Dani Dyer on motherhood, mental health, and why she's become an ambassador for Tiny Happy People, the BBC's early years language and communication initiative…
What do you love most about being a mama?
I love the unconditional love that you have for your child. Every day Santi does something new for me. I’m really enjoying this age, he’s just one now and we’re starting to see his personality. It makes me so happy. It’s the hardest job but the best job in the world. There’s no love like it, I’m so proud of him and I love being a mum.
You’ve spoken about how you found the first year of motherhood a little bit lonely sometimes. Do you think the pandemic changed your experience of being a new mum?
Now I’m able to go to baby groups, I absolutely love them, I’ve met some amazing mums there. I feel like we all have a bond and it’s had a positive impact on me and the baby. Sometimes you’ve had a rough night and there’s someone there in the same shoes as you. It makes you think ‘I’m so glad I’m not in this alone’! Parenthood can be lonely. It’s weird for me now when I go out and see mums with newborns, I think I never got to do that because we were in the middle of the pandemic. I feel like that was hard because when I was in the newborn bubble I wasn’t able to have visitors, I didn’t have someone walking in and saying are you alright? I think that was sometimes a little bit harder but, because I was in that bubble, I just got on with it. I’m looking forward to having a newborn out of a pandemic! Because you do struggle with the baby blues and it’s such an adjustment. Now, I’ve adjusted so well to it and it’s great to be able to go out and do normal things. I think it’s so important to keep your social life as much as possible. Just because you’ve had a baby, it doesn’t define you, you should always still be you.
Do you think motherhood has changed you?
Absolutely, motherhood has changed me for the better. I know my priorities now and you’ve got more responsibility when you’re not just looking after yourself but looking after a little one as well. I definitely think it’s put my head on my shoulders a bit more.
How have you navigated solo parenting? Has it been important to have a good support network?
You always need a support network, whether it’s friends or family, it’s so important. You go through such a rush of hormones and the feelings you get are such a roller coaster. Having people there for you is really important. BBC Tiny Happy People has been really useful because there’s so much information on there for all ages. The milestones which babies reach from 0 to 12 months are so incredible, so it’s nice to be able to go on to the Tiny Happy People website and read about child development and the little activities that I can do at home with Santi, it’s so beneficial.
How do you juggle everything and make time for yourself?
With the help of my mum! I feel like at the beginning it’s so hard to juggle, I don’t even think I could put a dinner in the oven but you adjust to it. During the day, I’m always on the go and there’s always something going on but at night-time, once Santi goes to bed, it’s my time to have my dinner and watch Bridgerton. Some days are harder than others. I’m really lucky with my job that sometimes it’s really busy, but sometimes I can be at home for weeks on end. It’s juggling but I quite like being busy.
What have you found most surprising about motherhood?
I read some books when I was pregnant but without really taking on board all the different changes babies go through. I think what’s most surprising is how much change they go through and once you’ve got one thing, then another thing crops up. If it isn’t the whole newborn phase, then it’s weaning and then crawling, talking, walking, there’s so much. There’s always a new change. With Tiny Happy People, there’s loads of information about child development. It’s so important to interact with the child. With Santi, I chat to him all day long and now I feel like he’s started to pick up some words, which I absolutely love. At first I thought ‘should I be singing all these songs?’ but the experts on Tiny Happy People say how repetition and singing songs to your baby are so important. I play a game with him called Pots, Pans and Bangs (banging pots and pans to make music) and Santi loves to dance.
What are the best bits and worst bits about parenthood?
The worst bit is sleep deprivation! When you’ve not slept and you’ve been up all night, how do you function? The best bit is watching him grow and learn new things. Now Santi’s trying to walk, that’s the best thing. They make you laugh. He’s like a little best friend. Although apparently I pamper him a bit too much!
And finally, any advice for other new mums?
To enjoy every minute of it. Some days are going to be harder than others, especially in the newborn bubble. We all struggle because there are so many different emotions that we go through, there’s so much pressure but there’s no such thing as being a perfect mum, we’re all doing our own thing. I’d also recommend going on to the Tiny Happy People website to get as much information as you can, right from pregnancy, I feel like I definitely should have done that a little bit more. Always chat to your baby, it’s so important to communicate with them in those early years and to have fun with them.
Dani Dyer is an ambassador for BBC Tiny Happy People: bbc.co.uk/tiny-happy-people @bbctinyhappypeople
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