As a first time or new parent, the amount of advice from friends, family and strangers alike can at times be helpful and reassuring but can also be completely overwhelming and confusing. There are so many cliché things that you hear when you’re pregnant (for me personally, the most annoying and least helpful was the constant “make sure you get all the sleep you can now because once the baby comes, you’ll never sleep again!” UGH), but pushing that all aside, I’d like to focus on the things that ultimately would have been more helpful to know in those early days of motherhood.
You eventually WILL sleep again (and sooner than you think!)—just depends on how you prioritize sleep not just for the baby, but for the entire family. When I was pregnant and started researching all the different types of sleep methods (and there are SO.MANY.METHODS), I truly couldn’t believe how much controversy there was around baby sleep! At the end of the day, no one can deny that human beings (whether pint sized or full sized) need sleep as much as they need oxygen in order to do…pretty much everything. Do yourself a favor and figure out whatever means necessary you need to ensure that everyone in the household is getting enough sleep!
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If you are an anxious worry-wart, get ready to have your anxiety level dialed up to 11. As someone who’s dealt with anxiety for the past several years, just when you didn’t think it was possible to handle the current volume of worries that pass through your mind, BAM! You have a kid and it becomes next level. I’m talking about everything from worrying about the color, texture, size and smell of poops to the worries of milestones not being hit and constantly second guessing the parenting decisions you make. Sometimes it feels like an endless barrage of fear inducing scenarios, but there’s a bit of comfort in knowing that virtually every parent deals with their own set of worries at every stage of their child’s life. I truly never understood why my parents sometimes still treated me like I was still their little girl even though I’m well into my 30s…until I had a child of my own. I’m sorry mom and dad for not getting it until now!
Remember that you and your child are actually two different people with a range of emotions that can change minute by minute, day by day. Having a baby often feels like this tiny being is an extension of yourself—not just in the biological sense for some, but as if this person is an extra appendage you’ve grown that just happens to be on the outside of your body. But in order to retain your sense of self and also respect your child’s journey as an individual, it’s so important to remember that you are not the same person (even though in those early months it may not feel that way!) after motherhood. It’s normal for you mom to feel joy, sadness, anxiety, and a whole other host of emotions in the span of an hour, just like our kids do!
One minute you think your child is Albert Einstein and then the next, he/she pulls a Ralph Wiggum (Google if you don’t know who this classic character is!). We’ve all been there—your child is in the midst of doing something so incredibly impressive that you hurry up to whip out your phone and take a video…only to find them doing something so utterly ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh out loud. Don’t feel too bad, it happens to us all! Just enjoy the moments that cause wonder, awe and hilarity to help get you through the day!
Ask other parents that you know and trust for advice. The journeys of pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and then motherhood are filled with so many unknowns, especially if you are a first-time parent. It can be really empowering to find a tribe of other women and moms going through the same you are going through online (whether that be a forum, Facebook group, or blog), but sometimes it can get super overwhelming. After a few sleepless nights of scrolling endlessly through mommy Facebook groups, I had a desire to connect with trusted family members that were going through what I was going through. Luckily for me, several of my cousins were pregnant around the same time, so we created a small chat group for us and it was immensely helpful to be able to commiserate with people that I knew and loved who also happened to be going through what I was.
So however you need to do so, find your tribe in motherhood and use it as a resource to get you through these experiences—it’ll help you to feel less alone and as moms, that’s a feeling we all need!