In this month's M&B column, Giovanna Fletcher says '2018, you’ve been wonderful… and 2019, we’re ready for you!'
It was only a couple of days into 2018 when I found out I was pregnant. This changed quite a few of the plans for the year ahead – not only work ones (books were pushed back, Tom had to take my place on a charity trek, and I had to say no to things I’d been planning on doing), but also family plans. Like when we’d be able to go on a family holiday, what car we were driving (I had no idea you can’t get three ISOFix seats in a row in most cars) and smaller, almost laughable things around the house, like being stuck with the stairgates for another couple of years!
Falling pregnant also made me look at my life/work balance and how much external pressure I was allowing in. I didn’t change anything overnight and, if anything I was working more in the later stages of my pregnancy as I ploughed through to get everything done. But then! Then Max arrived I had no choice but to take a breather, to step away from my computer and really assess how much I was still doing when I should technically have been on maternity leave.
And I think I’ve learnt a lot from removing some of those pressures, and it has made me a much more present mother. I haven’t been frustrated if the boys won’t go to sleep bang on 7pm because there’s a pile of work waiting for me downstairs. I’ve been calmer, and in return they’ve thanked me by going to sleep without me having to constantly ask them to lie down or telling them to stop getting out of bed.
Ironic, I know, but it seems I’ve unknowingly been giving off an energy I wasn’t aware of, but they absolutely were. There’s still the odd hairy night where everyone is over-tired and resisting sleep, but they’re a rarity. Now I’ll happily sing Edelweiss on repeat or simply sit on the floor while they drift off. And I’m allowing myself to realise that there is actually nowhere else I’d rather be.
I’ve coined the phrase ‘mothering slower’: soaking up that particular moment of motherhood without thinking ahead to other tasks that need to be done or trying to speed through bits that need a little more care. We’re always told to make the most of these times because they go so quickly, but it always seems like one more piece of advice from strangers. It’s only when we come to the realisation ourselves that it truly resonates. And there’s no point looking back and regretting time lost or times in which we could’ve handled situations differently. The focus, instead, should be on the fun you’re going to have together in the future.
So in 2019, I’m going to be carrying on with the mothering lessons I’ve picked up in 2018. I’m going to be picking my projects wisely and making sure that I’m as productive as I can be when I’m sitting at my desk, but then leaving the work behind when I shut my office door – and leaping back into family life with gusto.
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