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An open letter to every mum with a toddler

Mother has fun with her toddler daughter

Hi You!

I just wanted to let you know that you’re doing a wonderful job.

I hear you saying, but the washing’s not done and all of your little one’s vegetable purees are not organic, but you know what? None of those things matter. None!

As a woman you are most likely dealing with one of the biggest emotional and physical challenges in your life and you need to treat it as such.

Emotionally, you need to know that it is totally OK to be exhausted. The washing will wait. The time to cuddle and enjoy your children is now, even if you’re still in your pyjamas and have messy hair. Emotionally, all you need is love, so have a few cuddles and just “be” with your children and enjoy your children. Everything else can wait.

Physically, your body is still recovering and your brain may be a little screwy. But do you know what? The time will come when you enjoy the idea of exercise again and your body will be the best it has ever been, your figure will be amazing because it has done an amazing task – it’s grown a baby.

Your brain will also recover. It will one day be clear again and you won’t have to make 500 trips to the supermarket because your mind kept going blank for the one thing you actually needed. One day you will wake up and realise that it can focus on more than survival and the needs of a very demanding small person. That small person will probably be the one bringing you breakfast in bed. Focus on that for a little while!

Sleep will return. I promise. Some nights will feel like torture, and if you begin to despise your partner because they can sleep while you’re used as a milk bar, don’t worry, his time will come. Draft the contract now, while you have the advantage. Make sure it states that he will be doing the midnight teenage pick-ups and drop offs. Then keep it in a safe place, it will come in handy in about 15 years.

Be kind to yourself and don’t compare your achievements to others’. Getting out of bed after being woken three times overnight is a huge achievement. I wish they had a medal for surviving a night from hell; every new mum would get one.

Finally, please just relax. All will be OK, it may just take a few years.

As I work my way through labeling my youngest son’s school pencils I can’t help but feel empathy for my early mummy self. It was hard work, really hard work. I had three boys under four, a husband who worked long hours, too many bills to pay, and too little sleep. But I also had me — my biggest critic.

I always felt like I wasn’t doing a good enough job. Some days the boys would not get baths, didn’t have perfectly balanced meals, and got away with things they shouldn’t have. I always felt like I wasn’t doing enough, I needed to work more to help pay the bills. I needed to be successful again, not “just a mum”.

I wish I could tell myself then, what I know now, that when you answer the door to the parcel post delivery man at 2pm, still in your pyjamas, to receive the third item that week that you won on eBay (just because you needed to win at something), that is completely OK. Oh, and invest in some quality pyjamas, they will be getting a good workout.

The blur of having small people in your life will not last forever. They will grow up, go to school, and you will miss them and those days where you could stay in your pyjamas all day. Even if you wish you hadn’t.

Give your babies a cuddle, tell them how much you love them, and promise never to sell them, no matter how tempted you are. Find some joy, whatever it takes, even if it’s chocolate, or a movie, or a hot cup of tea.

You, Mum, are doing a great job.


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18 comments so far -

  1. This article came at the right time for me, too. I have a gorgeous 19 month old and an equally gorgeous 8 year old and most days I feel like a failure to both. I see these photos of tidy homes and manicured mums making school lunches with sushi rolls and fruit shaped into animals and I can barely find time to make a sandwich and throw in an apple before the toddler needs me. Dinner is the same – usually whatever I can reheat or scrape together – the laundry pile is enormous and I fear our bathrooms will just up and leave one day due to cleaning neglect.

    I just want to enjoy my children but I feel so much pressure to get everything right and nutritional and clean that I actually feel numb. If my husband didn’t cook for us some nights, we wouldn’t eat, I’m just that tired of the pressure. My toddler doesn’t sleep through either, and wakes me a couple of times, and that’s another fail to add to the list. Even the 8 year still needs us sometimes. I don’t even mind that, to be honest. I love being there for my babie. But I hate that everyone thinks it’s more important that I spend all day washing and baking than being with my kids. I feel like it’s ruining the joy if being a mum.

    So thanks.

    • Hi Laia! Thanks for your comment – I am glad to hear that this article was of help for you today.

      Life can be overwhelming especially when your kids are still so young. 19 months is a full-on age! And 8YOs have their own needs too – although very different to those of a toddler. I can imagine that you must feel pulled in many directions at once. I hope what you took from this article is that you ARE doing a good job. The very fact that you are worried about NOT doing a good job for your kids means that you are thinking of them, putting their needs as a priority. And that is good parenting itself. Also very important is to not take much away from other people’s social media feeds. I’ve heard it said that it is like comparing your ‘behind the scenes’ to their ‘highlights reel’. And baking schmaking! Ugh. You don’t have to bake to be a good mum. This tweet made me laugh this week (excuse the language):

      If you do feel overwhelmed though it is important to find some support. Chat to trusted friends, family, your partner, your GP, a volunteer on a helpline or other parents in our forum.

      Take care xx

  2. This article came at the right time. I have twin 2 yo boys and always feel like I’m doing my best and it isn’t enough. I get worked up and stressed out over it. A reminder that all Mum’s feel the same is very helpful as we doing often talk about it enough face to face. Washing doesnt have feelings so I will definitely start to spend more quality time with my two. I got up early this morning, had a shower, washed my hair, had a cup of tea, my cereal and came online to do some banking. It was meant to be that I read your article and has come at exactly the right time. Thanks for sharing and reminding us all that we are normal and it is normal and we’re doing a good job.

    • Hi mumoftwinboys!

      So happy to hear that our article had a positive impact on you! Thanks for taking the time to let us know. It is important to take a little quality time for yourself and your family. And the washing can wait. I used to always try to do ALL the washing! As in empty the washing basket but I’ve since learned that it is impossible to have everything clean – it is also not a great use of my time and my mental energy. It is good to let some things go. And it is possible to let things go – and still do a good job as a parent!

      Take care. Hope you enjoyed your morning peace – how lovely does a long shower and a quiet cup of tea sound! xx

  3. My goodness I needed to hear this today. After months of waking almost every hour during the night to a delightful little Bub who won’t sleep, to wrangling a ‘spirited’ 2yr old all day everyday, I feel like a shell of a person. Must keep reminding myself how fleeting this time really is.

    • Hi Kvb! Thanks for your message. It isn’t easy to remind yourself of this when you’re deep in it but it truly is a fleeting time. We love the mantra “this too shall pass”. Take care xx

  4. Hi,
    This is a great article. Made me feel so much better specially when I hardly have anyone telling me I doing fine as a mom to my almost 4yr old little girl. she is amazing, and i love her to bits. she says i am her best friend and then i do not need any other friend. i know she loves me unconditionally and truly.
    Thank you Robyn for making me smile and realise i am so valuable as a mom 🙂

  5. Its good to know not every mum is a super mum, my 5yr old still wakes up 2-4 times a night and is always promptly awake at 5am, hard as it is, i wouldn’t change it for anything, we have 6 kids and yes they drive me up the walls but they also always bring me back down with their smiles, giggles and cuddles. After 12 years of not having a break, my two youngest will attend school next year, and honestly i have no idea what i will do with myself!

  6. 3 times a night?? Luxury!! LOL
    my 3rd child woke every 2 hrs for 14mths… and every night till he was over 6!!
    yes there was a gap till the 4th…
    they are now 23, 22, 18, 12.. the washing still isnt done, the kitchen is still messy..
    It took 10 yrs to loose my last lot of baby weight… and I never got back to pre children weight..
    but my kids are great kids… they get on well (most of the time.. now lol)
    they are happy and engaged in life and help others.
    i am still married to their father after 29 yrs and we are all ok.
    My story will be different to others.. and that’s fine… because we are not all the same…
    and life doesn’t present us with the same deal… some have it easier, some have it harder…
    we just need to be gentle with each other.. we are all ( most of us) doing our best and we are not competing against each other..
    I wish the TV morning shows.. the magazines etc would STOP promoting those things that pit women and mothers against each other…
    we are awesome women, doing one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs in the world and we should be standing together! Kudos sisters!!! xx

  7. Another washing solution – if baby clothes are going to show stains when washed, I find the best wasy to remove them, is to dampen them, apply sard liquid, give it a quick rub before either soaking or putting in the washing machine and washing as normal. It works far better than a lot of other products. There is also no risk of grittiness as there is with soaker powders that if not dissolved properly leave a “gritty” residue on the fabric sometimes.

  8. A Doctor recommended this to my Mother. When your baby is asleep have a short nap too.
    Even if you don’t mange to go to sleep, it rests your muscles etc.
    It is OK to miss the washing – just don’t run out of clean clothes. If you have a safe sheltered area, perhaps you can hang small baby items and other things such as underwear, short tops, shorts etc on clothes airers.If it starts to rain you can pick it up and take it to a dry area or if safe inside. If you have to take them off an outside line several items are getting wet before you an retrieve them. In the hot weather you can do the same – veen put them in the shade where they can get a breeze if possible and they won’t bleach. Peg them where marks are least obvious. I know this sounds really wierd they they dry a lot quicker —hang bath towels along the sides if you have room on your line. As they dry you can reduce the number of pegs needed to keep them straight.



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