When I was a brand new mom I’ll admit that I knew pretty much nothing. I was basically floundering around, doing the best I could, feeling pretty inadequate every single day. Over time, I learned lots, to the point that I felt like a pretty decent all-around mom. One of my big wishes, though, is that I could go back in time to dispense some advice to my new-mom self; some little nuggets of wisdom that might have helped me through those tough early months.
Cherish this time.
It will be over before you know it. These early months of mother-child bonding set the tone for your future relationship. Make a point of enjoying everything about this — the late night feedings, the snuggly mornings, those first coos and smiles. I know there are lots of things about these early days that are really challenging, but believe it or not, no matter how tough things seem right now, you will someday look back upon this time with a certain fondness and even miss it.
You WILL get a good night’s sleep eventually.
Sleep deprivation was one of the toughest parts of early motherhood for me. I used to think that I knew what being tired was…but that was before I had kids. There’s a distinct difference between simply being tired and being truly sleep deprived. When you’re sleep deprived it’s tough to think about anything else. Sleep (and your lack of it) is at the forefront of your mind all the time. There’s a reason why it’s a form of torture. As much as it doesn’t feel like it right now, let me assure you that you will get a good night’s sleep eventually. I promise.
Ask for help.
I know that it’s tempting to try and be “supermom” and do everything on your own. Maybe you’ve even fallen victim to some of those parenting magazines that make you feel like you should do everything on your own. Let me be loud and clear about this one: there is no shame in asking other people for help. In fact, quite the opposite. There is strength in being able to recognize your own limitations and asking for assistance when needed.
You’re not the only one who is floundering.
I know that it seems like every other new mom you see has her act together. The truth is, they’re floundering just as much as you are. It’s easy to look at someone’s life from the outside and see only the good things. But just because that new mom at the coffee shop has perfectly coiffed hair doesn’t mean that she’s not rocking that baby and crying from exhaustion just like you are. Chances are, she’s looking at you and wondering how it is that you look so “put together” as well.
Stay true to you.
Just like you were told to not lose yourself in relationships when you were dating, the same applies to your relationship with your children. Hang on to the things that you love. Make an effort to cultivate your own life outside your role of “mommy”. Even if it’s only a few stolen moments of yoga or journaling or hiding in the bathroom for a few extra minutes with a juicy novel, make sure that you take a little bit of time regularly that’s just for you. You’re not always going to be occupied with motherhood 24/7; it’s a good idea to hang on to those parts of yourself that aren’t consumed by motherhood. You’ll appreciate this later.