Within the first few weeks of having my daughter (now two and a very important quarter) I realised two things. One: I could never go back to my marketing 9-5. Two: my husband and I really should have discussed what sort of parents we were going to be.
We were as prepared for the birth as it is ever really possible to be (without doing the perineal massage, obvs). We’d done the classes, I had read ALL of the books and we’d discussed a lot of our immediate concerns; we knew where the baby was going to sleep, we had a name for her and we both agreed that I would be the primary carer in her first year, but we never got around to talking about our hopes and aims as parents, the parenting style that we wanted to adopt, or the sort of relationship we’d like to have with Marnie as she grows up.
In those first few months of Motherhood I found myself being far more honest about all of these issues with people I had only just met – brilliant, funny, supportive, brave, intelligent women they might have been – but I’d only known them for five minutes. Why did I find it easier to open up to the relative strangers from our NCT group than to my very own husband who had only recently been usurped as person-who-I-love-most-in-the-entire-world? I still don’t know the answer to that; other than a combination of my hormones, a huge change in circumstance and extreme tiredness on both our parts, but I knew quite early on that it could only be solved by biting the bullet and initiating some really honest, open conversation.
A lot of our frustrations came from our differing approaches to parenting. Will (my husband) was a lot more relaxed – looking back, a lot more sensible – about how much stimulation and conversation Marnie really needed at 2 weeks old, whereas I found it very difficult to put anyone else’s needs above hers. (Tip: listen to your laid-back husband and don’t leave the house for at least 6 weeks. By the time Marnie was 3 months old I’d taken her to more swimming lessons, music classes and art groups than I went to in my entire childhood and she doesn’t remember ANY of it. Not a second. Not even one tiny little bit of the Baby Sensory song).
Acknowledging these differences, talking about them honestly and without fear of reproach and realising that a lot of what we were both doing was a result of the different ways we had been parented really allowed us to develop our own, joint approach to bringing up our baby in a way we were both comfortable with.
Around the same time as this conversation, I made the huge decision to quit my job and join my mum’s incredible company, Barefoot Coaching, as Head of Marketing. Combining my experience in marketing and product development with Barefoot’s world-renowned expertise in psychology, coaching and personal development, my mum and I decided to launch a new product range that would make what we knew available to everyone: that asking great questions and having more meaningful conversations can improve your relationships!
So, two years after Marnie, the Barefoot Coaching Cards for Every Day were born. Our Coaching Cards for New Parents followed soon after; inspired by Will and I, used by us almost every day since and now available for all the other new parents out there too. The pack includes 50 brilliant questions to encourage open conversation about all the experiences – good and bad – of being a first time mum or dad. I am hugely proud of them and of the team effort that has gone into producing them.
You can view the product range at our website.
A Guest Blog from Saira Aspinall
About Saira: Saira is a #MumBoss at Barefoot Coaching, where she heads up the Comms team and all of the product development for the Barefoot Coaching Cards range. She is married with a two-year-old daughter and lives in South London. With her in-laws in Gloucestershire she has spent more happy days in the Cotswolds than almost anywhere else. Find her on Instagram.
You can get 10% off packs of Barefoot Coaching cards on their website by using the code MAMAN10.
Barefoot Coaching Cards have teamed up with CheltenhamMaman to offer an exciting new photo competition and be in with a chance of winning a pack of cards. Find out how to enter and see entries here.