My recent post questions if there ever really is a right time to have children which has led me to think about what it means to be a mum at 22.
Your life doesn’t end just because you’ve become a parent in your early 20’s. Here are 10 things that I’ve discovered since becoming a mum at 22.
1. It’s a challenge regardless of your age
Now I’m six months into motherhood I have realised that I would still find being a mum just as tough if I had waited a few more years. I don’t think anything can really prepare you for this journey, especially a few more years of “life experience.” Mums at 40 still ask just as many questions about parenting as I do at 22.
2. Your friendships will change
A lot of my friends that I had before I was pregnant are no longer part of my life. I’d always known that once you settle down and have children your friendship circles change and since becoming a mum this has definitely become a reality for me. At 22 this did come as a shock; going from socialising loads to staying in during the evenings on weekends and doing more family stuff does leave you wondering whether motherhood has come too soon. I may have lost a few friends along the way since entering motherhood but having given birth to my bestest ever friend I am reminded every day how lucky I am. Your life changes once you become a parent. Your interests, opinions even likes and dislikes change massively making it harder to maintain certain friendships. Although I keep in touch with a few close friends, for me meeting more likeminded people is what it’s about now.
3. You will give up a lot but you will gain so much more
I can no longer come and go as I please. Grabbing my bag and heading for the door would be such a treat. Now I have Arlo life is so different and every mum knows getting time for yourself is a complete luxury so of course I’ve given up a lot but I’ve been given something worth so much more.
4. Life hasn’t suddenly ended
Of course I’d still like a night out to have a few drinks and let my hair down. I’d love to be able to go to the cinema again and have a leisurely child-free meal at my favourite restaurant. I’ve realised that I can still do those things; the world doesn’t suddenly rob you of what you used to do when you become a parent, it just stalls it for a while. The night out with your friends or the date night with your partner would just take a lot more planning than it used to, but I’ll take that!
5. Your body changes
I have always been quite happy with my body but becoming a mum at 22 did leave me feeling that I had been left with a body that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with a bit too early on in life. What nonsense. Your body changes and the worst thing you can do is compare yourself to these celebrities on social media who go on about how they’ve been able to bounce straight back. I’ve now learnt to embrace my stretch marks and how my tummy now looks. I’m proud to have grown my baby inside of me and I know that even if I had waited and had a few more years of a flatter stomach there would have always have been something else I wasn’t happy with.
6. You’ll learn to budget earlier on
Becoming a parent at any age requires a lot of sacrifice but I found that once I was pregnant I made a big effort to budget and save up. If I wasn’t pregnant I’d be spending money on what most 22 year old girls do- new outfits, partying, meals out etc. but now there’s none of that. I guess having a baby at this age has forced me to be better with my finances.
7. Your career will be on hold, but not forever
Career then baby, or baby then career? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way round to do it. I have found that lots more women are choosing to have children later on and I always thought I’d get my career off to a start after university, instead I was preparing for maternity leave once I’d graduated. I know that my career will have to wait now but I guess I am still young and have plenty of time to focus on my career.
8. It’s not the older mums that tend to judge
Since becoming a young mum I have noticed that it’s not actually the older mums that judge, it’s the people without babies. It’s funny how people are so quick to judge you when they haven’t even experienced it for themselves.
9. You don’t always have to take advice from older parents who have more experience
There isn’t a rule book to parenting or a guide on how to be the perfect parent so you don’t always have to take the advice of others. Every child is different and just because someone has had more children than you or is older than you doesn’t necessarily mean that they know what’s right for your child.
10. It’s not as terrifying as you might think
I can remember being so scared of becoming a parent, especially at 22. Child birth and looking after a baby used to quite literally terrify me. Was I too young? How was I going to cope? The idea of my “maternal instinct” that people would talk about used to baffle me. But it really is true. Six months in and the majority of it has all come so natural. My advice to anyone, whatever age, is just to go with your gut and trust your instincts. You know your baby and you know what they need.
Whatever your age, you’ve got this mama!