Some thoughts on parenting and why I won’t be having a third child

My sister has always believed that I would have a surprise third baby in my late 30s. I’m 37 now, 38 in April, so I’m pushing it to be honest. Besides, as much as I love my two existing children, I really don’t think I need another one. Not now. Not when I am only a few years from the second one leaving home.

I had a moment when Belle was about three months old that sticks in my mind. This is unusual for me, as not much generally sticks, but I made such a point of it at the time, to make sure that it did.

I was lying on the bed, at about 9pm. Belle was lying next to me, feeding. We had been in this position for about two hours. Every twenty minutes or so I would think that she was asleep, and I would slowly and carefully begin ‘the roll’ – moving myself away from her on the bed, trying not to wake her. As soon as my boob was out of sniffing distance though, she would start snuffling and squirming.

At this point I would have a choice – shove said boob back in her mouth and sigh heavily, or attempt to get further out of the room, only to suffer the wrath of Belle, in the form of piercing screams. Not exactly a win win is it? There is a particular type of exhaustion that comes with a new baby, especially a breastfed one – a feeling at times that the life is literally being sucked out of you. You know too that there is no opportunity for rest on the horizon, no period of more than an hour or two in the foreseeable future when you won’t have a small person attached to your chest.

I remember thinking to myself right then – ‘If you ever consider having another baby, think about this moment now, this moment where you feel so tired, so done – you don’t ever want to feel like this again.’

Of course there have been all manner of happy memories since then, and it was all worth it, but that promise to myself does haunt me.

It doesn’t surprise me at all then that the emotion that comes top in a survey of new mums, conducted by Nurofen for Children, is ‘tiring’. ‘Love’ came second, but tiring comes first. Fatigued, stressful, hard, chaotic and lonely also feature in the top 10.

You can see why I might have made myself that promise can’t you? It’s no bed of roses. I think what often makes it more stressful, hard and tiring is that you’re led to believe it should be a bed of roses. 20 and 13 years ago this pressure was great enough, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a new mum in an age of social media, surrounded by Pinterst boards full of snoozing babies in hand crocheted cardigans, against a backdrop of freshly baked muffins and perfectly arranged wild flowers in a mason jar.

realities of parenting

Do your children play nicely like this, under the light of your hand crafted garden bunting lamps? No? Then get out. You’ve failed.

Parenting is not like this guys. Wake up and smell the hand made potpourri in a basket fashioned from Autumn twigs.

Parenting is a slog in the early days. If you manage to get dressed, give yourself a pat on the back. Don’t feel bad because you’ve not instagrammed a picture of your baby dressed up as a mermaid, or a beautifully lit shot of your smashed avocado on sourdough toast  – just be grateful if you found chance to eat at all.

In the Nurofen for Children study, 52% of new mums said they felt a need to make a new group of friends who could relate to their parenting experiences, and I think this is the key. Don’t look at all of the other parents and compare yourself, seek out instead the ones who are parenting just like you, and take comfort in each other. Read books about the style of parenting that feels right for you, not the style that other people tell you is right.

The research goes on to say that it takes a first time mum an average of six months to feel confident as a parent, so don’t beat yourself up about it if it doesn’t come naturally at first. Don’t beat yourself up either if it does come naturally – lots of people thrive on it, and that’s fine too. You don’t have to find it hard. The key is to accept yourself.

Trust your instincts. Not Pinterest.

baby dressed as a mermaid

No. Just no.

Image credit – FamVeld/shutterstock and Patryk Kosmider/shutterstock. This post is sponsored by Nurofen for Children, however all words and opinions are my own.



  1. 1 December, 2015 / 2:08 pm


    I have a similar moment, when I was pregnant last time. i wrote it down on my blog because I wanted to remember it. It goes something like ‘if I ever mention getting pregnant again please shoot me in the face’.

    I’d still do it again though… so I’m not quite there yet ;)

    • Jo Middleton
      2 December, 2015 / 11:24 am

      Hahah! It’s amazing how our bodies and minds seem to conspire to make us forget isn’t it? I guess we’d be extinct as a species otherwise!

  2. 1 December, 2015 / 2:24 pm

    Lol, that mermaid baby is hilarious! I found new motherhood so much harder than I could have expected. So much more rewarding too. I think we could all do with being more realistic about what life with real newborns is like. We put so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves.

    • Jo Middleton
      2 December, 2015 / 11:23 am

      Yes, I agree Adele – I don’t think anything can prepare you for the intensity and the extremes of emotion, good and bad.

  3. 1 December, 2015 / 3:18 pm

    An interesting and honest post, the crochet mermaid is hilarious!

    Have a great day!

    • Jo Middleton
      2 December, 2015 / 11:22 am

      It’s awesome isn’t it? Haha! The funny thing is that I wrote the bit about the mermaid, and then this image just popped up in a random search – it was meant to be!

  4. 1 December, 2015 / 10:28 pm

    I think this is a really important thing to talk about – I struggled massively as a new mum, and it’s a big part of why I only have one child. We all have such different experiences and I think it’s important to let mums who are struggling with the tiredness know that they’re not alone.

    • Jo Middleton
      2 December, 2015 / 11:21 am

      The whole lack of sleep thing gets talked about so much that it almost feels like it’s trivialised as a result – everyone tells you about the sleepless nights, and physically having to get up IS hard, but it’s that build up of exhaustion, the emotional effects, that can feel so awful.

  5. 2 December, 2015 / 3:05 am

    I often wonder if we will have a third – some days I think yes and then other days I am hit with the reality of how hard it can be just with a 5yr old and a 9month old when they are both crying or both under the weather and I don’t seem to have enough arms to help with everything

    Laura x

    • Jo Middleton
      2 December, 2015 / 11:20 am

      That’s the key Laura – we just don’t physically have enough hands/eyes to look after three surely?! How do you get everyone across the road? I mean you’d hope mine would know how to do it by now, but I often look at parents with loads of kids and wonder how they physically keep everything/everyone together.

  6. 2 December, 2015 / 8:46 am

    Haha I think I have completely forgotten how exhausting those first few months are because I am so broody right now! The lack of sleep is so hard though and both my babies wanted to spend every minute on the boob, the benefit to that was getting to eat ALL the cake and still lose weight though ;) x

    • Jo Middleton
      2 December, 2015 / 11:18 am

      Ah yes, that’s true, I was the skinniest I’ve ever been when I was breastfeeding! And if I ate too much, I just slipped in an extra feed…

  7. 2 December, 2015 / 7:22 pm

    I definitely have a moment like that which always springs to mind when I think I could do it again! Two is enough for me x

  8. 2 December, 2015 / 10:20 pm

    My friend just had a baby today and there’s a small part of me that feels broody. But there’s a much larger part of me – with a 2.5 year old and 4 month old- that feels tired! I love my babies but I do not want to do any of it again. It’s bloody hard work!

  9. Julie C
    3 December, 2015 / 8:19 am

    . When i had my third i bottle fed from day 1,much to many peoples disappointment but it was what was right for me,us as a family, because i couldnt cope with having to do it all!

    it doesnt always get easier either,my kids are larks and are always up at 5am no matter what we try,that is equally exhausting when its relentless They are 5 and 7 and i have forgotten what its like to wake when i want to.

  10. 4 December, 2015 / 10:51 am

    I think it took about 6 months for me to feel confident as a parent also, I’m hoping it will be a little quicker this time round! We’re defo sticking at two as well as I mentally and physically cannot go through the sickness again! x

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