the hardest part of babyhood


Right now I’m in the hard stage of babyhood. It’s only taken me four babies to realise that for me, the 6-9month mark is the most challenging.

Marigold is expanding and exploring; gone are the slow, sleepy days when she would snooze in the bouncer or sling. Now, eyes wide and arms outstretched, she’s woken and she’s ready to go.

I’m doing my best to guide her along, all the while keeping up with everyone and everything else. My daily workload has increased significantly over the past few weeks; I’m preparing more food, subsequently washing more pumpkin-stained clothes, soothing sore gums with breastmilk and carrying her on my hip because frustrated squawks as she tries (and fails) to crawl is one of life’s more agitating soundtracks.

Sometimes I wonder what it must look like from the outside; it’s definitely loud and tiring, slightly chaotic and somewhat joyous, too. I think I most resemble one of the mums in a Shirley Hughes picture book. Or the slightly dishevelled family in the ramshackle house of Peepo.

A fortnight ago, at Marigold’s most recent check-up, I was chatting to my GP about how full my days are. So full! I recalled a high-school friend telling me that her mum was often up at 1am mopping the floor. At the time I couldn’t fathom why she would do that. But now? I wholeheartedly comprehend why she would mop the floor at 1am. Sometimes I’m up at midnight so I can get a few things done without interruption; a beeswax candle flickering on the table and a cup of tea nearby means it’s not so bad. The quiet is good, too.

And so to the GP I mentioned that I “should” be doing so much more than I am, to which she replied: “Should only makes you feel like you’ve failed.” And she’s so right. Because telling myself that “I should be doing that” and “I should have worked harder to get this done by school pick-up” is a pointless and emotionally detrimental conversation to have.

And yet I still have them!

And so in this full-to-the-brim period where I regularly sport squashed banana on my neck and spend far too much time scrubbing stains at the laundry sink, I’m amazed at the fact that I’m four kids into this business and there’s still stuff that puzzles me. Every day there’s something new! And yet here I am, more willing than ever to listen and learn.

They say four kids is easier than three and to that I say: CORRECT! Three is an almighty juggle yet when you get to four you’re a more relaxed, take-it-as-it-comes kind of mum. The little things don’t bother you because you don’t have the time, energy or inclination to be bothered by them.

So here I am, dishevelled yet less bothered, tired and happy and learning to remove “should” from my vocabulary.

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Showing 9 comments
  • Katrina

    Any image from Peepo would be delightful to appear like (in my opinion) xx

  • Kate

    I loved reading Shirley Hughes to my kids for the magical illustrations of real homes.
    3 of my 4 moved out this weekend for uni, I have all the time in the world for mopping now. Sigh.
    I replace should with could, I could do x but I’m choosing to do y instead. Sometimes y= read another Shirley Hughes book. X will wait and if it can’t wait then it’s probably the most important thing in that moment.
    Cheers Kate

  • Jackie

    Number four definitely means you have to go with the flow.

  • Nicole

    6-10-ish months has been hard for me too. With each of my three beautiful children I’ve found meals at this age the trickiest. Not what to give them, or the washing required after, but the time it takes for food to be consumed!

  • Gerlinde

    Oh look, she is like a real person already. That went quickly. Yes, 3 is just 2+1 but 4 is A Lot Of Kids.
    Your kids are so lovely 🙂 Percy… aww. Always makes me smile.
    Have 4 too and that nr 4 made our family a large family, even though she was the tiniest I gave birth to with just 4 kilograms, lol.
    Still recovering, she is 2 y 4 m now. It was intense and stays intense.
    But 4 is more like a group, where 3 is… 2+1. I have friends with 6 and 7 kids, who are still quite sane. Impressive! I was happy to feel, just like you wrote earlier that the chapter of ‘another baby’ is closed. That little one will always be the ‘baby’ of the family.

  • Erin

    This post was exactly what I needed to read today. Especially the part about “should.” I’m at home with my 9 week old baby (first one), and I honestly feel like I’ve got two voices in my head. One is telling me to enjoy these fleeting sleepy days as they are already going so fast, and the other voice is snarkily telling me I should really be tidying up, I should be putting a load of washing on, I should be doing the million other things on my list.
    Thank you for this reminder to breathe, relax and ignore that mean voice. The washing will be there tomorrow, but my little girl will never be this little again xx

  • mum of four

    I am a mum of four too, and I should also remove should!

    My son is going on school camp next week and his friend (one of two children) has already packed. My boy asked me why we hadn’t started packing yet…. where do I start? The piles of washing (still to be done), the clean washing (still to be sorted), the parent/teacher night for no 4 tonight, the homework help required for the big boy…. a week is a long time away in a large family with those busy, full days. It will happen, we will pack, he will make it to camp… all in good time!

    Enjoy those crazy busy days in this mixed up, muddled up, shook up world! I wouldn’t change my family for the world even though I seem to have less time, energy and money these days…!

  • Sharolyn Newington

    I agree that this is a challenging age! I think I’ve always felt it with my kids around 6-9 months too. With newborns I’ve always had a lot of support but that eases off, meals stop coming and the reality of the day to day sinks in. I have especially felt that with my eldest starting school this year!

    I have to say that having made an especially concerted effort third time around to rest for the first forty days (or so, partly on your recommendation and after reading that fabulous book, which I LOVED – book and the actual practice of it!) I felt a real sadness about having to get back into the normal swing of things after the 2 or 3 month mark. I missed the permission/excuse to rest, nourish, snuggle and so on. Now I’m in the thick of it. It’s such a juggle, but it’s beautiful in all that mess. You are doing brilliantly. Thanks for sharing the journey. x

  • Ronnie

    Oh Jodi, thanks for always writing from the heart. I always love reading your words and being inspired by your imagery.
    Ronnie xo

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