Friday, September 11, 2015

My best advice for new (first time) moms.

I have been to a lot of baby showers recently, and one of the most common games is "advice for the new mom." Then you have to go around the circle and say a little anecdote out loud and write it down for a little keepsake book.

One of my best friends is pregnant with her first baby girl, and she asked me what my advice is. That's a hard question, because it's so loaded. It's not like there is a three step process for becoming the perfect parent. (If only there were!)

So, I have been thinking about it for a few days, and here are some of my best pieces of advice. I wrote in the title that it's for first time moms, because that's what I am. I'm sure there are some similarities when you have another baby, but I'm sure it's also very different having multiple kids!

1. Just because your husband does it differently, doesn't mean it's wrong. This was one of my favorite pieces of advice that a friend told me at one of my showers, and I will never forget it (although I need to remind myself of it often). I am a very type A person, and my husband is not. It's a great balance that works well for us, but sometimes it also causes problems. Sometimes I am tempted to just do it myself, even if I feel stressed, because I like it done my way, even though Kley could easily have done it. 

I don't want to be like that, because that's not utilizing the wonderful partner that God gave me and it's robbing Kley of his moments to be a dad. Kley does some things differently than I would do it, but that's not wrong. Kley is the type of person who would willingly jump in the mud puddle with Norah and have so much fun, while I would be nervously watching from the sidelines thinking about what a great mess that will be to clean later. Norah needs both of those personalities!

Whatever your differences are as parents, try to embrace them. It is so good for your baby to have two unique parents because they each bring their own qualities to the table. Also, rely on your husband for help. Tell him what you need from him and little things he could do to help you.

2. When someone offers to help, don't be afraid to take them up on it. Sometimes it feels shameful or embarrassing to ask for help. You see other moms who appear to recover quicker than you or who seem like they have it all together. You don't have to be supermom- that's unattainable. Just do your best, and ask others for help when you can't do it all. There's no way you can do it all right after having a baby (or even months after). Let someone watch the baby while you take a nap or shower. Let someone else do your dishes. Let someone bring you a meal. After Norah was born, we were so blessed with lots of meals and it was incredibly helpful. One friend even asked me if there were any groceries we needed her to bring, along with the meal. I originally said no, because I didn't want her to go to the trouble. She texted back and said that she was serious and to please send her a list. So, she brought me some milk, bananas, and granola bars and saved us a trip to the grocery store. It was amazing and so thoughtful. 

3. It's okay if you don't accomplish everything on your to-do list. I love to make lists, and while I know that not everyone does, I think all moms have some sort of internal to-do list that they want to accomplish that day. Sometimes you can get everything done and you feel like you deserve a huge award for your accomplishments, and sometimes you feel like you barely had 30 seconds to brush your teeth that day. It's okay and it happens. Your baby is the most important thing. Sometimes they will have a rough day and demand your full attention. 

Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop and slow down with Norah. I love to play with her, but I also love to get things done (and I don't mean to say that playing with your baby means you're doing nothing), so I have to be careful to have a healthy balance between the two. Norah certainly lets me know when she wants my attention! Some of my favorite mom moments that I have had with Norah are when I purposely chose to stop and give her my full attention. It's good to let everything fall to the wayside for a few minutes for an extra cuddle, comfort, or smile. Those are the moments I will remember forever.

4. Try not to compare. This is a hard one. It's hard not to compare yourself as a mom and to compare your baby to other babies. Comparing almost always makes you feel worse and it doesn't build you up. Sometimes people, even friends, ask questions or make statements with the best intentions that end up making you feel bad. Just try to answer as friendly as possible and then let it slide. For instance, one of the top questions people seem to ask about your baby is how they are sleeping. It's a well intentioned question, but can make you feel terrible whenever people ask if your baby is really struggling with sleeping. 

5. Find what works for you. When Norah was first born, I spent way too long reading websites and articles about motherhood. That can be a good thing, but in moderation. It took months before Norah was on any sort of schedule, and I kept reading about how to get your baby on a schedule and looking at example schedules. It eventually made me feel so awful, like I was doing something completely wrong just because my baby wasn't like this other baby online. Every mom is different and every baby is different.

Research in moderation. It's healthy to read books and investigate your questions, but in the end you have to find what works for you. Norah really struggled with sleeping at night in the beginning, and she hated to be swaddled. We tried and tried, but she never liked it, so we quit doing it. I had so many people tell me "Have you tried swaddling?" or "I bet she would love being swaddled" that I felt like screaming at them to back-off. 

If may seem like you will never get into a groove, but you will. You really will. 

6. Embrace the moment. I feel like that sounds a little cliche, but it's good advice. Sometimes you may find yourself wishing for the next stage to come because your current one is difficult or the next one seems easier. Every stage has good things and bad things. Every stage is just that- a stage. Your baby grows so fast and you will never get the stage you are in back again. Try to enjoy every one as much as you can.


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