At the end of every year, there are always top 10 lists for something. Recently, a friend asked me if I could write a blog about the top five or 10 things I would tell new parents. So, after reflecting on the last 12 years of parenting, here are the things I wish someone told me as a first-time mom.
#1: Ask for Help
Motherhood is the only job that anyone can do without experience. Somehow, we all figure it out as we’re going. But I wasn’t prepared for how tough the beginning would be.
I don’t remember much from the first few weeks home as a new mom, except feeling like I was riding a rollercoaster. There were highs, lows and days that felt like a blur. I remember wishing I had others to lean on during the process. I now know I did, but I was forgetting to ask for help. If I could go back, I’d whisper into my tired ear, “It’s okay to take the help. It doesn’t make you a failure or a bad mom.”
If someone offers to watch your child, let them—even if it’s just so you can nap. If you’re lucky enough to have parents who are willing and able to help, use them. To this day, my mom is my lifesaver when it comes to my kids.
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed in motherhood, especially in the first few years. But I survived, and you will, too.
#2: Mothers Know Best
Listen to others’ advice, but make your own decisions. Whatever is best for your child is ultimately your choice. There are so many differentiating opinions on how to be a great mom. If both you and your child are happy and healthy, you’re parenting right. You don’t need to be thriving, especially in those first years!
Side-note: Breastfeeding. So many people have differing advice. Just know that it’s hard. If you can do it, great! If you can’t, don’t stress over it. A healthy, fed child is all you need. MilkWorks was my “breast” friend.
#3: Date Your Partner
First-time moms need to work hard to maintain relationships—both friendships and romantic connections. If you’re raising children with your partner, it’s more important than ever to go on dates together. When you’re so busy raising a kid, it can sometimes feel like you have a roommate, not a partner. Dating allows you to reconnect and focus on each other.
When your kids are young, this can be difficult. Fortunately, any time together can be a date, even if it’s a trip to the grocery store. I’ve come to enjoy those simple, mundane trips with my spouse. It isn’t what we do, it’s who we’re with that makes the time special.
#4: Take Time for Yourself
The last thing I’d tell new parents is that once you become a mom, you are superwoman. You become an excellent juggler. You are now a chef, maid, teacher, personal driver, best friend, employee/employer and booboo kisser. You can do it all. Be proud of yourself. But also take time for yourself.
If you can only spare a minute or two, start your morning with a quick meditation to calm your mind or do something just for you. You may have just become superwoman, but you’re still only one person. Take care of yourself before taking care of others.
#5: Enjoy What You Can
It (mostly) goes by fast. The first year? No. You’ll be sleep-deprived and think hard times will never end. But now that my kids are older, I look back and wonder where the time went. How do I already have an 11-year-old and an 8-year-old? Now, I have more freedom to enjoy being a parent. My tiny humans can do more things for themselves, are fun to hang out with, and still think mom is cool…for now!
Babies & Toddlers
In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!