New mum Samantha shares some of the surprises, challenges and delights of motherhood
Sydneysiders Samantha De Kauwe and partner Sam Coombes are raising their gorgeous one-year-old son Ziggy in the city’s leafy east. First-time mum Samantha takes us into her busy life, sharing how motherhood has changed her world.
How has your health and wellbeing changed since having Ziggy?
As soon as I found out I was pregnant I became very conscious of my health. After Ziggy was born, I became even more conscious of myself in a more overall sense – mentally, physically and emotionally. You want to be the best possible role model for your child so you become really aware of everything you say, do and feel in front of them. It’s actually more about how guilty you feel if you don’t behave how you want to, as you worry you’re setting a terrible example!
What has surprised you about motherhood?
How hard it is! I naively thought it would be easier, as I’ve always loved kids and have been around them for my whole life. But it’s pretty much the realest thing I’ve ever done and you just never shut off. Once you’ve given birth, it becomes the foremost thing in your life and I didn’t realise how all-encompassing it would be. But no matter how hard it is, you wouldn’t give them back for the world!
Were you one of the first of your friends to have a baby?
I didn’t have a lot of friends with kids, but then coincidentally around the time I fell pregnant, I had several girlfriends who were all pregnant too. It’s been a blessing to have friends in the same boat so we can be there for each other and just hang out when the rest of the world is working! I still have a lot of girlfriends who don’t have kids and they’ve been so supportive and are a great way to check out of the ‘mum world’ you can get sucked into.
As a young mum, what support networks have you found most helpful?
As I have a fair few girlfriends with babies, I didn’t do the mothers’ group thing – I was lucky to have my friends as my support system instead. I have met some lovely new girlfriends who are mums at Ziggy’s Montessori and Gymbaroo classes, which has been a nice surprise. Of course my mum has been invaluable to me, especially at the start when I had no idea what was going on and Sam’s mum has always been there for us too. Our extended families are really involved in our son’s life, which is great for Ziggy as well.
What’s changed now you have a family?
I’m quite a structured person who likes to plan things out and while being organised really helps when you have kids, I’m learning that my son is going to throw me quite a few curveballs so I better get used to running with it instead of getting flustered! Our family is naturally our biggest priority now, so it’s good to get perspective on what’s important and try not to get too caught up in what really doesn’t matter in the end.
Describe a typical weekend for you guys now?
We still do most of the things we would have done in the past, but obviously we have to factor a little human into the mix! So we love taking Ziggy to the beach in summer or a heated pool in winter; we stroll through the farmers’ markets for flowers and fresh brekkie. We’ll usually go for a picnic near a playground and have people over at our place after we put Ziggy to bed in the evenings.
What’s Ziggy’s favourite thing to do?
Ziggy is obsessed with animals so any kind of zoo is a hit and a petting zoo will literally blow his mind! He loves the water as well, so the beach or a pool is always a winner.
Three tips for new mums
1. Don’t be too hard on yourself – I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time so I figure all I can do is try my best.
2. Try to have some time out each week, just to get your nails or hair done, walk around the shops by yourself or read a book. It’s nice to feel like your normal self again and it’s good to recharge.
3. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be exactly like how you were before you had a baby. I really wanted to prove that I hadn’t changed and could just bounce back, but the reality is that I have changed and it’s not a bad thing.