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So I’m a few weeks into being a mum of two. Life is a bit crazy (but also incredibly lovely) right now, but it is nothing like the upheaval we felt when we welcomed our first child into our lives. I truly believe that nothing, not even the best antenatal class, not even seeing your friends have babies before you, prepares you for the massive life-changing event that having your first baby is – the sleepless nights, the constant feeding, the heavy feeling of responsibility for a tiny human being. Back then, reading helped to keep me sane. So here are a few resources that might be helpful for new parents. I’m not referring to the more traditional parenting guides, but to books, blogs and newspaper columns that are reassuringly honestly about what it means to become a parent:
Sarah Turner, 2016, The Unmumsy Mum. London: Transworld Publishers. (Also see her blog The Unmumsy Mum.) I think this author as well as the following one are often misunderstood as “slummy mummies” who don’t like their kids very much and knock back the gin. However, reading their blogs and books makes it perfectly clear to me that they love their kids dearly and are deeply grateful for them – but at the same time they are simply being honest about how hard parenting can be at times (especially when you are new to the job).
Katie Kirby, 2016, Hurrah for Gin: A Book for Perfectly Imperfect Parents. London: Coronet. (Also see her blog Hurrah for Gin.) Like The Unmumsy Mum, read this and you’ll feel instantly reassured that you’re not the only one who finds it hard to be a parent sometimes. Hilarious “stick man” illustrations.
Victoria Young, Justine Roberts, Adele Parks, 2015, Things I Wish I’d Know. Women Tell the Truth about Motherhood. London: Icon Books. This is a very frank and often brutally honest (but also funny) collection of essays about becoming a mother.
Stuart Heritage, “Man with a Pram” column published in The Guardian. Funny, witty, honest observations by a (then) new dad.
Robyn Wilder, “Up with the Kids” column published on The Pool, https://www.the-pool.com/search?tag=up-with-the-kids (accessed 25 March 2018). Another frank and hilarious account of motherhood, from coping with a newborn to how to juggle life with two kids.
As I said, reading helped (well, helps!) me to keep my sanity during the early baby days. And of course another extremely lovely thing to do is reading books to your new baby. They might not be interested at such a young age, they might not even be awake. But I find there is something beautifully calming in reading to your newborn. And even a sleeping baby will love the cuddles and hearing mummy’s or daddy’s voice. Here are a few suggestions (I’m sure they would make lovely presents for new babies too):
Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, 2010, Blueberry Girl. London: Bloomsbury. A beautiful poem/prayer for a new baby girl.
Emma Dodd, 2015, Love. London: Nosy Crow. With gorgeous illustrations, this book is about the love between mummy rabbit and baby rabbit.
Oliver Jeffers, 2017, Here We Are. Notes for Living on Planet Earth. London: HarperCollins Children’s Books. A non-fiction book about our planet, for very young readers. Beautiful illustrations which will also give you lots to talk about when your baby has grown into a toddler.
Finally, a bonus recommendation which is probably worth every parent’s time, or indeed worth the time of everybody who has some kind of role to play in a young person’s life:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2017, Dear Ijeawele. A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. Glasgow: Fourth Estate. A short read on how to raise your child a feminist, originally written for the author’s friend who had recently given birth to a baby girl.
Have fun reading!