Nothing can prepare you for motherhood. Each mother is different and each baby is different, so there can’t possibly be a manual for motherhood. However, there are a few things I wish someone had told me before I entered this wild, wonderful, beautiful world of motherhood. A sort of list to prepare me for the way my world was about to change, and change it did. Below are six things I wish someone told me before I became a mom.
Sleep when the baby sleeps . . . but that means that sometimes other things like laundry and cooking might not get done, and that’s okay. Because, if you’re sleeping when the baby is sleeping and holding, feeding, changing, or bathing the baby when it’s awake, when on earth are you getting the rest done? The urge to be SuperMom will be great, but there’s no such thing so don’t set yourself up for failure. If it doesn’t get done today, put it on the list for tomorrow. Eventually, it will get done when you have time.
You will figure out your schedule, don’t plan ahead. Whether you and your baby are together daily for maternity leave or for the long haul because you’re a stay at home mom, don’t try to force a schedule. You might think it’s good to plan, but you won’t know if your baby is a night owl or an early riser until her or she gets here. Likewise you won’t know if your baby will favor a bouncy chair over a carrier, so you won’t know how to plan your day and what you hope to accomplish in a day until your baby is actually here and you get adjusted. Remember what they say about best laid plans . . .
Find a diaper bag that has backpack straps. There are few things more frustrating than trying to balance a baby carrier or active toddler while trying to stop the strap from your diaper bag from sliding down your arm. It’s a precarious balancing act that just isn’t worth it. Many companies make very cute backpack diaper bags, and some even convert into a one strap bag. Also, if you’re a new mom like I was, your diaper bag has everything but the kitchen sink in it and it’s heavy. Wearing it as a backpack saves your poor shoulder.
Ask questions. You don’t know everything and reading the pregnancy and new mommy books only do so much. Asking other moms who have real life experience is best. Social media gives you access to hundreds of moms groups, some general and some very specific, so even if you don’t have a strong support system you do have somewhere to seek advice. Don’t be too proud to ask.
Be assertive. Your new baby will rely on you and you must advocate for him or her. If you feel something is wrong or you think the baby needs to be seen, call the doctor. You never can be too sure, and if you don’t call the worry will gnaw at you. If you are not comfortable with other people kissing, hugging, or holding your baby, speak up. We’ve all seen the articles about small babies getting sick because too many adults touched them. It’s okay to want to protect your baby from that. If you’re not comfortable taking your baby somewhere, don’t. Don’t feel obligated to go somewhere you don’t want to with your baby just because you were invited.
Get a mom tribe. Now, that’s not saying that you should stop hanging out with your friends that don’t have kids, but you will need friends with kids. Another mom will understand why there’s a spit up blob on your shirt that you missed, why you are perpetually exhausted, and why your phone conversations include “get down”, “put that down”, “get out of the kitchen”, and random crying, singing, or laughing. And it’s likely you’ll be hearing the same on the other end of the line. Other moms just get it and it’s important to have your own mom tribe.
Again, there’s no manual to motherhood and motherhood isn’t a one size fits all type of situation. These six tips are geared towards helping new moms find their way and establish their new norm. Motherhood is a crazy, whirlwind, amazing adventure. It’s truly a one of a kind experience. Don’t forget enjoy yourself!