Having officially cleared the “new mom” threshold, I now have a little perspective to be able to look back at those beginning months. So let’s talk about mistakes to avoid.
I know that we’re all a little sensitive to mistakes we might be making — especially considering none of us really know what we’re doing — but these aren’t bad parenting mishaps or “what were they thinking” moments. Instead, these are mistakes that most of us make with good intentions, and we don’t even realize they’re mistakes.
1. Buying into the “Supermom” complex and not accepting help
No one can do it all — not even you — so it’s more important to just ask for the help that you need instead of piling too much onto your plate. If you’re doing everything at once, you’re not doing anything well.
2. Not taking care of yourself
You can’t help anyone else — especially your child — if you’re not healthy and happy. Spending a little time focusing on yourself — whether it’s a hobby, exercising, or just putting on a little pick-me-up makeup — can drastically improve every other aspect of your life, including parenting.
3. Not leaving the house
It’s easy to coop yourself up like a hermit during those tumultuous first months, but that just fuels a vicious cycle of isolation and a downer attitude. As difficult as it seems to shower and pack the diaper bag — just do it. Keep the diaper bag packed at all times (replenishing as you need), invest in some dry shampoo, and go get some fresh air.
4. Stressing about milestones
If you’re following those “what your baby should be doing” guidelines like a religious text, put down the book (or step away from the computer) and take a deep breath. Every baby develops at his or her own rate — faster at certain areas, slower at others — and there’s absolutely no reason to stress that Sophia was crawling at 6 months but your 9-month-old Liam is still scooting. In the scheme of life, those 3 months are a blink. Trust your pediatrician’s advice and stop stressing about the rest.
5. Stressing about everything else
When you bring a life into this world, suddenly life gets a lot scarier — from political turmoil to environmental pollution. Emotions intensify, “what ifs” buzz in our subconscious, and diseases are lurking on every surface. It’s impossible to completely stop this illogical yet compelling stress, but do your best to put everything into perspective.
6. Not documenting enough
Just keep snapping pictures, ladies. Snap, snap, snap. And I wish that I would have written more of my experiences during those fleeting first months.
7. Neglecting your relationship
Your children will eventually learn to walk away — strongly, independently — but hopefully your partner will still be there, holding your hand.
8. Not listening to your gut
Every person in your life — whether you know them or not — will be dishing out advice on everything from sleep training to parenting techniques. If something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t right for you. Listen to your mommy instinct.