Things I wish I’d known when I became a mum

Real-life inside tips on what really matters

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‘Trips out were easier than I thought’

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‘I was nervous about going out and about with my twins, because it would involve public transport, or be too far away – or a nightmare if they both cried! But it gives you a boost when you do something new and all make in home in one piece. I wish I’d done it more and not been so scared of leaving my comfort zone.’

Kate Cohen, 33, mum to twins Sadie and Tom, 4

‘Tiredness, not your relationship, is the problem’

‘My husband and I would often bicker and accuse each other of being unreasonable, without realising it was actually chronic sleep deprivation that was causing the problems. The good news is that you really do come through it and there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel – I promise!’

Rachel Walton, 40, mum to Bea, 4

‘Not to over-react to the terrible twos’

‘For a long time I’d get embroiled in a battle of wills with my toddler and end up shouting – which was counter-productive and stressful for all involved. I wish I’d figured out earlier that ignoring bad behavious (exept when it was dangerous) and praising good behaviour had a much bigger impact.’

Amy Barnes, 26, mum to Cordelia, 3

‘The tiny baby stage is over in a flash’

‘Although each day can feel like an eternity, those first few months are more precious than you can imagine. I’m really enjoying the early days with my second baby, as I know how quickly they fly by.’

Zoe McDonald, 33, mum to Florrie, 6 months, and Fred, 3

‘To record more about the early days’

‘I hadn’t realised I’d forget so many details about the early days. When it came to having my second child, I couldn’t remember what had worked with sleep, teething or crying. With my second son and my daughter, I wrote it all down, along with all the hilarious things they said as toddlers.’

Jeanette George, 35, mum to Laura, 1, Harry, 5, and Leo, 6

‘I should have trusted my instincts’

‘It’s really difficult with so many parenting manuals telling you what to do, but you have to remember that authors don’t actually know your baby. When my son was a baby, I tried to force him to sleep to a schedule, which meant I’d miss all the obvious signs that he was tired or hungry – I’m more relaxed and listen to what my baby is really saying second-time around.’

Olivia Revelle, 33, mum to Elody, 6 months and Diggory, 2

‘How you give birth isn’t what really matters’

‘I was told at 36 weeks that Oscar was breech and I’d need a Caesarean if he didn’t turn. I became obsessed with getting him in the right position by doing handstands and other crazy things! At the time, having a natural birth felt like the most important thing in the world. I wish I’d known that after I had him, I really wouldn’t care how he came out, as long as I had a healthy baby!’

Sara Bowley, 33, mum to Oscar, 2

‘Not to get caught up with milestones’

‘Comparing your baby with others is a fast track to unnecesary worry and paranoia. When Ella couldn’t roll or crawl, for example, I would fret and become convinced she had developmental problems. Of course, she did everything in her own time. Same with potty training – she was over 3 before she got it when the books said girls should be ready at 2.’

Caroline Hastings, 28, mum to Ella, 4

‘Other people could be trusted with my baby’

‘In the early days, I felt anxious away from Isobel, worrying about whether she was OK, and that the person looking after her was up to the job! Of course, both were fine. I wish I’d learnt more quickly to rely on the support of relatives to look after my daughter, so I could have time off – I’ll know this for the next time!’

Susannah, 34, mum to Isobel, 2, and 39 weeks pregnant

‘That I could love my second child as much as my first’

‘It might sound strange, but when I was pregnant for the second time, I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly experience the intense love I had for Owen a second time – and wasted a lot of energy worrying about it! But, of course, the second Dylan was born, my heart expanded to make room for him and I instantly loved him every bit as much as Owen.’

Bethan Clark, 25, mum to Dylan, 4, and Owen, 7

‘That motherhood can be lonely at times’

‘Being a mum can be more isolating than you think, so it’s important to rethink the ways you connect with people – Skype, Facebook, daytime meetings with other mums and group classes are lifesavers and I’d do a lot more of it all if I had another baby.’

Becky Joseph, 28, mum to Clara, 2

‘Not to get too hung up on routine’

‘Sleep training is all very well, but having a baby asleep on yuor chest is one of life’s sweetest pleasures. I was so keen to get Theo sleeping independently I put him into a cot as soon as he started to drop off. I’m going to enjoy those cosy moments more this time!’

Helen Willis, 30, mum to Theo, 3, and 39 weeks pregnant

‘There’s no need to stress about weaning’

‘My daughter refused solids until she was 8 months old. I tried increasingly desperate ways of getting food into her, but when she was finally ready, there was no stopping her – I remember how happy she was when she first had yogurt! I’m now more relaxed about weaning my son.’

Lisa Richards, 33, mum to Ed, 3 months, and Martha 2

‘Help was there for my postnatal depression’

‘I struggled along for months wondering what was wrong with me and why I wasn’t enjoying the precious early days. Then I rang my health visitor and was finally honest about how I felt. She was amazing; she advised me to see my GP, who prescribed anti-depressants. She then saw me every couple of weeks for six months, and told me about local playgroups to get me out and about.’

Sara Wick, 37, mum to Albie, 1

‘That tricky phases will pass’

‘When you’re battling with your toddler to sleep/eat/stay in their own bed, it’s worth remembering that they’ll move on when they’re ready. All phases end and I remind myself of this each time a new phase starts!’

Francesca MConchie, 30, mum to Pablo, 2, and 37 weeks pregnant

‘Your baby will become less demanding’

‘The first six months of your first baby’s life, while wonderful, can be tough. You have to accept that there’s this little person, who frankly can do without Dad, health visitors, toys and sensory classes so long as she had you, you, you. But that all-consuming need does pass – as Millie and Alex became more independent, so did I.’

Katherine Ennis, 37, mum to Millie, 3, and Alex, 5

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