Celebrating Mother's Day with parenting expert and author Emily Norris

As much as parenting is rewarding and a privilege, it can also be demanding, lonely and exhausting, says mum of three Emily Norris, whose new book promises lots of parenting hacks.

​There’s been a lot said about motherhood being hard and so many women have fears and anxieties during pregnancy and beyond; and I hope to help them with my natural optimism and love of a good hack to make motherhood easier. I do this by focusing on the everyday side of motherhood; the bit that others may see as unglamorous or boring. The cleaning, the cooking and the entertaining.

I celebrate this side of parenting in polished routine videos, cleaning videos, weaning and breastfeeding videos amongst others. I want to show that done with pride and love these moments are what makes our day to day “Mum Lives” even better; a great routine that leads to happy children, a cleaning hack that makes your home look amazing, the breastfeeding tip that saves the night-feed. It flips the everyday into the aspirational for women embarking on motherhood alongside me; and attracts brands who want to celebrate Motherhood too.

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My motherhood journey hasn’t always been plain sailing. I’d gone from being a busy marketing director to just ‘mummy’. I loved being a full-time mum to my boys, but I missed the adult interaction I’d had at work, and, as a result, my self-confidence took a knock. One thing I really enjoyed was getting tips and ideas from other mums on YouTube. Picking up simple tricks while juggling the ups and downs of motherhood saved me precious time, energy and money – they even saved my sanity on more than one occasion!

Emily Norris and her three sonsEmily Norris and her three sons
Emily Norris and her three sons

As a busy mum to three boys, I know first-hand how hectic life can be and how difficult it is to find a balance that works for you to prevent yourself from burning out. As much as parenting is rewarding and a privilege, it can also be demanding, lonely and exhausting, both mentally and physically. Taking time for yourself as a parent is crucial for several reasons; maintaining your overall wellbeing and allowing you to recharge, rejuvenate and helping you to be the best parent possible to your little ones.

Constantly focusing on the needs of your children over your own can lead to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion, it is so important to take breaks and take time for yourself to reduce stress and keep your mental and emotional health in the best shape possible. It is important not to feel selfish about taking this time either, you’re not robbing your child of your time, you are teaching them how important it is to look after yourself and setting them a positive example.

That said I have always suffered with terrible mum guilt! I've found that ‘me time’ in the form of exercising feels guilt free (as it’s for my health) and cleaning or getting jobs done while listening to my favourite podcast or audiobook – again because I’m being productive, but mums do deserve to relax and take a break. It is ridiculous that when you become a new mum things like showering somehow go from being a basic need to ‘me time’.

Some common challenges that parents face are trying to find the balance between work and home life, struggling with financial pressures, especially during this cost of living crisis. There’s sleep deprivation that can make even the smallest of jobs feel like an uphill struggle – and not to mention the struggles of trying to manage your child’s behaviour and finding the kindest ways to discipline.

Along with the overwhelming feelings of joy, love and fulfilment, you may experience self-doubt, guilt and stress. But it is important to remember that everyone has their challenges, individual circumstances are all so different and most of the time, your friends and families are there to support you and not criticise and could well be going through similar themselves. Finding time for yourself and putting habits and routines in place can make all these troubles so much more manageable.

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I decided to write my book, Things I Wish I’d Known, after spending a decade making YouTube videos (which have been viewed over 200 million times) on parenting hacks and habits to make my own life easier. It is truly the book I wish someone had given me when I became a parent 13 years ago. It’s a go-to guide of easy hacks and habits and every single one has been tried and tested on my own family. It’s packed full of honest, practical and relatable advice to create a more harmonious family life and ideas throughout on how you can fit in some much needed me time.

Being a parent is hard. It can be boring and lonely and stressful and it’s OK to say that out loud. Picking up simple tricks over the years has saved me precious time, energy and money – and now I’m so excited to pass all my hindsight and love for finding hacks on. I’m not a naturally organised person, it is something I must work on all the time, I need strategies to help keep myself on track and my book contains so many of these – if they help me, then perhaps they may help others too!

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Even if you’re not a parent, my book contains so many tips for making your day to day easier – life can be so busy nowadays and we can get so wrapped up with work that we don’t take the time to look after ourselves – I have included lots of ‘moments for you’ within the pages, things like words of affirmation, breathing exercises or even as simple as a walk or a bath – little reminders that looking after number one is the most important thing of all, because if you’re not ok, no one else will be getting the best of you. Remember what they say on a flight, put your own oxygen mask on first.

Being a mother is a great privilege and it has taught me so much about myself. I have learnt that I have more strength and resilience than I ever knew I was capable of, I’ve learnt patience, selflessness and that I am able to balance many different responsibilities of varying importance; but most of all, it’s taught me unconditional love – a profound sense of love, understanding and compassion. It’s also taught me that I could probably run a successful cafe with the amount of food I make! As much as parenting has so many varying challenges, I wouldn’t swap it for anything, it is life-changing and in the best possible way.

Things I Wish I’d Known by Emily Norris is out now (Vermillion, hardback, £16.99)

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