There are some moms who just kind of “get it.” They they were born to be mothers… such naturals… like they just woke up one morning and were suddenly transformed into these wonderful motherly beings.
I wasn’t one of those moms. I didn’t know much about babies, but I was eager to learn. In those early challenging newborn days, I pored over every book, website, forum, or even Instagram thread that I could get my hands on. I wanted to know: “What do her cries mean,” “How often should I be feeding her,” “Has anyone ever died from sleep deprivation?” I wanted to know about every sleep method under the sun, and about how I could be a super over-achiever mom.
A lot of times the pressure (mostly self-induced) was overwhelming and there were definitely some tears, but lately I am able to look back at that time with some experience under my belt and I know I will be approaching it much differently the next time around. I wanted to share some “non-advice” (more like encouragement) for those of you who are going through the “New Mom Stage” right now. It’s a tough one to navigate, but I promise you will get through it!
Consider this some “non-advice” (aka, encouraging words) during those early days as a new mom:
1. Use those books as reference only. I cannot tell you how many nights I spent lying awake worrying about some thing or another that I had read in a baby book. Baby books are great and definitely serve a purpose, but try to take them with a grain of salt. Use them as reference when you really need information, but try not to get to hung up or stressed out over them.
2. Surround yourself with encouraging people. I cannot overstate the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will love and encourage you. During those early days as a mother you will need all the encouragement you can get, so surround yourself with wonderful cheerleaders!
3. Be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the foundation for your future as a parent won’t be either. Give yourself grace and realize that you’re going to make some missteps or feel totally clueless sometimes. You’ll get there…just try to be patient as you gain your on-the-job training.
4. Ask for help. As a new mother, I know how tempting it can be to want to take everything into your own hands and prove that you have it all under control, but never hesitate to ask for help. Those encouraging friends and family who you have surrounded yourself with? They won’t judge you for asking them to hold the baby while you shower or if you request that they grab you take-out after a particularly stressful day. It takes a village.
5. Just do you. Be the best parent YOU can be. Don’t look at other parents and the way they do it, because they are different people than you and they have different children than you. Tap into your parenting instincts (I promise they’re in there!) and make decisions based on what feels right for you and your family.
6. Take time for yourself. We all need breaks sometimes and there is nothing that will recharge you quite like having a little time to yourself. It doesn’t have to be long – it can even just be a matter of a quiet shower, or a quick cup of coffee by yourself. But stepping back for a moment will help you feel recharged and ready to approach parenting with a fresh energy.
7. Don’t feel guilty. There are a million things to worry about and feel guilty over, but just don’t. Even though it may look like your best friend or neighbor is doing this parenting thing perfectly, they probably have their own hang-ups and worries too. Just do your best and you will do great.
8. Know that sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. There will be days when you feel so completely overwhelmed that you don’t even know where to begin, but that’s normal. There will be hard days and there will be good days. Sometimes there will even be hard months. But, keep on trucking…there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
9. Focus on the good. Take the time to remember the good moments you have with your child – especially during those challenging stages. This can be something as simple as just mentally taking account for these things or it can be physically writing them down. There really is something wonderful about taking the time to count your blessings.
10. Remember that we all have our strengths. While you may feel inadequate in certain arenas of parenting (i.e. sleep, feeding, etc.), I guarantee you that there is another mama somewhere who is feeling inadequate in an area that you excel in. We all have our strengths, so try not to compare yourself too much. You will get through this and it will be so worth it!