Parenting style the third time around

Nikki ParkinsonLife 18 Comments

Sponsored by Bupa Australia

When I look at the photo below of my first-born children, the cute factor is (almost) lost on me.

Ok, so the babies in this photo are now adults. Therefore CUTE.

BUT.

Bupa Nightwatchmen campaign - advice and support for women in the trenches of babyhood

Oh my. This image represents my time deep in the baby-parenting trenches. I get a bit tense and twitchy just looking at it. NINETEEN YEARS ON.

The side-by-side stroller was not very practical but it held my three-month and 20-month in a manageable place so we could all get out and just breathe.

My daughter on the left has red-rimmed eyes from just completing a reflux-induced screaming episode. Note the strategic placement of the cloth nappy in the photo – always at the ready for the next time.

My son, bless, is about to paint himself and his favourite Bananas in Pyjamas t-shirt with that ice cream, which for some ridiculous reason, I thought was a GOOD idea. Or a bribe.

I can guarantee that both babies are more fashionably dressed than I would have been (even with aforementioned Bananas tee in play).

Remember. TRENCHES.

Fast-forward eight or so years and this was me.

Bupa Nightwatchmen campaign supporting new parents in the first 1000 days of parenting

The trenches are still very much a thing but LOOK at me. I (almost) look like I’ve spent three months at a day spa, not attending to every waking need of my third born.

I felt like this in hospital too. I sat there on my double bed in my soft-pant ensemble, hair washed – and BLOW DRIED. The bar fridge was stocked with Champagne and soft cheeses for visiting time. I welcomed visitors with open arms.

At home when he was soundly asleep, I had a shower. And if he woke up, I knew a few minutes of crying wouldn’t hurt while I was drying myself off. 

The difference between baby photo #1 and baby photo #2?

CONFIDENCE.

Yes, the nights were still long. Yes, sleep deprivation was not pretty – for all concerned. Yes, those little bundles require so much of you. Every waking hour.

But I knew I could do it. I knew that the time goes SO quickly. I knew that just when you thought you’d never be able to climb out the trenches, you can and you do.

I also knew that it was important to look after me too. I knew that it was ok to carve out an hour here for a coffee with a friend or three hours there for a freshening up of my unnatural blonde locks.

I knew that my entire clothing budget did not have to be dedicated to my child. That I deserved to have some new things, to look and feel the best I could.

In a sense, I became my own supporter, my own champion, my own Nightwatchman – something I just wasn’t able to be the first time around.

I was also in a position to pay it forward to the mums I met in antenatal classes. I was having my third baby and a refresher on how the hospital and midwives worked; they were having their first experience and feeling all the feels I felt way back when.

OVERWHELMING.

That’s why I’m on board with Bupa Australia’s Nightwatchmen initiative with my fellow bloggers, Beth from BabyMac and Kayte from Woogsworld. Bupa realises that the first 1000 days of parenting can be challenging and is encouraging each of us to reach out and help a new family who might need it. Even small gestures of support can make a difference.

If you’ve already been through the trenches, you’re probably already nodding. If you’re someone who wants to lend a hand but doesn’t quite know where to start, there’s a range of ideas and inspiration at BupaNightwatchmen.com.au, and even a quiz to get you started.

We caught up recently in Beth’s kitchen to share our baby-parenting war stories. Beth is back in the trenches and exuding that third-time-around confidence. Kayte and I can now (thankfully) laugh about those early days.

The Styling You Facebook community has been amazing, getting on board and sharing the best advice they received while a new mum – advice that other mums could benefit from. Check out the comments in the post below.

3 pieces of advice that helped me

Advice is not always wanted or listened to but I think if it’s offered when asked for then you can be very much helping out another new parent.

The three pieces of advice I received as a first-time mum that helped me get through those 1000 days were:

  1. Babies love routine (especially if you do too). It’s probably not parenting-PC these days but all three of my babies thrived on having a structure and pattern to their day. Yes, there were days when that plan went out the window but the structure was key to all of us getting back on track and through the next day and night.
  2. You will look back and realise that it all went so quickly. I joined a mother’s group while I was pregnant – friends of mine had had their babies and they invited me along. Listening in and observing was an eye opener as to what was ahead of me. One of the mums (whose first born is a year older than mine) said to me, with a smile on her face and a firm grip on her coffee, “What seems a big deal now will end up being such a short time of their life, don’t wish it away”.
  3. You know your own baby better than any other person.THIS is the single most useful piece of advice you can have when confidence is lacking and you’re afraid your intuition is too. I’m here to tell you, it’s not. Your intuition is GOOD. Listen to it. Listen to your baby and go with what works for you and your baby. Every child is different. Every parent is different. You have to work out what works for you as a team – not what someone else thinks will work for you.

So tell me, do you or did you have support in those early days? Did you receive any gems of advice that helped you through? Do you know a friend or family member who is experiencing their first 1000 days of parenthood? How can you be their Nightwatchman?

Bupa Nightwatchmen campaign supporting new parents in the first 1000 days of parenting

You can find out more about the Bupa Nightwatchmen campaign here.

Coordinated by The Remarkables Group

Comments 18

  1. Great campaign Nikki!

    “I joined a mother’s group while I was pregnant – friends of mine had had their babies and they invited me along.”

    -I’m a first time mom, when I was pregnant I was also invited to join mom’s group… They help me a lot–emotionally and spiritually.

  2. I couldn’t be further away from babies but I think this is a great idea! Your little boy (not so little now?!) must love having older siblings!

  3. Gosh what a brilliant campaign and so glad am I that I am a BUPA member. My first baby was a good baby and healthy and growing well. I however was an overly anxious parent. Never in my life before had I felt I learned so much in such a little time frame and felt the enormity of what I was responsible for.
    Thankfully I did have a band of night watchmen looking after me. My mum was my greatest supporter and ‘Dial-a-Nan’ was often in action.
    Having had my second and last child, I see he difference in my parenting and also the difference in his chilled out, relaxed nature- hopefully that prenatal yoga paid off.
    Thankyou for being involved in this. It’s great to hear your voice .

  4. I think the first 1000 days I was pretending to be ok. Then I lost my shiz a bit after that. I think the night watchmen need to be on guard spreading kindness as often as they can to any mum with a kid under 2. Ok, maybe until the kid is a teenager.

  5. I’m currently in that first 1000 days with my 4th baby. I had a bit of help with the children over the years but I’m a tad stubborn and tend to say “Yes, I’m fine” and just get on with it. I think it always is good to book in a hair appointment in the first few weeks of having Bub…always makes you feel rejuvenated. Mum’s have to realise it’s not selfish to put their well-being at the top-of-the-list. After almost losing my life after having my third, I absolutely made this a priority after my fourth, resulting in a happy Mum & very confident Bub. Your Babies looked like little darlings Nikki, cute pics 🙂

  6. Did the quiz, I am a restorer…this was quite timely, a younger colleague has had a baby and unexpected death of a sibling. She is so tired and wrought out. Three of us are going with her permission next week to give her a break, one in charge of baby i.e. walking him outdoors for a few hours, one in charge of prepping lunch with leftovers for her family and one in charge of house tidy.
    She can sleep, go have a massage, whatever she likes…all three of us have been there and its the best gift.

  7. Good on you Nikki (and Beth and Kayte too) for being involved in such a worthwhile campaign, I wish something like this was around when I had my baby. It only seems like yesterday but I still remember those early days as well. I wasn’t a great first time ( only time) Mum, so uptight and anxious and so out of my depth, but I was so blessed to have my own mum and dad literally around the corner close by who really got me, got us all really, through those early months, mainly Mum, as dad travelled a lot for work. I do feel for any new mum who cannot just pop around the corner and drop bubs off for a few hours or have their mum come over and cook or bring dinner and look after bubs while you go and have a shower and wash your hair. I definitely agree about getting into a routine though Nikki , a lovely Midwife at Mater Mothers told me that and said whatever you do, get a routine happening, you will all be thankful for it, and we were.

  8. So true Nikki, being a first time Mum is hard I remember coming home with my son James and thinking,we now have to look after this baby all by ourself,we had help of course from my parents and inlaws who were amazing but I often thought why don’t they make a baby manual,they make one for everything else,luckily he was a really placid easygoing baby who actually slept! I got a shock when my daughter was born she was the exact opposite to her brother but I learnt to just go with the flow by then.
    I plan on doing so much for my daughter not just when the baby is born but now,helping her when she’s tired and cooking dinners for them and giving her presents just because and anytime they need a break “Glam Ma ” will be there to help.This is the best campaign ever Xx

  9. I love this post Nikki. It is all just so true. The trenches are not pretty. Some people just totally rock it, are so easy going and nothing phases them… well that certainly wasn’t me! The first 4 years is not a happy place for me. I am finally out of the trenches and NEVER EVER want to go back there. I am in the light and so happy to see it. We are often to proud to ask for help and with our first baby we think we can do it all…. “this baby isn’t going to change my life” – then by the second we realise we just have to roll with it…. by the third it is much better. If I could go back to that first baby I wouldn’t be so uptight, I wouldn’t be so worried about what other people think of me. Oh so much easier said than done.

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