My Q & A with Tammy Hembrow

With 7 million followers on her Instagram platform, it’s safe to say that Tammy Hembrow is a very influencial and well known public figure. She Inspires countless women from all over the globe to strive to achieve post partum health and fitness, and is a firm believer that pregnancy does not mean you have to kiss a bikini body goodbye. Tammy has proven that a woman’s body can indeed look amazing after birth, and assures many of her followers that they too can get their body back post baby – determined to stamp out the stereotype that mothers cannot look good after having children. Tammy encourages women to have a more positive outlook on their physique, and maintains that mums all over can even improve their overall health and fitness after they have given birth and have children. She has been honest about her post baby journey on her Instagram account, keeping it real with her followers with progress photos only a few days after birth of her daughter Saskia, and continuing to update as the months have continued including details of her daily food intake. This has really helped her gain momentum with her following.

 

Tammy had both her children in under 2 years, and her following grew after the birth of her first son Wolf 2 years ago. She trained during both her pregnancies quite close to the end, demonstrating her commitment to a healthy lifestyle even when it was challenging. She resumed her training at the recommended time post baby and continued to nourish her body with the right nutrition. She credits achieving her post baby body that she has now to the right nutrition and exercise on average of 4 times per week. Tammy accurately sums up her advice as this – “Everybody is different and you should never compare yourself to others, but if you give your body the love, exercise and nutrition it deserves, you will reap the rewards.” Passing on her advice and experience to other women was her next step, and she has released an online gym and home based exercise program that has helped thousands of women become motivated to achieve health and fitness. On the back of the success of her exercise programs, Tammy launched her own luxury athleisure wear label Saski Collection this year, which was received with much enthusiasm from her fans and is already a huge success Australia wide and beyond.

 

 

Q & A Tammy Hembrow
Tammy keeping it real on her Instagram – showing her followers she also had a little cellulite after her pregnancy which would soon clear with correct nutrition. This was taken after her first workout since she gave birth to her daughter Saskia.

 

For many months I have overheard other women talk about Tammy in both a positive and negative manner, assuming they know what she thinks about certain subjects and voicing their opinions on her success, her account and her body. I wanted to approach her myself and ask her a few questions on things other than her fitness guides, so I contacted her for a quick Q & A for my blog. She was very down to earth, friendly and obliging, which initially I was surprised about considering her very large following and busy schedule. She really is a sweetheart and has a very casual way of interacting which was refreshing. With much curiosity surrounding Tammy and her Insta-famous status, I wanted to ask her a few questions relating to social media, self confidence and her feelings towards having such a large following. There is a lot more to Tammy than meets the eye, and I wanted to share a snippet of that with you all!

 

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Overall how much importance do you place on social media? Both from a business and personal perspective?

I think it’s very important in terms of my business. I have developed a great following and this has allowed me to open so many opportunities. Because of social media I was able to launch my clothing brand with great success, which was a passion project of mine. In terms of my social life it has less importance because I mostly spend time with my family and my babies don’t even know what it is haha.

 

What would you say would be the main purpose of your Instagram account?

To connect me with my fans. We’re seeing people connect with people of similar interests or specific expertise that are relatable. For me I think there are a few things that people can relate to: being a mum, my dedication to a healthy lifestyle, my interests in beauty and fashion and working hard to achieve your goals. Social media allows people to see different aspects of my life, which I think makes my followers feel closer to me.

 

Do you consider carefully what you share to the public before posting?

Yes, people will ask to see certain things and I listen to my followers and I do read their comments but some things I like to keep personal for privacy reasons like my house or sometimes locations I am at. In that regard I will make sure that I either post when I’m in a different location or that there are not any recognisable traits that could give away where I live.

 

Do you ever have any doubts about the message you are trying to portray on social media once you witness  people’s reactions?

I honestly don’t! While I’ve always enjoyed an active lifestyle, my teen years were generally unhealthy and unbalanced. With fluctuating weight and untoned muscles, I was unhappy and realised I wanted to change my body but also change my life. My interest in fitness became an addiction, and I was inspired by how good I felt but also the changes it was making to my body. I focus on tips and tools that can help people to achieve their own body goals whether it’s to gain or lose weight, everyone is different, and in the process I share my own experiences. The message I want to portray is that women can take control of their bodies, before and after kids. Your body goals are you body goals and no one person is the same, I would hate for people to think I was just advocating my body type, that was my choice and my own personal goal.

 

When your account started to rapidly grow, what were your initial thoughts?

I was excited! For me it happened really organically and my fans inspired me to keep pushing further and I hope to give back to my followers by sharing knowledge, experiences and expertise.  

 

Do you believe someone’s social media account always honestly reflects their “real life” persona?

Not at all. I think one big misconception is that my Instagram is a direct reflection of who I am. I don’t always look my best, I have nights where I’m up all night with the kids, I’m working, or just having downtime. People can be quick to label me based on my looks but that is just one part of me. A massive misconception is when people equate my looks with my intelligence or how hard I work. Just because I post a photo at the beach doesn’t mean I was at the beach all day, people can be really quick to judge.

 

You receive many positive comments on your photos, how does this make you feel when you read them?

I love seeing positive comments. I love people supporting other people.

 

What do you feel when you read negative or extremely inappropriate comments? Do some cross a line, upset or hurt you?

I’m not going to lie it does effect me sometimes, but not as much these days as it used to. I have definitely grown a thicker skin. I don’t have time for that kind of attitude and I think sometimes people need to be reminded that I’m a person and I see their comments. So if you write something mean and I see it – blocking you is my way of letting you know.

 

Would you feel comfortable sharing a couple of examples of hurtful/hateful comments you have received?

People say that I photoshop my photos or that my bum isn’t real, I think the most hurtful ones are hurtful because they’re not true. Or when people say I’ve had plastic surgery because I’ve taken a photo from another angle lol. I was openly honest about getting my breasts done (my only cosmetic surgery) after my babies and I didn’t have to be, it was something I did for me after breastfeeding. I didn’t have to share it but in some ways I did feel some pressure to because people would constantly comment on them. There was even an Instagram account dedicated to “exposing” the fact I got my boobs done even though I didn’t hide it.

 

Q & A Tammy Hembrow
Tammy modelling in her new label Saski Collection

 

As a whole do you think there are any negatives when it comes to social media? (This can even be very minor things)

I think there are for sure, some people hide behind their profiles and use them to say horrible things or put people down. I think that’s terrible.

 

Have there ever been times where you have been over all the “Insta-fame” that you want to just walk away from it all?

Not really it’s such a big part of my life and I really enjoy connecting with people. I can’t say I’ve wanted to walk away but there have definitely been ups and downs.

 

Does having such a large following on social media change how you feel about yourself?Say, earlier days compared to now?

It’s hard to say because I have grown to be the person I am today as my followers grew. Like I said I lived a very different lifestyle and I wasn’t as in control of my body and my body goals. So of course I feel different about myself today as opposed to then but I wouldn’t attribute it to my following but more to my own life choices and decisions.

 

Would you consider yourself a confident woman, social media aside?

I would consider myself confident in certain aspects of my life. I’m confident in my body and my family, not so confident when it comes to interviews haha sometimes I just don’t know what to say or feel awkward but I’m working on it.

 

Is there anything about your physical appearance or personality that you feel insecure about?

Not really haha people like to point things out though – like my jaw is slightly misaligned. I didn’t even notice until people started to mention it in my Youtube videos, it kind of goes to one side more.

 

Do you think women place too much emphasis on social media compared to real life? Feel free to elaborate…

I can’t really speak for other women but there has definitely been an increase in the role social media has in today’s society. More people are focussing on their social accounts and for some it has opened opportunities but I think it’s important to keep your own personal balance.

 

How much time per day on average would you spend on Instagram? 

Not much honestly, my days are really busy so sometimes I will only go on to post a photo and reply to some comments. If I’ve got some downtime though I spend more time online because it’s so available and I might end up scrolling through photos and reading comments for longer than usual.

 

Are you ever concerned about your children’s privacy when you share photos of them on Instagram?

This is something that I have become more concerned about. Now that Wolf is getting older I want to start posting him less, and the same with Saskia as she gets older. This is definitely something that I’ve been thinking about.

 

Lastly, what advice would you give your son or daughter one day if they were bullied online?

I think I will focus more on building their self confidence and self worth. Sadly I think there will always be bullies out there, both online and in person. I want them to know who they are as people and to be able to rise above negative comments as a result. In terms of advice I would let them know that retaliation can often make things worse so it’s better to take the high road.

 

Q & A Tammy Hembrow
Tammy and her family

 

Thank you for your honesty and taking your time in letting us get to know you a little better Tammy 🙂

 

 

Hope you all enjoyed reading!

 

J xx

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3 important pieces of advice you would give to your “new mum” self.

The thought that has come to mind in the past couple of months when I have a quiet moment to reflect on my personal parenting journey including the challenges it has presented is “why couldn’t I have known this earlier?”  If only we knew then what do know, we could have worried less about things that shouldn’t matter and focus on things that do. Easier said than done right? I am sure as mothers and fathers we have all thought that to ourselves at some point. In moments of reflection and self examination, we ponder how much growth we have experienced and how much we have learnt since we first became parents in those early weeks. I know I am one to ask myself “would things have been easier if I had known all this in the beginning?” Of course this is unrealistic as we all start somewhere. We go from being alone with our spouse, living selfishly by comparison – to welcoming a newborn into the world and having to accept and adjust ourselves in almost everyway in the weeks that follow. Time cannot be undone and we cannot go back and miraculously know what we do now. But we can make mental notes and reassurances for the next baby, or alternatively give sensible advice when asked by close mum/dad friends we may have that are transitioning into parenthood for the first time.

 

With parenting many of us start out thinking we know things in”theory” to finding that putting into practice is another matter entirely.   Certain things we thought we knew go out the window. We are overwhelmed in the first few months, trying to find our bearings and come to terms with this new role – this new life of parenthood. We sift through advice given by others and mix that with our inner maternal instinctual natures to find a level of equilibrium we can be content with. This takes various amounts of time for all of us. Along the way our lives turn into a beautiful chaos, where we sacrifice ourselves daily, persevere through exhaustion, challenges and self doubt to experience such elation and enumerable blessings.

 

In a way, giving advice to your “new mum” self is a bit of a make believe fantasy, but I have wanted to write from this angle as it gives me (and the other parents I have asked to feature in this blog) a non judgemental, personal and self confronting way to put into words our own honest and earnest advice. This in turn potentially triggers new revelation and encourages thoughtful reflection on their own parenting – how far they have come on their own personal journey.

 

I have asked 8 mothers and 1 father (not including myself) to write 3 pieces of advice they would give THEMSELVES on the subject of parenthood and I hope that in part it may offer new mothers and the like some gentle direction and hopefully some insightful and unique perspective from those who have some experience. It may even enlighten you to read advice that a mother would give to her new mum self and bring you to a point of realisation that none of us are perfect, none of us breeze through parenthood and we all have learned vital and life changing lessons from it. After reading what my fellow parents have written I have been deeply touched and moved by their personal advice and can say that I have taken from it and will apply small parts of it in future. Even though I am a parent to an 18 month old son I still have much to learn. I am sure parents of more than 1 child continue to learn as each subsequent child is born. Does the learning ever stop? I hope all parents or parents to be that read this blog entry derive only positivity, encouragement and support from it, and a hope for any parenting hurdles they may encounter in the future.

 

Each individual who was asked to be a part of this blog has their own opinions and advice to give, and I asked only that these parents give advice that was true and relevant to them – no matter how brief and to the point it may be. Some chose to elaborate, other parents kept their 3 points short and sweet. Either way I did notice that many of them had similarities or common denominators. Which confirmed with me that we all face similar challenges, encounter similar doubts and/or anxieties and also make similar mistakes or error in judgement (without sounding condemnatory).

I will start off with my own 3 points of advice I would give my new mum self – now just over 18 months ago when I gave birth to my son Jonah:

 

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1. Don’t wish away the time in a day – savour each moment. Even though Jonah has rarely ever been a difficult child, it is me that has struggled to adjust and be patient with my new role in life. This has meant I have sometimes wanted time to speed up, and have looked forward to nap times or each night I get to put Jonah down to bed. There was a short period of weeks there that I was wishing time away, wanting it to accelerate and pass by. If I could go back I would caution myself from doing this and would encourage my new mum self to savour each day, each new moment – and always look for the positive in it no matter how I was feeling that day. Tough days or hours will pass quickly enough without me looking forward all the more. My children will never be this age again, doing the things they do now. Just be content in each moment and cherish it.

2. Never cease to pray. Asking for the Lords help in those early days of parenting was something I did habitually. I drew comfort and reassurance as a Christian from my daily prayer life, and found that the Lord guided me through those early weeks and stopped me from despairing. I really struggled to accept my role as a mother (God is still working on me in this regard) but I recall that first night in hospital after I gave birth, the great weight of responsibility and reality of the fact I was a mother hit home with me. I felt myself start to sink into despair – which can be a dangerous place to be. If I would not have cried out to God to pull me from that, to console me, to help steer me onto the path He had for me – than I don’t know what would have happened in the weeks that followed. I knew in those early weeks how much a new mum needs the Holy Spirit in her everyday life. Along the way though I stopped praying as I used to. I got side tracked, flustered, caught up in the sometimes monotonous whirlwind of everyday life and schedule that I started to neglect my prayer life. I believe I have suffered for it slightly – I have drifted, I haven’t had the peace I once did, that clarity, that contentment I had been drawing from the Holy Spirit. I would urge my new mum self to never cease from praying and relying on the Lord for strength, guidance, comfort and encouragement. Seeking it from the world will never satisfy and will leave you empty and lacking over time. I believe 100% prayer and a close relationship with Christ brings out a better parent in me.

3. Don’t forget to prioritise one on one alone time with your husband. Phil and I have not done this enough admittedly. It is somewhat difficult for us as we have no family assistance when it comes to offers to watch Jonah, and have only had the occasional offer of a friend (that has no children) for a couple of hours. If I could go back I would just make it happen. Somehow. Although it’s much harder for us than many parents I encounter, I would invest in hiring someone that we could trust to watch our son whilst we went on a few dates together and invested time back into each other. Hanging out as friends and taking a little time out needs to be a frequent occurrence. Weeks can pass before new parents take a real breather together. Although Phil and I have always been good at talking and communicating together, we mainly found that it was simply doing something fun and lighthearted that we missed and have not done in SO long. Getting away from the house for a few hours together on a monthly basis is a healthy goal to have as a couple. I will be sure we do this next time around!

 

Sarah Richards – @raising_the_richards_three

Parenting advice for new mum
Mum to:

Ava 4.5
Jude 2
Oscar due in September

Looking back to the woman I was 5 years ago, pre kids; I hardly recognise her! She was a tad selfish, was in the midst of her money making years and working in marketing and sales management. She had different goals and definitely different values.  I’ve learnt so many brilliant life lessons since then, all of which I feel the universe sent my children to teach me. If I could take Sarah from 5 years ago out for coffee and have a chat with her I would tell her these three things about Motherhood.

1. Do whatever works for you and don’t sweat the small stuff.

I must credit Sarah from 5 years ago for following her instinct more than I imagined I would. But I want to reiterate to her that it doesn’t matter what other people think about your parenting methods; Because you’re not everyone’s mum and not everyone raises babies the same way.

When I first had Ava I was surprised and sometimes offended at some of the advice people were giving me (now I don’t think this advice was wrong; just not for me) people were telling me because Ava breastfed so much that she must be hungry and that I wasn’t making enough milk (funnily enough Ava was off the growth charts as a baby) People also said “ohhh she will be sleeping in your bed until she’s 8!” When they found out we decided to co sleep with Ava. (She got a big girl bed at 2 and has been happily sleeping in it through the night ever since, she’s nearly 5) I’m so glad I stuck to my guns and followed Ava’s lead on everything when everyone was telling me it was “wrong”
I would definitely tell myself that people really are trying to help, they aren’t trying to annoy you or upset you – they genuinely give their opinions in the hope of making your life easier. However; always do whatever works for you. I’ll never judge another mama for the way she chooses to raise her child, if it works for her and bub then who am I to question it?

2. Every baby isn’t the same! Act accordingly.

After having Ava and successfully breastfeeding her for almost 17 months I thought I was a pro. So when I had Jude my son and he struggled to feed I was in disbelief. I was under the assumption once you’ve breastfed a baby, every subsequent baby you have will latch on and feed like a natural and you’ll both just get it. I remember Adam going home the night of Jude’s birth and me and Jude being left alone overnight at the hospital. I found myself in tears to my midwife, begging for help because we just couldn’t get it right. It was so different to Ava, Jude had a lazy latch and wouldn’t drain me properly. He would guzzle milk for 2 mins and then fall asleep. Luckily we both learnt and adapted together and I managed to successfully feed Jude till almost 17 months also, but a valuable lesson was learnt from those early months. Don’t compare your babies and don’t expect them to be the same or need the same parenting from you. They are have different needs because they are different people.

3. These moments are fleeting and the hard times do pass.

I’m currently 4 weeks out from giving birth to our third child and I honestly feel like I gave birth to my firstborn only a few years ago. The saying the days are long but the years are short rings so true for me. Sometimes when you’re borderline panic attack because your kids haven’t stopped arguing all day, the house is a bomb site, you haven’t managed a shower because the tiny dictators have given you far too much to do for personal hygiene, (how selfish of you Mum!) it’s hard to remember how fast it all goes. But when they are needy and want to be held or played with I always try and give them what they need from me, they won’t always be this little they won’t always need me or want me around.
The teething passes, the tiredness passes and before you know it you’re ready to do it all over again. I truly try to cherish these moments today because tomorrow I’ll wake up and have 3 moody, hormonal teenagers and a brand new list of reasons to be borderline mental breakdown. 😉

 

Jaimie Orchard – @jaimieorchard

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Mother to Hunter James (3 in August) and Vaida Jean (15 months)

 

  1. Follow the mantra, “This Too Shall Pass”. It is very comforting know any obstacle of sleepless nights are developmental milestones which will not last forever. It’s a great mantra to tell yourself while you’re up at 3am feeding/resettling multiple times a night! I also found comfort in knowing I’m not the only person up at that time; those long nights can be lonely!
  2. Baby wear, especially in the afternoon/evening “witching hour”. Baby wearing keeps baby content during those unsettled hours of the evening and enables you to cook dinner/clean the house/relax  while your baby is comforted and safe on your chest. It’s great for colic and teething too as your baby is upright and able to pass gas easily. Watch your baby, not the clock.
  3. You don’t have to follow the “Baby Book” l. Find your own groove as you learn what kind of mother you are/want to be. Bedshare/co sleep if that’s what works for your family. Don’t feel like you have to sleep train because your baby isn’t sleeping through etc. As long as your baby is healthy, happy and thriving, you’re doing a good job mama! Listen to your mothering instincts and let your baby take the lead. Every baby is different and no baby book takes that into account.

Nadine Muller – @nadinemuller__

Parenting advice for new mum
Mum to Madden, aged 23 months
3 of MANY things I would tell myself before I became a mum!
1. IT’S OK TO NOT LOVE MOTHERING EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY –
Whilst on the most part motherhood is like first hand experiencing magic (only a million times better) it’s ok to also have days where it’s just about surviving. It’s ok to silently curse under your breath, it’s ok to ask for help, and it’s ok to even be jealous of your pre-mum self while you pick yourself up off the floor. But also know that you were every bit hand picked to be the mother of your children, and mark my word when I say that no one can mother your children like you can. Sometimes there will be days when you will feel like you have your work cut out for you but you are 110% the one cut out to accomplish them too.
2. ASK FOR HELP/ACCEPT HELP –
Ask for help and support from those you trust, your husband, in-laws, friends etc because guess what you will need it from time to time. You are not superhuman say no to things that you don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do and accept help when it is offered. You are human, ditch the pressure of being and doing everything on your own and trying to parent perfectly. You can read all them books, google from here to next week, have ‘organic’ written all over you but you will soon realise that parenting is a constant balancing act that is forever changing, and requiring ongoing adaptations and you will never get everything perfectly right all of the time. And the times you think you do, a change will be just around the corner! The beauty of parenthood! Don’t get caught up in trying to be perfect, parenting mistakes along the way is only inevitable. Sought help, accept help and learn to enjoy not having everything so organised all the time!
3. MOTHERHOOD DOESN’T MEAN THE END TO THE THINGS YOU ENJOY –
I cannot emphasise enough of the importance of looking after yourself in order to best look after the ones who need us. Take the time to look after you too, yes there will be times when things don’t go according to plan and we might come further down the ladder, but it doesn’t have to be like this continually. Looking after ourselves is apart of looking after our family. This can be anything that makes you feel whole, it might be going to the gym, it might be a trip to the hairdressers, or a catch up with a girlfriend, whatever you need to do in order to fill your own cup!

 

 

Keearla Johnson – @keearla__

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Mum to Stella, aged 19 months

 

The three important pieces I would give to my new mum self would definitely be:

 

  1. Relax. Confidence comes in time – within a few weeks you will be killing this mum gig, most new mothers get this overwhelming feeling at first too. You are not the only one, ask for help.
  2. Cherish the time with your new born. It is so cliche but it’s one of the truest statements I have heard. They develop every single day; I really wish I embraced those newborn days so much more.
  3. Talk to more mothers’ about the stages I am going through and the tough days, I do it now but in the beginning I didn’t! Without a doubt someone has dealt with the same experience and can reassure you it’s completely normal.

 

Super generic but these are what ring true to me!

 

Krista Dennis – @fithappymummy

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Mother to Maverick aged 4, and Elkie aged 18 months
1. Don’t compare your baby to others. They are all different. Some will sleep. Some won’t. Some will feed. Some won’t. Some will cry. Some won’t. Some, no matter what you do will not change. Others will. Learn to love that special babe you have and comfort them. They’re only little for long 💕💕
2. When you plan on meeting someone, tell yourself it’s 30 mins earlier than the planned meeting time…
That way you’ll arrive dead on time 😂😂🙈🙈
3. Nothing works like the book! Life is a journey, love it and enjoy it. If we were all the same life wouldn’t be much fun would it?!

 

 

Jesse Manners – @fatherlikesons

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Father to Riley 4, and Boston aged 19 months

  1. Just because it looks funny it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I stupidly taught Riley to say a bunch of albeit hilarious things to say, they have been the platform for some seriously cheeky/naughty one-liners used at the worst of times.
  2. Reverse psychology can be a real jerk. The whole, ” no please don’t eat your veggies, I really want to eat them.” Has led to a fair bit of confusion for Riley because now when I say “Riley don’t you even think about grabbing that piece of chocolate from your mother’s stash.” He automatically gets that same cheeky grin and goes right for it.
  3. The internet and technology is not a free baby sitter … keep in mind that while I am recommending this I actually don’t practise this at all. What’s the definition of a hypocrite again? Haha.

 

 

Tammy Hembrow – @tammyhembrow

Parenting advice for new mum

Mum to Wolf 2, and Saskia aged 1

 

– I don’t need to worry so much about finding a routine, that I will get there eventually

– Remember to also take time for myself and my relationship with my partner when I can

– Not to compare my experiences with other previous experiences too closely, kids will be kids and each one is an individual

 

Susie Stafford – @miss_susieq_fitmum

Parenting advice for new mum

Mum to Cooper, aged 14 months

– Trust your instincts!
Dr Google doesn’t give accurate medical advice. And friends/family/ mothers groups can only help a certain amount. Always trust your instincts with your baby. You know your baby best!

– Post natal depression/perinatal depression isn’t anything to be ashamed of!
Having suffered mental illness since a teenager, I knew all the signs of PND. Yet for some reason I was more ashamed of knowing I was suffering whilst pregnant and post natal. There is always a stigma behind any form of mental illness, and to feel that I wasn’t ‘thankful’ to be pregnant or to have a healthy new baby made it worse. Seek help from those who care and know you best, because suffering in silence doesn’t help you or your baby or your relationships.

– Only take advice that resonates to you!
You will be given countless amounts of unsolicited advice from other mums/family members/friends. A lot of this advice will be conflicting, and some won’t suit your lifestyle, situation, beliefs. Only take on board what you want. No baby is the same as another, and every little life requires different help.

 

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The last person to write on my blog (but certainly not least) is my friend Bron, who I met at a new church my husband and I started attending about 3 months before we left on our holiday overseas. I wanted to make a special note here about what she has written. As a fellow Christian mother we have extremely similar parenting points of view and reading Bron’s words affected me in a deep way. I can’t exactly explain how much it resounded with me on more than one level, but if I could have written a fourth or fifth point, Bron’s words below capture my own thoughts and opinions as a Christian parent better than I may have even be able to write. What she has written here drew me into a reflective place of meditation on the link between Christ and motherhood.

 

Bron Pirrotta – @mytiny.tribe

Parenting advice for new mum

Mum to Malia Sage – 3, and Macey Rain – 9 months

 

Three pieces of advice I wish I’d known as a new mum:

1

Coming into motherhood initially I had fairly relaxed views. My first birth was so natural and ‘easy’… as far as pushing a human out of you can be, and the first few months were challenging but fairly regular so far as life goes with a newborn. The first time I felt the ‘mum worry’ overcome me (often brought about due to the opinions of others/society or self doubt) was at my daughters 4 month check up. “How’s she sleeping?” the young, fresh-out-of-uni doctor asked, “she’s… not, really…” (well it felt like that at least) “OH WHAT?! She’s not sleeping through?” Doc asked in shock horror (I now know how ridiculous it is to expect a fully breastfed 4 month old to sleep through! but then? I TRUSTED her. She was the ‘professional’ after all.) “Go out and by the book save our sleep, like, today!” she suggested. I did. And I let my precious 4 month old little girl cry herself to sleep alone instead of being held by her mama’s soft warm chest like she longed for. Oh how I regret these days and weeks of listening, desperately waiting for the crying to stop (only in hopes that I could relieve the desire to go in to her). Yes, my daughter eventually started sleeping through (and don’t get me wrong, I do think there is a place for sleep training, but NOT at 4 months old, and NEVER totally alone). I was so desperate with my first to be in control, to have her sleep through so I could regain some semblance of a normal life and fully functioning brain back… little did I realise that once you have kids your brain never functions the same again! Babe number two has been blessed with, so far 8 months of co-sleeping (or breast -sleeping really) that my first baby girl unfortunately was not. The lesson I have learnt through this is, embrace sleeplessness, every morning I have to make a good decision for myself and my kids: enjoy today, no matter how tired you are, be present, have a coffee, and be humble/vulnerable enough to call someone and ask for help, tell your partner when you need a break to take a nap or shower alone, they aren’t mind readers. And lesson B from this experience, learn to forgive yourself (and the doctor!) and show a graciousness to that 21 year old mum who lacked confidence in her authority and leadership as a mama.

2

As a Christian, motherhood has taught me immensely about God and His feelings toward us/me as his child. Most times these lessons come from me trying to teach my daughter something eg. “you need to be obedient even if you don’t want to because I am wiser and know/want what’s best for you”. (Go figure; it took me becoming a parent to really get the gist of that lesson from God!)

The main thing I have learnt throughout my almost 4 years as a mum is to constantly bring my parenting back under the lens of how God treats us (**side note – I also bring parenting back to how I’d feel if it were me. eg. what would help me in a situation where I’m feeling emotional like my 3 year old often is? Certainly not someone yelling in my face telling me to stop crying which unfortunately, I’ve been known to do at times.**)

So… as long as I’m putting my parenting under the lens that God looks at me through eg. desiring obedience, loving me unconditionally, disciplining me with graciousness gentleness and calm and most vitally viewing me with joy and adoration of his creation.

Underneath this idea of placing God ahead of everything in parenting comes the idea of putting my husband before my kids and keeping as an absolute team with him. We have had our ups and down, certainly in the first two years of my eldest daughters life. Yet as we have embraced each other, the parenting journey may not be ‘easier’ but we certainly feel more supported and comforted throughout it. Though we still have our differences and disagreements about parenting styles we know that no matter what the day has brought we can sit down together in the evenings and debrief without judgement and recognise our flaws and triumphs. This always helps ground me in embracing what the new morning (or night!) may bring.

So, advice: Put God first in all aspects of life; this is absolutely vital in staying grounded in who you are and as a parent. When i spend deliberate time with God nourishing my soul, the ‘mama’ part in me is filled to keep me focused on who I am in Christ and what my calling is as his child. Keep your eyes focused on your spouse and aim to never identify more as a mother than a wife. The love that flourishes and stems from your marriage falls directly onto the heads of your children – they are covered by it and sense it within the family bond created through the foundation of your marriage.

3

Let go. Let go of those expectations of perfectionism; expectations from society, from your partner, family, but most of all SELF. I am my own worst critic, particularly when it comes to mothering. I waste precious moments (and energy) in my mind beating myself up for not being damn well perfect as a mum. Hold on to the moments you trust yourself fully and learn to embrace the challenges that you think you can’t face (even such as listening to a whinging 3 year old for one more minute!)

This is absolutely my greatest challenge as a mother; being to harsh on myself.

The main exercises I practice in order to cope with this and change my thinking / beliefs about myself, are debriefing and mindfulness. In order to debrief, find some one trusted (for me its my counsellor, and my husband) and ask them to help you recognise what is objectively true about the situation. Embrace that, whether you like it or not, and if you didn’t like it, find a goal to work toward.

Mindfulness and attentiveness exercises also play a big part in helping me think positive, be present and enjoy my mothering journey. Letting go of what I can’t control, surrendering it all to Jesus and embracing my brokenness, even as a mama.

I love the saying “the days are long but the years are short” in my journey thus far I can absolutely identify with this. I reach the evenings, my back aches from carrying a baby all day, my mind is blurry from answering non-stop questions about everything from the 3 year old, my eyes are weary from waking 5 times the night before, but I look at my eldest daughter and see her suddenly becoming an independent little child and my crawling baby is no longer a sleepy newborn. Summer, when my belly was swollen about to birth, felt like just yesterday and it’s almost the end of winter. Breathe Mama, the journey is brief. You are only learning, and you will keep on learning the whole journey through.

 

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I appreciate each and every mother (and father) for featuring on this blog entry and for taking the time to write from the heart. I am so grateful each of these parents gave insight into their own private parenting journey to some degree  – as any of their pointers given would be a direct reflection on what they have personally experienced or been through. I really hope that each parent draws only positivity from what has been written and find it encouraging and useful in more ways than one.

 

Take care,

 

J xx