Everyone talks about the joys of parenthood and the feeling you have when you first hold your new baby. They talk about sleeping through the night, resting when the baby rests and losing baby weight and the sheer amount of love you feel. What they don’t tell you is that you will be changing your own diapers – or asking your husband to help you change them – for several days, that a lot of what was important to you before suddenly becomes secondary and that a great deal of your own expectations are laughable. As the (very proud) mother of two little girls, I learned this firsthand and I want to offer you three pieces of advice I wish someone had offered me before I had a new baby.
Seriously, childbirth – no matter what form – takes a lot out of you and caring for a new baby is time-consuming. I know you want to get the laundry finished and load the dishwasher and probably take a shower and attempt to put on a little makeup or maybe even brush your hair, but when you just want to rest; rest. You need it and your baby needs you to get some rest to be the best mom you can. As a very Type A kind of woman this was very difficult for me to learn in the moment and I wish that someone had mentioned that I should take advantage of offers of help so I could rest or let my husband take the baby to the store with him so I could get an hour’s rest.
Disregard Your Expectations
I was positive that as a new mom I’d have a perfect baby who let me get dressed and dried and made up every morning. I’d be able to keep my house spotless and my baby clean and put together and everything would be peachy. While it isn’t hard to keep my house clean with only a newborn (the husband and I are both neat freaks) I had to adjust my expectations of just about everything else. You can be a good mom, look good, have a clean house, be a master chef, a sexy wife and still have time to relax when you’re a new mom. You just can’t have all those things on the same day all the time.
You’re Not Alone
One of the most common misconceptions we have as new moms is that we are going through things that no other mom has gone through. It isn’t true. All new moms experience at least a few of the same things and talking about it with your mommy friends or making some mom friends in a support group is a great way to help you realize that you aren’t a bad mom, it does happen to everyone and it is really common. You’ll feel a lot better with that support. And hey, sometimes hearing about how someone else’s toddler heaved a book at a stranger in a restaurant and followed that up with an attempt to launch a fork in the same direction resulting in an immediate departure less than 20 minutes after arriving can make you feel better about the horrible things you think your kid is doing – not that I know anyone that could have happened to at dinner last night.