Becoming a new parent...

By Sam Villis

When Little Flea invited me to write for their blog, I was really excited but also pretty confused and scared - something about being asked to write about becoming a new parent struck the fear of God into me. It shouldn’t do, I am a new parent, and this may sound a little strange but in 9 months of pregnancy and then a good 6 months of my little one’s life, I’ve barely given it any thought. 

I guess I always knew that I wanted to have children, but in my twenties I focused all of my energy on my career. I spent all of my money on myself, on travel, eating out (a lot), and I bought lots of lovely things to fill the flat I never spent any time in because I was always working or at the pub. On top of that I read a lot of articles in Grazia about how to decide whether you’re ready to have a baby. Then one day that decision was made for me.

I found being pregnant a bit of a novelty more than anything else - getting a seat on a packed tube, people I didn’t know congratulating me, and best of all being given first dibs on office cakes. I was very lucky that I was healthy throughout, so aside from not drinking, eating brie or paté (hell at Christmas) I basically continued to live my life as normal. Just slightly slower and waddle-ier, as the third trimester kicked in.

It meant, however, that by the time that third trimester rolled around, I’d been a bit too busy living life as normal and felt ridiculously unprepared - when my maternity leave started I buzzed around the house like a demented bumblebee, cleaning, tidying, decorating. And when my newborn arrived, a monumental shift in my life occurred.

Here’s the thing, when you become a parent, you spend a couple of months doing absolutely everything 24 hours a day for a new human being who relies on you. You don’t sleep, you eat when people shove things in your mouth and you forget a lot of what went before. 

That mind which once clattered with news, twitter, fashion and frivolity on top of the stresses of work, now has only one purpose; look after this precious thing.

That's not to say that having a baby isn't completely, overwhelmingly, staggeringly wonderful; the smiles, chuckles and seeing this little creature learning and developing are so worth it - but as the months draw on, you start to remember that personality you worked so hard during your twenties to cultivate, and you need to balance that with a whole new emerging personality. That of being a parent.

With that in mind I thought I’d share a few things I’m learning which are helping me to adjust to this new life, I hope they’re useful for some other new parents out there!

Get those pictures up!
What I mean by this is, all of those knick-knacks from your holidays, photos, posters, things which mean something to you - get them out! Now you have a baby you’re going to be spending a lot more time at home, as well as having a lot more visitors. Make sure your house is full of things you love to look at; as well as lifting your spirits on a bad baby day they’ll provide a welcome alternative to baby chat when you have visitors.

One tip if you can’t afford expensive frames is washi tape, it’s beautiful, colourful, and can easily be removed - so you can change things around as often as you like! 

Washi tape £2.50 The Little things

If you do have a bit of money to splash out but want the flexibility of changing things regularly (trust me, you will) then this gorgeous frame from Ferm living is my recommendation:

Picture frame €30 Ferm Living

Embrace your new found stupidity
While shopping with a friend the other day we both needed to go up to the first floor (baby clothes) but the lift could only hold one at a time. When it was time to leave, pushchair and I went in the lift to the ground floor and waited. After a long time playing with the little one, occasionally sighing and exclaiming “Aren’t they taking a long time!” I received a text from my friend telling me that they were by the exit. Wondering how on earth they’d got past us, I suddenly realised I had gone up a floor and was waiting in entirely the wrong place.

Embrace your new found stupidity, your brain is busy with baby things, the other stuff just isn’t as important - you’re not losing it! Besides, it gives you some good stories to tell at toddler group.

Think about what you want
This isn’t where I extol the virtues of staying at home. The truth is, we all want different things, and staying at home might be the best thing for some mums. my own experience though, and they don’t tell you this, is that by about 6 months in a house with a baby, there will be a few of you who are yearning for some adult time and conversation - so returning to work might seem like a good idea.

You'll more than likely have had a break from work and some space to think about exactly what it is you want. Did you enjoy your job? Was it stressful? Do you want to go back? Do you have a choice? If you don’t have any choice, have a think about other things you want to achieve, like learning to knit, or learning guitar. Enlist the help of friends or find a local group where you can learn.

Short courses and workshops run by Clothkits. Hover over images for details.

If you are lucky enough not to have to go back or to go back part-time then sit and have a proper think. Do you want to start your own business, change career, or simply work in John Lewis? Do you want to pursue other interests like blogging, creating gorgeous cushions or flower arranging? 
At this point your confidence should be sky high - you produced a tiny human being! If you can do that, surely you can do anything? Lauren Laverne recently wrote: “You made a human! This fact will explode the boundaries of what you believed possible. Perhaps you can fly. Have you checked? “ Take this confidence and run with it - follow your dreams - or at least, follow them at nap time....

Embrace your new project
That personality you grew, cultivated, cherished. It’s still there. Only now you also have a little bubba. You’re going to bring up your child, your way. Without even thinking you will be making choices about what they read, what they watch, what they wear and, if you’re successful, this mini-person will enjoy the same kinds of things, and hold the same kinds of views as you. 

Jarvis Cocker and mini me in Metro

That’s an inevitability that as new parents we both acknowledge and deny - we somehow believe that this human will grow their own distinct personality, and of course they will, but it will be your shaping. That being said, what’s the harm in embracing that and ploughing the resources you have into really making a go of that?
You have a penchant for yellow jeans? Collect ceramic frogs? You’re a bit of a snob when it comes to music? Fine, go for it. Raise your little mini-me on a diet of frog plushies and Neu!

Where’s the harm?


Sam is a design-loving, instagram-addict and new mum to 6 month old Gene. She writes about design and vintage on her blog.!