What to do with advice

When I was a new mum, there was a lot of ‘free advice’ going around. I didn’t mind – I listened to it all and tried to make some sense of it for me.

A common theme from early childhood professionals was that it can be a bit of a nightmare trying to prepare the evening meal, especially if the baby is unsettled, and the house has an ‘end of the day chaos’ vibe. The general advice was that it’s not a failure to get takeaway or just have egg on toast for dinner. 

My plan

So, I went home from hospital feeling pretty much like the big challenge each day would be getting dinner on the table. I don’t mind a challenge, and I tackled this one head-on. First thing on my to do list every day was ‘start dinner’. I’m not kidding. Straight after breakfast, while the baby was fresh and happy, or down for a morning sleep, I would be peeling and cutting vegetables and doing basic dinner prep. I didn’t care whatever else didn’t get done during the day, I was determined that dinner would be on the table! And mostly it worked. I don’t remember ever regretting the fact, come 5 o’clock, that the evening meal was sorted and ready to be cooked!

Work to your strengths

One of my strengths is being organised, so I built on that strength. This gave me a sense of calmness to face the day because, whatever else went wrong on any day, I knew I had dinner!  Mostly. Sometimes I didn’t, but I had a plan B. Plan B was to remember the advice that had followed me home from hospital – takeaway is not a failure!

Sometimes advice can motivate us, sometimes it frees us, and sometimes it brings us down. Diversity is one of the great characteristics of humanity and what works for one mum or one family, will not be right for another. Our circumstances and our personality all affect what works well for us. The secret is to make choices about the advice we receive and work to our strengths.

Fellow mum advice

Recently, I asked some mum friends what advice had worked well for them and what advice they would pass on to other mums. These are some of the responses:

  • Don’t ignore advice from your mother!
  • Don’t try to be super mum!  
  • Housework can wait.
  • Enjoy your kids at every age – don’t pine for what has gone or be impatient for what will come.
  • Be confident that they’ll grow up to be wonderful adults and you will enjoy their company.
  • Be consistent, no matter how tired you are. 
  • Whatever difficulties you are going through with your children, remember that it is just a stage – and it will pass.

What advice have you found helpful as a mum?

Lexia Smallwood


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