Mums of IMAGE: 4 nuggets of wisdom for navigating motherhood
17th May 2022
We ask mums of IMAGE to share their top advice, from how to find your parenting tribe to shattering the 'perfect mum' stereotype.
Becoming a parent is a funny thing — it is simultaneously one of the scariest things we will ever face, and yet one of the most rewarding. It can all easily become overwhelming. One day we are living in blissful ignorance, soaking up the silence of an empty home, and the next, we are suddenly thrown into the thralls of exhaustion, feeding schedules, mountains of nappies, exhaustion, chafing, spit-up covered clothes — did I mention exhaustion?
And on top of all of this, we must steer through the waves of judgement that come our way, whether it’s pressures from family, friends or strangers on social media, usually on the timeless debates that, for some reason, stir up so many into a frenzy, from breastfeeding vs bottle feeding to tablets vs no tablets for kids. The list really is endless.
But the truth is that there is no ‘right way’ to raise a child, no perfect formula that will result in the world recognizing you as a perfect mum. And it can be so tiring to chase after this unachievable stereotype. It’s this insight that’s laid the foundation for Maltesers Biscuits latest campaign, and why we’ve teamed up with them to help mums thrive.
Here, mums of IMAGE from various stages of parenting, from newborns to teenagers, share some of the best advice they’ve received over the years as well as invaluable insights they’ve gained from their own experience.
1. Go easy on yourself – nobody’s perfect.
“Now that my children are aged 15, 13 and ten, I suppose I might ask my veteran mum self what advice I would give my new mum self? I think it would simply be just to go easy on yourself.
“Sometimes, it can feel hard to avoid the competitive parenting bluster and feel guilty for not baking an array of home-made (sugar-free) lunchbox treats every morning or spending rainy days fashioning exotic sculptures out of old shoeboxes; the ‘not good enough’ guilt can be savage.
“I remember so clearly beating myself up that my son was still drinking out of a bottle (hot chocolate before bed no less) at the age of three and a half. Until my mother-in-law so pragmatically pulled me aside and reminded me that it was unlikely he’d still be drinking out of a bottle going to college so really did it matter so much? And, yes, lo and behold, six months later he dropped the habit with no great fuss.
“I suppose the old cliché comes into its own here: ‘pick your battles’. You’re not a perfect parent. None of us are. But don’t beat yourself up about it. Just enjoy the good days, muddle through the exhausting ones and know that just being there for them is enough. (And, as for parenting the neurotic cockapoo, well that is a different story altogether!)” – Lizzie, mum of three and a stroppy cockapoo
2. When things seem overwhelming, try to take a step back and view things from a new perspective.
“Years ago, as a mum to be, I met up with a friend who had toddlers at that stage. I asked her when she felt her baby’s first kick, a point of worry for me at that point. She couldn’t remember, and I was shocked that she didn’t have such a momentous milestone engraved in her memory.
“Now, as a mother of teenagers, I have learned that every one of those major worries/milestones/events that seemed so big at the time are just another teeny tiny problem, and in a few days, weeks, or months they would all be forgotten.
“Being a mother, the worry will never stop, and with two teenagers there is plenty to worry about. But, I am hopeful that my current worries, once again, will turn out to be just another glitch and that my kids will turn out just fine.” – Marlene, mum of two teenagers
3. Form friendships with people you can be real and vulnerable with.
“Friendships come in all shapes and sizes, but mum friends are particularly special. They’re the ones you lean on when you’ve been up all night with a newborn and have no idea how you’ll get through the day. Then later, they’re who you call when you’re fighting yet another bedtime battle with your “threenager”! In short, in my life, they’re priceless.
“Motherhood is like this exclusive club that women are desperate to join, but sometimes once you’re in it, it can actually be quite lonely. Finding friends that provide support, and not judge or shame, is important to a mum’s mental health and the overall health of her family.
“These friends are real and they’ve experienced or are experiencing what you’re going through. There are no filters applied or comparison, which we all know is the thief of joy. You are completely raw and uncensored with them, and they are the scaffolding you need at a potentially very vulnerable time in your life.” – Ciara, mum of two little ones
4. Once you find your mum tribe, don’t be afraid to lean on them for small things, big things and everything in between.
“I couldn’t survive the rollercoaster that is parenting toddler twins and navigating pregnancy without my fellow mums’ Whatsapp group. This amazing group of women is made up of a collection of my school friends who have had babies and who now live across the globe.
“No matter the time of day or night, there is always someone around who will jump in to offer their much-needed advice for something that has been worrying you, to make you laugh with a too apt parenting home video or just to sympathise when you need to vent.
“From dodgy rashes to teething, feeding, sleeping, potty training – you name it someone else has been through it and is there to share their wisdom and reassurance. A living, breathing example of a community of mums helping to keep other mums sane and supported.” – Sophie, mum of two toddler twins, with one on the way
Have you tried them yet? Maltesers Chocolate Biscuits are the perfect excuse to put the feet up. Enjoy a cup of tea and Maltesers Biscuits as an afternoon pick me up, have an afternoon snap!