Family

"Advice is (mostly) not useful": Four unexpected things I learned after becoming a mum

Life coach and mum Elise Clement shares her top pieces of advice.

As a certified life coach dedicated to women's wellbeing and personal evolution through motherhood, Elise Clement is committed to supporting mothers in drawing their own picture of success for this season of their life, beyond the expectations that have been placed on them.
She has a special interest in helping women feel empowered in their different roles and embrace life transitions with confidence: confidently returning to work after maternity leave, navigating the emotional rollercoaster of motherhood or stepping into a career change with more clarity.
"I never thought motherhood would be such a challenging and transformative experience for me," she says.
Keep scrolling to see some of the lessons she learnt when she became a mum.
"I never thought motherhood would be such a challenging and transformative experience for me." (Image: Supplied)

1. Advice is (mostly) not useful

As soon as I got pregnant with my daughter, I started receiving a lot of (mostly) well-meaning advice.
From close friends to the random guy I picked up a piece of furniture from one day, everyone seemed to have their opinions as to what I should and shouldn't eat, where and how I should deliver my baby, and more.
When my daughter was born, I was so desperate to find the perfect way to take care of her that I ended up overwhelmed and confused by the ton of conflicting advice coming my way: no one had THE answer I was searching for. So, I decided to experiment, to reconnect with my intuition (which I had completely buried under the pressure of being the perfect mother) and to welcome advice, selectively.
I decided that if I was going to use someone as a source of information, I'd pick a person who'd been in the trenches, so-to-speak. Someone I trusted. Then, I'd sift through the advice they'd share and find the ones my instinct told me felt good to try, in the moment. Six years down the motherhood track, this trick still works well for me!
Take other people's advice selectively. (Image: Supplied)

2. Comparison is a bad habit

Comparing ourselves to others distracts us from making progress on our own path.
This one has been a steep learning curve for me! It's far too easy these days to look at curated family pictures on social media and assume that others are doing a much better job at parenting than we are.
How many times have I observed mums at the playground and "filled in the blanks" with my imagination: assuming that their lives were more glamorous, easier, more fun…even though I had no way of knowing what really went on for them behind closed doors.
As Eleanor Roosevelt wisely said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." So, if comparison constantly gets in the way of your confidence as a mum, you can either put your blinders on for a little while, so you can tread your own path with focus and intent, or you can be more discerning with the people you look up to (refer to my previous point about welcoming advice, selectively.

3. Progress is not linear

As a newborn mum, I was always looking forward to getting out of a phase: sleepless nights, teething, nappies. But I soon discovered that progress, with parenting, is not linear.
Yes, at some point my daughter slept through the night…but then she went through the tantrums phase which was over just before she started bringing back nits from school!
Don't waste your time thinking that it's all sunshine and rainbows on the other side of that phase you're going through right now. Motherhood is a succession of phases, and we have much to learn from each of them, if we're willing to. Most of the time it's up and down, up and around, up and up and down again. Rollercoaster style. But remember: two steps forward and one step back is still progress!
"Motherhood is a succession of phases, and we have much to learn from each of them, if we're willing to." (Image: Supplied)

4. Your output will only ever be as good as your input

If you don't take care of yourself first, everyone and everything around you will suffer.
If you don't fill your cup first, you won't have anything to give to your family or to anything else you want to engage in.
Motherhood is a huge transition in the life of a woman and a challenging one most days. I remember feeling quite overwhelmed by the ambivalence I felt after stepping into this new role. Until I learned that it is a normal part of the process called matrescence, the identity shift a woman goes through as she navigates motherhood.
It's a process that literally turns a woman's world upside down: from the way she views herself, to the way she relates to others (partner, friends and family) and also the way she approaches work. Prioritising your needs and wellbeing as a mum is not a luxury: it is an absolute necessity and a way to role model a very important habit that will serve your children well as they grow.