It’s been a year since I had my sweet girl. I often find myself thinking back to those early days of motherhood. Things were quite a bit different for me back then. In fact, I was overwhelmed, exhausted, hormonal, and honestly terrified. I had just given birth to this beautiful tiny human being and I had no idea how to take care of her. How would I keep her safe and happy in this big scary world? Those thoughts and more used to keep me awake at night. (The multiple night feedings didn’t really help with my sleep either).
I know there are a lot of new mothers out there right now feeling the same way I did back then. I wish I could sit down and talk to each and every one of you. I’d love to be able to give you a hug and to let you now that you will get through this. Parenting does get easier. Unfortunately, that just isn’t possible. So, I’ve decided to pour my heart out to you here. I want to share with you everything I wish someone had told me when I was a new mom. I hope these words will fill your heart with encouragement, comfort, and wisdom. So, let’s get started. Here are 10 pieces of advice I would tell a new mom.
It’s okay to say no. Trust me, it really is. It’s okay to stand up for yourself and for your baby by voicing your opinion. People may not always like it, but that’s okay. You’re mama and what you say goes. So, if you don’t want someone to hold your baby say so. If you’re too tired to have visitors over, then say no. If you don’t want people to kiss your baby, then tell them. You are going to spend the next 18 years (at least) having people push back on your parenting decisions. There’s no better time than the present to practice standing up for yourself. It get’s easier – I promise.
Trust your instincts. You are going to get a lot of advice throughout your child’s life. It’s important to take that advice with a grain of salt. Remember, you know your baby better than anyone else. You may not always feel like it, but deep down you know exactly what to do to take care of them. You were meant to be that baby’s mama. Search your heart and you’ll find that the answers are right inside of you. Sometimes it’s hard to hear them through all of the noise. Go into a quiet room, turn down the lights, take a deep breath, and they will come. You know exactly what to do.
Forgive yourself. Moms may seem like superheroes, but at the end of the day they are only human. Unfortunately, that means you are going to make a few mistakes along the way. There will probably come a day where you yell at your child and make them cry. You might lose track of time and miss a monthly milestone picture. You might feed them a food that doesn’t settle well with their tummy. These moments will knock you down. You’ll feel like you’ve failed them. However, you’ve got to pull yourself back up again. You will make a mistake, or two, or twenty. That’s okay.
Stop comparing. I hate that we live in such a competitive society these days. Not everything has to be a competition – especially not parenting. Every child and every family is different. So, stop comparing yourself to other moms, your husband to other partners and fathers, and your baby to other children. It will only cause you unnecessary stress and unhappiness. If your baby is a late crawler compared to cousin Jane’s speed demon that’s okay. They may be a super awesome chatter box instead! Your husband may not give back massages every night like your Uncle Bob does for his wife. However, he may be an awesome listener and a great support system in that way. Every family is unique in it’s own way.
Be kind to your body. Despite what the media makes it look like, that baby weight isn’t just going to fall right off. So, don’t tear yourself apart over it. You may have a gained a few pounds, but think of what your body did to get here. You grew a baby from scratch. Your body sacrificed everything to create and grow this perfect human. Isn’t that just amazing? I think it may deserve a little bit of rest after that. So, give yourself some grace. Your hair will fall out, your boobs will get a bit saggy, and those stretch marks may never go away. This happens to every mom and it’s just a part of the process. Instead of focusing on the negative, try focusing on the positive. Your body created life and that’s pretty darn amazing.
Your marriage will be tested. Even the strongest of relationships will hit a rough patch during those early months of parenting. That’s completely normal. After all, you’re both sleep deprived, stressed, and a bit overwhelmed. You’re not able to give your relationship the attention and time that you once were. That means things will be a bit tough for a while. Those first few months are filled with ups and downs. You may watch your husband rock your baby to sleep and think to yourself I’ve never loved him more. Then, not even two days later think you might murder him when he shuts a door too loudly and wakes the baby. Things may seem hard now, but soon things will start to settle down. You’ll be able to give your relationship the attention and love it needs.
It’s okay to cry. Parenting is hard. Being a mother is hard. If anyone has ever told you otherwise, then they are a liar. There are going to be times where your baby is up every hour. You will feel like you haven’t slept for years. Despite your best swaddling, shushing, and swaying your baby will be crying. Heck, they may even cry all night. It’s okay to sit there and cry right along side them. No one ever said moms have to be perfectly put together all the time. Sometimes a good old fashioned cry is just what the doctor ordered. Let go all of that pent up frustration and stress. Let it all out. Enjoy your pity party. You deserve one!
You are not alone. Sometimes being a mom can feel so lonely. You may feel like you are the only person on the planet that has a baby that won’t breastfeed, won’t stop crying, or won’t sleep. This is especially true if you spend some time looking through social media. However, I promise you that you aren’t alone. There are thousands of women all over the planet going through the exact same thing as you. Their babies don’t sleep either – I promise. So, the next time you start to feel even the smallest bit lonely just reach out to them. Go to a mommy and me class, join a parenting Facebook group, find an online chat room. There are plenty of ways to meet new mamas. It may feel intimidating at first, but you’ll feel so much better once you do. Motherhood isn’t something you should do alone.
This too shall pass. Everything you go through in motherhood is simply a phase. Some phases are longer than others, but eventually they all pass. This is one of the most important aspects of parenting to remember. It’s what got me through the first year. Your child will eventually sleep through the night. Feeding them will get easier. They won’t always need to nap on you. It will get better. It’s also important to remember even the great phases will pass. So, be sure to soak them up. You won’t always get to hold your baby all day. Soon, they will be a rambunctious toddler who doesn’t ever want to sit still. Take in every moment to it’s fullest, because they all go by entirely too quickly.
Things won’t always go your way. I am a perfectionist, a planner, and a control freak. So, this little lesson was especially difficult for me to grasp. However, it eventually clicked for me. Babies are unpredictable. Nothing will ever go 100% according to plan with them. You may have your heart set on breastfeeding, but it might not work out. It’s okay to use formula! You might have thought they would sleep in their room from day one. However, now you’re a month in and find that cosleeping works better. That’s okay! When it comes to raising a child you must be ready to adapt. It’s okay to make plans, but be ready to change them if necessary. Refusing to stray from your plans only puts more stress on you and your baby. In a battle between wills your baby will always win.
Lastly, I just want to let you know that you are doing great. I don’t know all of you personally, but I do know that if you are here reading this that you are trying. You are trying to be the best mom for your baby. In my opinion, a mom who is trying is an amazing mom. So keep on trying mama. Keep showing up for that baby every single day. You are amazing.