When I told everyone I was expecting my first baby they all said ‘it’ll be the hardest, but most rewarding thing you’ll ever do in your life’…little did they know what was to come.
I’d smile, hold back the sickness that a green apple (because for some reason my growing child only accepted red apples) was about to bring, and think that there couldn’t be anything harder than dealing with all the symptoms of pregnancy. My clothes didn’t fit me anymore, I was constantly tired but couldn’t sleep and the heartburn was indescribable – and my daily life went on. How naïve.
However, I now find myself muddling through parenthood, basically making it up as I go along, whilst the world around me is in chaos with a pandemic virus upon us.
So with all the free time that cancelled baby groups and activities can afford me I am going to write a series of blogs about my journey into parenthood and the crazy world we live in.
I’ve always said I hate routine, I never want to work 9-5, love to do things spontaneously, blah, blah, blah. But truthfully, we all love a bit of structure in our lives. It’s human nature. We have bloody internal clocks.
A little over 12 weeks ago I was still at work (doing shift work, which in my head was not a ‘routine’, but in reality is just a four week long routine…) I had the same commute every day, same pattern of shifts. I had work clothes and not-at-work clothes (*pyjamas) and my calendar was filled with appointments days in advance of them.
Now I am in lockdown with a newborn baby. All the things I wanted to do during maternity leave are cancelled and I can’t go and see my friends or family either. I am also very quickly beginning to realise that babies do not follow your schedule either. Any sort of planned routine seemed to be out of the window.
However, as the weeks have gone on I have tried to make sure there are things to do or look forward to every day so we can create our own little routine. I get up every morning and ask my son “What shall we do today?” (He says “goo” back at me, so we just try to do what I’ve already planned.)
We had a five week baby massage course on a Monday morning (how has five weeks gone so fast!), I do the weekly shop on a Tuesday, we go to a baby and toddler group on a Wednesday morning and on a Friday night we have a family quiz. Then at the weekend my husband is no longer working from home, and is just home. All done from the comfort of the house.
So when my son decided that he would kick off, then promptly fall asleep, right before his baby class one Wednesday, I got so annoyed. We’d had 100% attendance and it was part of our weekly routine. I may not get changed out of my pyjamas until lunchtime some days but I always sing ‘row, row, row your boat’ at 10.30am on a Wednesday!
This was the point that I realised I may actually be going slightly mad, missing some real routine…and probably need to accept as a new parent that routine is only ever loosely going to exist. Lockdown or no lockdown.
The parenting books and the internet like to tell you that a baby of a certain age should feed every X amount of hours and nap for X hours every day for a length of X each. It makes you paranoid when your baby doesn’t conform – but why should they? We eat when we are hungry and sleep when we are tired and that isn’t at the exact same time every day. Babies aren’t robots and maybe he just didn’t fancy singing nursery rhymes that morning.
The longer lockdown goes on, the more it messes with your head and the more you crave normality. I was already moving into a completely new routine and life when it started and have found myself with a completely different one again that I had never envisioned.
So I’m writing this to remind myself that there is a reason we are doing this. To protect each other and ride this out until we can go back to the routine and life we had all chosen. For now though we need to find our new routine and stick with it, so that we can go back to the lives we had before quicker.
As for being a new parent, I just need to accept that no matter what I put in place to keep myself sane – my son might not want to do what I want to do at the same time!