Motherhood is hard. Social media has done so much good in how it connects women and creates a virtual community but I also feel that it’s done some harm for the new mom, too. When you’re a tired, desperate mama who spends her middle-of-the-night feeding sessions scrolling through everyone else’s highlight reels, it’s easy to compare yourself to everyone else and feel like you’re doing something wrong. Well, Mama, I’m here to tell you that you’re not. Inspired by a new mom who is very close to me, today I’m sharing some wisdom, truths, and advice for new moms from my own experience.
Breastfeeding is hard. But keep pushing through. Get some lanolin and cold packs for your bra. Get yourself on a schedule (I fed my girls every 3 hours whether they showed signs of hunger or not; if they were hungry before their “scheduled” feeding, I fed them right then and again 3 hours later). I’m a firm believer that if you can physically breastfeed you should. But I’m also a firm believer that fed is best. Feed the baby. If breastfeeding isn’t for you, that’s okay; feed the baby formula. If you’re not producing enough milk, that’s okay; feed the baby formula while you work on increasing your supply. Don’t stress. Some of the smartest, most amazing people on this earth weren’t breastfed. It can be so sad if you want to but can’t, but don’t be so hard on yourself. Your baby will turn out just fine as long as you make sure she’s fed. You’ll think about quitting often but I found if I set small, attainable goals I was able to stretch it out and stick with it.
Trial and Error. My husband and I have always described parenting as one big science experiment. Form a hypothesis and test your theory. Be sure to only introduce one variable at a time so you know what is causing the outcome. Basically, if something doesn’t work, try something different. Your baby is different than everyone else’s so keep trying until it works. It’s frustrating to find that seemingly nothing works but you’ll find your groove. Just keep trying. Even the smallest adjustments can make a big impact.
Routine is Life. Get yourself and your baby on a consistent routine. Your days will feel much shorter when you both know what to expect and what’s coming next. Your routine should be fluid and will evolve and change as you and your baby get to know each other more and more. Remember, you aren’t the only one who is new at all of this; your baby is trying to figure everything out, too.
When in Doubt, Hold the Baby. Sometimes all your little one needs is you, and that need is greater than any hunger, burp, or dirty diaper. You can’t hold her all the time, but when you can – hold the baby. You can’t spoil them when they’re that little. You literally can’t. I promise.
Get up Before Your Baby. I know, I know. You’re probably laughing
like a madwoman hysterically right now but hear me out. I fed both of my daughters between 6:30-7:30 am every morning, even if I had to wake them up to do so. Once they were finished eating, I put them back to bed. Yes, I put them back to bed just like it was still nighttime. There was no talking, no lights on, etc. Once they were back to sleep I would take a shower, put on make-up (this did wonders for my mood), and eat breakfast. Basically, I would take care of myself while they slept. Then, when they woke up again between 9:30-10:30, their day would begin. This is literally the best thing I ever did as a mom of newborns; it especially helped me when I had a newborn and 2 year old at home. Because I had already showered, I didn’t have to choose between doing that and napping when the baby napped later in the day. I can honestly say that there was not one day when I was home on maternity leave that I didn’t shower, unless I made a conscious decision not to; it’s all because I got up before my babies.
Wash Your Hair. Your scalp isn’t sore because you’ve had it up too tight all day; it’s sore because you haven’t washed your hair in a week and your follicles are clogged. Wash it now and feel better immediately.
Paper Plates. Sleep when the baby sleeps, right? Well, not when you have food to eat and dishes to wash, right? I ate off of paper plates everyday I was home alone with the baby(ies). There were no dishes to wash that way! My husband would wash our dinner dishes at night so that I didn’t have any to do and could focus on myself and the baby.
Social Media is BS. Suzy Q’s baby and your baby aren’t the same person. You and Suzy Q aren’t the same person. Plus,
there’s a good chance Suzy Q is full of crap and she’s tired and crazed, just like you. She’s probably so sleep deprived that she deliriously believes that her life and her baby are as great as she portrays them to be online. Every baby is different. Every mom is different. Stop comparing yourself and your baby to everyone else; you’re only going to make yourself even crazier than your lack of sleep is already making you. Just because Baby Boy Bo crawled when he was 5 minutes old doesn’t mean your kid is behind; it means Baby Boy Bo is a freak.
Ask For Help. Pride isn’t cute. We all know you need help. Everyone needs help. Ask for it and be specific. Do you need someone to come fold your laundry? Ask. Need someone to hold your baby while you go to the bathroom? Ask. Need someone to watch the baby while you drive around the neighborhood blasting gangster rap and drinking Starbucks just so you can feel sane for a few minutes? Ask. The people who love you want to help, they sometimes just don’t know how. Ask for help. You need it. Yes, you. It takes a village. None of us are Superwoman.
Don’t Be Afraid to Assert Yourself. You’re the mom. Is your Mom or MIL overstepping their boundaries? Tell them. Have your visitors overstayed their welcome? Thank them for coming and politely show them the door. You’re a grown woman, Mama. Advocate for yourself and your baby. You should always be respectful, of course, but now isn’t the time to worry about everyone else.
Give Yourself Grace. This is the single most important thing. You’re doing great. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll wonder why you ever became a mom. You’ll wish you could feel like your old self again. But, you’re doing a great job. We’re all just doing the best we can.
Life is so hard right now, Mama, but one day you really will look back and wonder how it all flew by so quickly. In motherhood, you don’t have to enjoy it all (and you won’t), but you should take it all in – smell your baby, record her baby noises, and snuggle that squish; your baby will be different tomorrow and so will you. The days are long but the years are short.In motherhood, you don't have to enjoy it all (and you won't), but you should take it all in. Click To Tweet