Raising a child is no joke. It’s a 24 hour a day job with no paid holidays, no set lunch breaks, no clocking on or off time – it’s all consuming and although rewarding it is also so, so tiring. The media paints a lovely picture of a mam doing it all and doing it on her own – Supermam.
Now I don’t know about you but in the later stages of pregnancy while sitting on the couch resting, I consumed a lot of that media. Although it does show how much work there is to do being at home either for the duration of maternity leave or long-term, it does also depicts the woman doing all this on her own.
As a new mammy to an eight week old girl, I definitely felt the pressure to do it all myself once my husband returned to work after his paternity leave. But alas, Supermam I am not – even recognising that I needed some help with things I still refused the offers. How many times has someone said to you ‘is there anything I can do to help?’ and how many times have you said ‘Oh, no not at all’.
Yes? Me, me to!
I made the mistake of voicing how tough it is to an older lady in general chat and was met with a barrage of ‘well I had eight and I managed with far less’. Yes, you may have managed with far less but you also didn’t have to contend with the pressures of modern society and the expectation placed upon mams. There is an old Irish saying which says ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Not so long ago everyone helped everyone raise a child, people looked out for each other’s children and there was no guilt in asking someone to watch the baby for a while.
When did that expectation change?
If we look to the animal kingdom there are many species that raise their young together. Take elephants for example. No one gets left behind, everyone fights for each other and you can be sure mammy elephant isn’t thinking of saying ‘thanks but I’ll manage myself’ while the legs nearly go from under her with the tiredness and the weight of the guilt of not loving every second of motherhood!
The thing about taking help from people to let mam (and dad) get a rest, is that you can parent your child much better if you are rested yourself. Walking the floors during the night with a colicky baby is just a bit more manageable, the task of remembering and doing the hundred things you need to in town is made a little bit more bearable, ensuring your family is fed, watered, clean and happy is a lot easier if you can manage to get some time to recharge.
So, the next time someone offers take the baby for the night so you can have a night out – say yes (they don’t need to know you intend to stay home, put on pjs and watch some terrible Christmas film on Netflix). The next time someone says is there anything I can do to help – say yes! Ironing, a message in town, pick up some shopping, prepare something to pop in the freezer for you – be specific. 99% of the time people are more than happy to be given an instruction and for the 1% – no doubt they will need your help at some time in future and you can return the favour then.