“It just gets harder…”

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I read a fabulous article the other day by Talya at Motherhood The Real Deal on the most annoying advice given to parents. An A-Z of sometimes hilarious, sometimes baffling, and sometimes rude advice given to various different bloggers. And reading this got me thinking about my own piece of baffling advice I received as a new parent: “It just gets harder”.

There’s me, 6 weeks or so into the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, dealing with a baby who not only doesn’t sleep at night, he doesn’t sleep during the day either, and cries pretty much constantly. No time to have a shower, no chance to drink a hot cup of tea, let alone make an actual meal; struggling with breastfeeding, and feeling more insecure than I’ve ever felt in my life. And there it comes – someone helpfully saying “It only gets harder, you know”.

I have no idea why anyone would say this to a new mum, but it wasn’t a one-off event – I heard this from 3 separate people. I’m guessing it comes from the same place as those people who tell you to ‘enjoy every minute’ of your baby, but I can understand that as looking back with rose tinted spectacles. ‘It only gets harder’ only serves to make you question what in the hell you’ve let yourself in for for the rest of your life. I’m sure each time my jaw dropped as I thought “It can’t possibly get any harder than this”. And I went home and cried.

But now I’m just over the milestone of two years as a parent, and do you know what? It doesn’t get harder. Sure, there are different challenges to face – and I’m sure there will be more to come in the future – but for me, nothing comes close to comparing to how difficult I found those first 6-7 months.

Being a first-time mum is a tough job – you’re thrown in at the deep end with no manual, no handover, no induction. You’re probably feeling pretty isolated, struggling to make new ‘mum’ friends. And you want to do your best for this perfect little being that’s come into your life, so the pressure you put on yourself is huge. But you’re struggling to get through this all in a sleep deprived haze, and everything – I mean everything – is harder when you’re walking round like a zombie.

Then there is the reality that newborn babies don’t really ‘do’ much. Sure, they’re cute, but spending all day every day with one is not the most riveting of experiences. After all, there’s only so many times you can sing ‘Row, row, row your boat’ before you question whether you’re starting to lose your mind. And although you can chat to your baby (and you will, because let’s face it, otherwise things would be pretty quiet), they’re not exactly great conversationalists.

But with every month that has passed since we hit the 6 month mark, things have got gradually easier. At the end of every month, I’ve looked back and thought ‘this is the nicest age’. With every month that passes, my little boy becomes more responsive, more interactive, more of his own little person and, for me, that’s made things so much more enjoyable.

To any new mums out there who are struggling: it doesn’t get harder, it gets better with every month that passes. Sure, the challenges are different, but that’s all part of what makes being a parent such an exciting job. And every challenge is easier to face when you’ve had a few solid hours of sleep!

What’s the most annoying piece of advice you’ve been given as a parent?

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
  • Laura @dearbearandbeany

    I had people tell me that too and I agree it doesn’t get harder, definitely easier. I think it’s because your baby gets older and more capable, more fun and hopefully more sleep! I think we as mums also get a bit more confident, we learn that we do know what’s best for our little ones. We find our feet a bit. I learn every day as a mum nearly 4 years later, but that doesn’t scare me as much as before. X #bloggerclubuk

    • I’m always amazed when other people say they were told this too! I agree, I think the confidence thing is a huge part of it too – you’re so overwhelmed with everything as a first time mum, and there is this huge pressure to ‘enjoy your baby’ and if you’re not enjoying every minute you wonder why. I’m much more laid back now, and I think it’s the kind of comment that I’d just shrug off these days and think “What a weird thing to say”, but at the time you’re all insecure and take it to heart. So pleased that you still feel it gets better even though you’re a bit further down the road!

  • I remember you getting this advice – astonishing how insensitive and awful it is to say that to a new mum. People are different, children are different – so why would anyone think their struggles would be the same as yours? I’m glad Max has made things easier on you over the years – and it’s not just you, every age is his best age! xx

    • The first time I kind of wrote it off as just weird, but it kept coming up! So strange and baffling. Glad you put up with my ranting on it! 🙂

  • Tara at After The Rain.

    Exactly this. Freya’s first nine months, while suffering with reflux, allergies and intolerances, were awful – there is no way to get away from that – but things have, if anything, got easier ever since. Thankfully no one said that to me during that time otherwise I’m not sure what I’d have done. Fab post.

    • Oh, I really feel for you. My sister’s little boy suffered with allergies (misdiagnosed as reflux) and I know she really struggled with it too. Now they have that all under control he’s a little dream! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Island Living 365

    YES! Love this, such a positive post. Who was the plonker who first said “it only gets harder” WHO? Grr. I was told the same when I was struggling with Oldest, who by the way sounds very much like your lovely one, never slept, never settled, never happy for months and months. One day when I was like a zombie after another night of no sleep, I was told “just wait till when she is a teenager, then you will know what hard is” I mean was that what I wanted to hear? No. There should be a ban on any type of unhelpful, annoying advice 🙂 #bloggerclubuk

    • Honestly, I’m so staggered that this phrase is ‘a thing’!! The first time it happened I just thought it was weird, but then it kept happening, and obviously it’s being uttered to loads of poor sleep deprived mums everywhere! It’s craziness! I accept that some babies are easier than others, but even people who had a baby who slept well, fed well etc. must have found it a difficult time – surely they can remember that and have a bit of sympathy.

  • Gemma Nuttall

    I agree Katy. I don’t think it gets harder (although we are yet to hit the teenage years!) but I do think the challenges they bring change (as you mentioned) and this then means a new challenge for ourselves. It’s all a learning curve isn’t it. Like life really. Super, thought provoking, post.xx

  • Rebecca

    Fabulous posy Katy! (And I love the photo!)
    You are SO right!! I think there are an equal number of challenges as they get older but they are different. And they are slightly easier to deal with for a number of reasons: the fact they are becoming a little personality so you feel it is all worth while – you get something back, you often have had more sleep than in the early days, and I think confidence – the longer you are a parent the more you begin to belive jn yourself and your decisions. It just completely baffles me as to why people make comments like that?! I never would! (permission to kick me if I ever do!)
    And I completely agree, every stage we keep saying is amazing!!
    Keep enjoying your gorgeous little boy!
    Fabulous post 🙂

    • I can understand the whole ‘enjoy your baby’ thing (despite wanting to wallop anyone who uttered it) – it’s a positive remark which comes from a nice place – nostalgia, a rose tint, and the fact that you’ve probably blocked a lot of the bad stuff out! But I’m still just baffled by ‘it gets harder’ – nothing positive there at all! So pleased you’re finding the same though – the more interaction and the more personality is definitely a huge factor, and yes, confidence in yourself as a parent. I don’t think a comment like that would phase me too much now – I’d laugh at it and move on!

  • Natalie @memeandharri

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said ‘the challenges are different’ so true – each age/phase brings new challenges the same as each age bring new joys! Its such a learning curve but a I honestly wouldn’t change a thing xxx

  • That is an annoying piece of advice and I’m inclined to agree with you in that it doesn’t get harder, the challenges just change but with more experience of being a parent, you do get better at dealing with the challenges. I really think the sleep deprivation stage is by far the hardest and the last thing you want to hear in the middle of it is that it only gets harder!

    • Thanks Louise – I totally get that people look back with a rose tint, and I do also accept that Max was a pretty difficult baby, but a little empathy goes a long way!

  • aw i’m not a mum but i loved that Katy! People are WEIRD when it comes to advice. I think it’s often more a reflection on their own insecurities. Before I got married i cannot TELL you how many people said “Oo, just get through that first year and you’ll be fine. The first year is hard.” Hard? It was SO much fun! Anyway, great post….and great mum! 😉

    • Haha, do you know – people said that to me after my wedding too! (Do I just inspire people to make these comments?! Or do I just hang around with a lot of doom mongers?) “The first year is the worst” – ummm, no… the first year was AMAZING! And every year since that come to think! We’re just about to hit the big 5 year mark and it’s been fab 🙂

  • mummyofboygirltwins

    I’ve given up reading ‘advice’ from sources and instead love blogs and their own, honest account of the trials and highs of parenting. It is SO different for each parent and so it’s hard to say it’ll be one way. Great piece! xx

    • Thanks Jess – I think that’s a really sound approach! Whatever your issue is, there’ll be someone out there blogging about it – and I much prefer the honest, ‘lived’ advice, than what comes out of textbooks.

  • Hi Katy, I think I blanked out all the ‘helpful’ advice I got back then, because it was everything but. As a new Mum you need support and reassurance, not some flippant comment that serves no purpose.

    I agree that things don’t get harder, they just change. Each day is a new chapter with new challenges and new knowledge.

    xx

    • Thanks Debbie – I agree, I think it’s the lack of anything positive in that statement that I find particularly puzzling. Every day is a new challenge indeed!

  • Random Musings

    Wow, some people have no tact! Even if they really believe that, it’s not something they should say to someone! The enjoy every minute I can understand, maybe they feel like they wished away some of their time and regret it
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂
    Debbie

    • Thanks Debbie – I try so hard now to watch what I say to new mums! But with hindsight, I totally understand where ‘enjoy every minute’ comes from – time goes so quickly!

  • Single Mum Speaks

    How charming to say that it just gets harder! Clearly those people have forgotten how having a newborn actually feels. To be honest, I’m starting to forget, and it was not even two years ago. Different stages bring different challenges, but I think it is so much more rewarding to have an older child who can communicate. #KCACOLS

    • Oh yes, I’m just past the two year mark and it seems like a distant memory now! Time flies, doesn’t it!

  • alice NipperAndTyke

    That’s a lovely reassuring post, and of course you’re absolutely right. I hope all those new mothers out there get to read it. 🙂
    x Alice
    #kcacols

  • DiscomBUBulated

    Yes! I remember snuggling my first newborn in my arms in a public toilet and a woman said “Oh make the most of that, it will never be as good as this again.” Another stranger decided to say to me on the beach one day “You’ll want to remember this time, it gets really hard about now” while pointing to her toddlers tearing around the beach. People now say to me (mum to a 2, 4 and 6 year old) “Oh you think this is hard? Wait until their teenagers!”. All stages are hard and easier in different ways. Some people have no tact! Great post though and you’ve obviously hit a nerve judging by the comments below! 🙂 #KCACOLS

    • Crikey – you’ve had a lot of this! It’s just such a negative attitude and only serves to big up what a fantastic parent they are for getting through the whole awful experience. I completely agree that all the stages are hard / easy in different ways – so pleased to hear that you agree with older children too!

      • DiscomBUBulated

        Definitely! In many, many ways it gets easier, the rest you deal with! 🙂

  • Babies, biscuits and booze

    This is brilliant! It’s always baffled me when people say that. Even the bloody health visitor and children’s centre who ran an ‘early days’ group thing I went to kept saying ‘just you wait until they are crawling’, ‘seriously, this is the easy bit’ to a room full of people who looked shell shocked and exhausted. Unbelievable! Good to know you’ve found it just gets better. #KCACOLS

    • Ah, the amount of times I heard ‘just wait until they’re crawling’! Honestly, once he was crawling he was so much easier because he could do more for himself and was far more easily amused! I’m staggered that you had this from the health visitor and the children’s centre – exactly the people who are meant to be supportive!

  • Love this Katy! Who on earth said that to you? Such a weird thing to say!

  • Madeline Littlejohns

    What a thing to say to a brand new mother! My children are 5 and 2, and of course there are always challenges and difficulties, but it’s definitely not harder than those first 6 weeks with my son were! x #KCACOLS

  • Jane Taylor

    What a thing to say to you! I can tell you it does get better! I have 9 year old and 13 year old daughters and they are wonderful fun and such a blessing. ‘Cherish every moment.’ #kcacols

  • I love how positive this post is! Yes I don’t think nobody should give that piece of advice to a any new mother. How insensible is that! Every single milestone brings as you said new challenges that we need to pass through. Some last longer than other ones. I also think it all depends on the child as each child is different. My eldest daughter was very demanding but finally now that she is 6 she is starting to calm down and behave much better. It is funny because my second daughter that was always much better behaved since she was born she is now reaching the terrible 2! Thanks so much for sharing this #KCACOLS. Also want to say thank you for commenting so much this week! I really appreciate it! I hope to see you again tomorrow, 🙂