, packing is actually easy.

You pack everything. Simple. We once decided to travel light, thinking we’d buy extra nappies or medicines if we needed them. And when you aren’t carrying that stuff, be assured you will need it. When your child is projectile vomiting and doing watery poos, you want everything at hand, and not have to go hunting for a shop that sells it.

9. I’m not saying don’t give them toys, but don’t stress about the lack of age-appropriate toys or suchlike.

Children are happy with kitchen utensils, torches, alarm clocks, radios and measuring tapes. Just keep an eye out so nothing ends up in their mouth.

10. Finally, if you want to bring up your child without exposure to the TV, or screen time, it’s very much possible.

Get rid of your TV and refuse to share the phone. I did, and I’m still sane and surviving!

(The author is a former TV journo and currently the Head of Communications and Marketing at Anthemis Group in London. She became Mama to baby Leo in April 2015. She started this blog as an outlet for the intense, roller-coaster experience that pregnancy and motherhood entail. And for recording the journey with as much humour – black mostly – as she can cram in. Oh and dispensing free gyan as she ticks the been there, done that milestones.)

Follow the series:
Being Here, Doing This: Bringing Up Leo
Hello Stranger, Here’s Leo, My Baby
Mommy Worries: I Swear, Therefore I Am
Drama-preet Singh vs Super-Mama?
Caring for Leo: The Home Stretch
Holiday? Holy-Sh**-Day, More Like
The Nursery Times, With Leo, My Son

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