Meet Naomi Whitehouse. As a local senior teacher with 10 years’ experience, you’d think she’d have kids all wrapped up. But five weeks into new motherhood, maybe she doesn’t.
We all know that raising kids can be a real challenge for any new mum, but you might have thought that a teacher would have a headstart on parenting compared to the rest of us, right? They spend six hours every weekday immersed in kids – learning their quirks, celebrating their wins and practising some damn handy child psychology.
Naomi Whitehouse is one such person. She has taught more than 3000 South-East Queensland kids in her 10 years as a high school teacher on Brisbane’s southside, but she’s the first to admit she doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to motherhood. Naomi gave birth to her first child, baby Heath, just five weeks before she sat down with haven magazine to talk motherhood.
Beyond the expected lack of sleep, Naomi says her concerns for Heath’s health have been an unexpected challenge. The recent measles outbreak – before Heath was even old enough to be vaccinated – was a curveball. Motherhood has also presented an array of personal challenges that Naomi hasn’t had to face before.
“I didn’t expect to have so many feelings. Things that maybe wouldn’t bother me before can now feel quite overwhelming,” Naomi says. “The housework would normally take me a couple of hours and be no big deal and now I look around and think about what I’ve got to do and I can’t just do it all out at once anymore.
“Being housebound is also a bit tough because I’m social and miss the freedom of being able to leave the house whenever I want.”
If there’s one tip that Naomi has for pregnant first-time mums, it’s basically about going with the flow.
“You really do have to work out what works for you and your baby,” Naomi says. “And don’t just be a slave to your baby. You both have to have a good quality of life otherwise nobody in your household will.”
So, even with a decade of experience in kid wrangling, new mum Naomi’s observation proves that there’s no one Mothering 101 book to turn to when bub comes along. Every mum is different. Every child is different. And, combined, every situation is different. The best thing new mums can do is not put pressure on themselves to conform to any perceived perfect picture of motherhood. Put down the smartphones and Instagram feeds. There isn’t a perfect example of motherhood because noone’s perfect. As Naomi recommends, going with your gut instinct will make you a good mum. Wise words from a kid expert who has even more perspective now…
Words: Nicholas Grech