Below are some top tips I hope will make navigating this water a little easier for all parties involved.
- Try not to judge other mothers. They are doing the best they can. Babies don't come with instruction manuals. I don't care what you've read in this week's Families magazine. The article might say that Baby Bjorns can cause hip dysplaxia or not to give peanuts to children under 5. The mother doesn't need to know this. She just needs to get up in the morning, take a shower, and get around the supermarket before the baby wakes up or daddy gets home from work.
- Don't give advice unless asked. And even then if the mum starts to object.....just shut up.
- Best gift for new parents: Drop off dinner. In disposable containers. With paper plates and plastic cutlery. They don't have to use those but they can if they want to. Don't ask. Just do it. Make sure its microwaveable. Don't forget a bottle of wine for the new parents!
- Adore the newborn. Whilst you may not agree that the endless cooing over the baby's toothless grin is the cutest thing you've ever seen, pretend, at least for a while, that it is. This too will pass. And this is the greatest joy a new mother has. Share her joy.
- Let her do it her way. What worked for you as a mother might not work for her. What worked for your baby might not work for her baby. She needs to figure some things out for herself. And her baby is an individual. That is part of the journey. It's a bit like telling someone about your holiday. They can look at the photos but they have to go themselves to really enjoy the place.
- Give her space to learn. Some mistakes you've just got to make for yourself. Let her make her own mistakes just like you or her mother did. We all make mistakes. Our mothers all made mistakes. We are all still here. We are all still fabulous people. This is how we raise children. Don't criticise her.
- Worst gift for new parents/baby: Cuddly toys. Babies typically attach themselves to one cuddly toy (if any at all). The rest just gathers dust. Try giving nappies, wipes or clothes in the next size up, invest in a bond in the babies name or take advice number 3 above.
- Enjoy the journey with her. Even the rather scary hormonal trips up and down the rollercoaster of emotions. Show her you care about her through the tears and tantrums (hers not the babies). This is a new life we are building. This is hard work!