So many helpful thoughts and suggestions were generously offered to me throughout the week for the “help a new mother out” sale. It pretty much reaffirmed how gracious and caring circle ME’s clientele are 🙂 It’s hard to narrow down all the wonderful advice, so as promised, I’ll share a few of the tidbits that were delightfully practical, and some that really warmed my heart (and some of them even made me cry a bit…these hormone fluctuations are going to be the death of me):
* It’s good to try to be “Super Mom,” but it’s okay (and expected) that in some areas you may fall short. Prioritize what aspects are most important to you, your husband, and your baby.
* My “advice” is to try to limit the number of parenting books you read (amen, sister) and instead find some moms you trust and ask them for help because they know you and can walk alongside you on your journey.
* The first 6 weeks are about survival: if baby is bathed, dressed and fed and mommy is bathed, dressed and fed then it was a successful day. What helped my husband and I survive? Establishing a ROUTINE! As a first time mom, I found it very difficult to read my baby’s cues — is she crying because she’s hungry? Tired? Overstimulated? Trying to figure out what my baby was telling us was easiest for me when we stuck to a routine (as this momma and I were talking, she shared that routine and “schedule” were not the same thing: routine is more the order of how you do things: feed, followed by activity, followed by sleep. If you fed Baby, then did an activity, but she then cried when you laid her down to rest when she normally would just fall asleep, you know she may need to be fed again before she sleeps. It’s not saying “Well I just fed you an hour ago and I’m not going to feed you again for another hour or two because that’s not our schedule).
* Sleep when your baby sleeps. It’s not always possible, but when the opportunity is there jump on that train fast! You don’ t realize how vital sleep is until you go 48 consecutive hours without it.
* Always pick the sling over the stroller. Baby is much happier.
* GET A DOULA!
* Don’t forget about yourself. The old saying “If Mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy” is actually true. It’s so easy to get swept up in being this beautiful little person’s mom that many forget that they also enjoy doing other things and have hobbies or work that they love. Take care of yourself too and you will be better equipped to take care of your baby.
* Cherish both the quiet nights and early mornings — they grow up so fast, and you’ll never look back and wish you hadn’t held your baby through those sleepy times.
* Breastfeeding can be tough the first 6 weeks especially! A pump will be the best investment you ever make. Pump after a feeding if possible to up your milk production and get some of that vital hind-milk!
* My best advice to you as a new parent is to never forget to give your husband lots of attention also. It’s so easy as a mom to get wrapped up in our children. Put your relationship with him first as often as possible and your children will grow up in a two-parent home with a great example of what marriage can be. By putting him first, you are creating the best future they can have.
* Be who you want your kids to become. This is ultimately our greatest challenge but also our most important task…Often we focus on WHAT we want our children to be rather than WHO we want them to be. So we spend money, time and energy making sure they will be smart, athletic, creative, etc. by fretting over music classes, sports teams and tutoring. But what really matters is WHO they are; that we are raising individuals who will be people of character, honor our earth and take care of one another. And how do they learn that? By watching us….After all, how many times do we catch ourselves thinking, “I sound just like my mother!” That’s because, indeed, children mirror the character modeled to them. So BE who you want them to BECOME. And expect to mess up and need Grace along the way 🙂
* Do not be afraid to apologize to your children when you’ve made a genuine mistake.
Reading all these words of wisdom made me even more excited (and thankfully less terrified) to embark on this journey of motherhood. It makes me wish I could hold this kid in my arms right now 🙂 I think the most comforting things to hear were that I can expect to make mistakes. On paper, and through my academic study of child development, various theories on parenting make it seem like if you “just do this, follow this, and practice this your child will be perfect.” Obviously, there’s no such thing as a perfect child or a perfect parent, so to hold yourself, your children or your husband up to unrealistic expectations can be disappointing, to say the least. All we can do for sure is love our families abundantly and unconditionally, and support other moms and dads as they make their way through the same daunting (and amazing) adventures.
What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned on your journeys through birth and parenthood?