on being a new mum

this little chair allows Poet to reach the high door handles / birthday flowers from my man / it’s tiring work being so small / domesticity for little people (and one of the very best presents she has ever received – find it here)
I read an article yesterday that said, rather blatantly, that three is the most stressful number of children to have. But give a mum four children and she’s finally learned to let go.

Is it stressful having three children? Perhaps it’s too early on in the piece to provide a well-informed answer. Personally, I find this newborn stage to be much easier than teething, crawling and eating solids. But still, there’s something about being a new mum, even if it is my third time, that requires a shift in perspective and, more importantly, a reshuffling of priorities.

I spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy ensuring that the house was spick and span and all the while there was a motherly voice in my head that reminded me that it wouldn’t be long before I’d have to relinquish control. I’m currently in the midst of that struggle; sitting on the chair feeding Percy and watching, as if in slow motion, the house unravel.

But an unravelling house is better than an unravelling mind so I turn my gaze towards the little one and remind myself that this stage is precious…and he won’t be this little for long. And then, on a more practical level, I make a list of chores that need to be done – numbered in order of priority. Usually the washing comes first and I try my best to get one load washed, dried and folded every day (it’s the putting away stage that rarely gets done). I then turn my attention to the dishes and do them when Percy is asleep in the sling (I’ve discovered that the running water calms him if he’s unsettled). Everything else gets done if the time (and Percy) allows.

Now that Che and Poet are on school holidays and true autumn has arrived, it’s definitely time to look at their wardrobes and embark on a seasonal purge. I also have to go through all the boxes of hand-me-downs and sort out clothes for Percy (he’s very long-limbed and I’m determined to go by the actually size of the clothes rather that the number on the tag – 000 and 00 can be so misleading!). But this is the kind of task that requires Daniel to be home so I’ll wait till the weekend and do it with a big cup of tea in hand.

I realise that tending to the home whilst raising small children can be challenging and relentless work but to be honest, I’m enjoying the predictability of it. Days roll into nights which roll into days…

What do you find most challenging about being a new mum? 

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Showing 14 comments
  • Annika

    Good evening Los Angeles… I have a ten month old son and am about to open my own women's clothing and housewares shop in our little neighborhood. I have been home with our son since he was born and loved the easy rhythm of our days. Now, this past month of work in preparation to open the shop– ordering, painting, endless emails and phone calls– has resulted in a chaotic animal house. Dishes and laundry have fallen to the wayside never mind vacuuming and tidy beds. I feel like the shop is my second child and so I can only imagine the responsibility of a third. Somehow, we'll make it through though, disheveled or not. xo

  • Audrey

    The housework – the big stuff like vacuuming & bathroom/toilet – caused me endless angst when Evelyn was born 8 months ago. When my husband had to extend his hours at work, he said I could spend the extra money however I liked – I immediately blurted out "I want a cleaner!!!". She comes for 2 hours every fortnight and I am so much more relaxed knowing it'll get done (even if the place is a mess the day after she's been!). I agree with you though, newborns are sooo much easier in some ways – now Evie is crawling and eating everything she can get into her mouth everything is so complicated! I miss the days where all she wanted was a cuddle & a nurse!

  • Lucy W

    I Iove your musings as a Mum of three as we to and fro on our decision to expand on our family. I had two under two and to be honest, I think I was more productive with my time when they were little than I am now they're 2 and 4 and not as needy. My favourite moments when I was a new Mum was feeding the baby with the sun beaming through the window while the toddler played happily at my feet. It didn't always happen of course but when it did, it was utter joy.

    • Kristina

      I have definitely found that our family is more productive with our time as we've added more children. Now with three if we need to be out the door by 8 am it's a crunch but no big deal, I shudder to remember our struggle to be out the door with just one baby, we were a mess! This is something about having more children that I would never have anticipated.

  • Reply

    Absolutely beautiful… a wonderful piece of writing. I'm not a mum *yet* but will definitely come back to this post when I am one.

    x Acacia

    PS do you use the Sigma 50mm 1.4 or the Canon 50mm 1.4? Thank you! 🙂

  • Roseann Bath

    I appreciate your perspective, Jodi. Thanks for making the time to share.

  • Malayka

    Great post and so honest. I always enjoy reading these because I suspect that personality wise we might be quite similar. My daughter is two years old and I've finally in recent months learned to (a) just relax and let things go a bit, and (b) find some rhythm in our lives that allows us to have lots of fun but for me to know that the house is clean and meals are prepped at the end of the day. This has helped HUGELY toward my anxiety levels and stress. But now I'm 18 weeks pregnant with number two and know it's all going to be turned on its head again. I'm a bit nervous… but like you say, you just have to sit back and let the chaos unfold during those early months.

  • Jess B

    I found having three children was quite a big adjustment from having two – though, like you, I find the 'baby' stage the 'easiest', so it's not straight away that you feel the stretch. When our fourth was born – despite it being an incredibly difficult year (renovations, husband with a head injury, and a newborn) – you have it right: I'd finally learned to let go. Not in the sense of having a messy house and dirty children all the time, but more in the sense of priorities and control-freak-ish-ness. 🙂 A wise friend of mine has said that you feel the stretch more on the odd numbers (1,3,5 etc) – I'm 30 weeks with our fifth baby now, so I'll let you know! 😉

  • Reply

    That sounds like an interesting article, I'd love to read it. Certainly once you've surpassed the number of hands you've got with the number of kids, it become extremely challenging. I think with 4 yes, you have certainly learned to let go to an extent (I mean let's face it, this is survival) but that also by that time you are older and have internalized that you can't have it all. Does that make sense? For example, I work from home, but have put an absolute moratorium on conducting any work-related activities or even checking any work email during the waking hours of the 4 kids; it's just too stressful to bear. I'm an editor and so when Jude is nursing and swatting the keyboard, or all of the kids are melting down from hunger at precisely the same time as I'm trying to package up hard copies…total disaster. What client wants communication from an editor that is incoherent and riddled with typos, right? I feel like you have to be more rigorous about keeping the boundaries firm because there is just so much going on, and if you feel like things are being managed piece meal, it can feel very stifling. The best solution I've found, each and every time (especially as a new mother) is to get out of the house as much as possible. Play ball with the kids, ride bikes, take walks, breastfeed on a park bench in the sun…just be.

  • Jacinta

    I always knew 3 would be harder, but I found the transition from 1 to 2 the hardest. 2 to 3 seems that little bit easier. Maybe it's because my eldest (7) is old enough to help out, but young enough to actually want to! But my gosh at the end of every day I. am. exhausted. Doing the school runs in those early days is tough. Hope you're enjoying the slower mornings these holidays!

  • SimpleHappy

    There's something about your words that always calms me and reassures me that everything will be ok… I can't quite explain this effect, as my way with words is always behind my feelings, but it seem deeper than just loving the way you write. Thank you taking the time to write

  • primjillie

    I had three little ones within 3 1/2 years (all grown now), but I found this close age range worked well. They kept each other company, entertained each other and played with each other. They were close enough for similar eating and nap times, and luckily, they were all champion sleepers which helped immensely. I was a stay at home mom and enjoy housekeeping, so it was important for me to have made beds and a clean kitchen. Sort of made up for all the toys and craft projects………. I think back on the very young ages being my favorite.

  • Carie

    I found the jump from 2-3 so much easier than from 1-2 but I also know mums who found it the other way round. I suspect it depends a lot on your children's personalities and your style of mothering. With my three I'm busy, I'm certainly tired but I don't think I'm stressed. When Pip was very new and tiny the amount of sitting still as my house unravelled could get frustrating but I got used to it quickly enough!

  • Brandi

    Watching the house unravel…yes. Seems like I do that quite a bit. It seems to get harder and harder. Especially when they have their own 'stuff.' Or the various 'stuff' of different children, different ages. I am struggling with that one for sure!

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