Now that I have almost an entire year of parenting under my belt, I finally feel like I’ve earned the right to throw out advice to anyone, at any time, and at 90 mph, like an automatic ball-pitcher gone haywire. Heads up! I’m coming straight at you! After all, what better way to make mom friends than to tell them exactly how to parent, right?
Okay, obviously unsolicited advice is not what moms want to hear, and least of all when they’re new moms trying to navigate the perilous landscape of parenthood on top of being sleep-deprived, strapped onto the roof of the Hormone Express, and worried that their insides and outsides have been rearranged beyond repair. What new moms don’t need is someone telling them what to do or, worse, someone telling them that they’re doing it all wrong. What you need is love, support, encouragement, respect, validation, and, okay, maybe a few gentle nudges from someone who’s been there. (That’s me!) Oh, and you probably also need a shower.
Read on for my basic list for surviving life as a new mom.
- Call for reinforcements. Whether it’s your mom and dad, sisters and brothers, best friends, girlfriends, online friends, or friends you made while waiting in the checkout line at the baby superstore, ask for help, and then don’t forget to accept it. (I had trouble with that last part.) Say yes to anyone offering you food, babysitting, and back rubs. Don’t try to be a hero and take care of everything yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Whether this means going to a specialist to diagnose your baby’s reflux, talking to a psychiatrist about your PPD, or begging a cleaning service to deal with the biohazard zone that has become your kitchen, know that you can hire anyone to do anything (albeit for the right price).
- Don’t forget that your partner is a new parent too. While it might be tempting to play the martyr after enduring labor and delivery (on top of forty weeks of pregnancy), try not to exact revenge by insisting that your significant other change all the poopy diapers and get up for all the middle-of-the-night feedings. Be gentle with each other during these first few months while you figure out your new life. Besides, you’ve got plenty of time to make him pay :).
- Cut yourself some slack.You’re new at this–even if it’s not your first baby, it’s your first time parenting this baby–and you can’t do everything perfectly. No, really, you can’t. Best to just throw that idea out the window, where it will be in good company with your sunshine-rainbows-Enya birth plan and your lazy weekend mornings.
- Take a lot of pictures. A LOT. You may love your baby more than life itself, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to enjoy every moment of his/her infancy, or that you’ll even remember much from those early weeks, so photos and videos won’t be just your best defense against the cruel swiftness of time but also evidence of what you survived. Take hundreds thousands okay, millions of photos and videos of the good times but also of the mundane times and the times you hate and think will never end; before you know it (and sooner than you think!) you’ll want to look back and appreciate the moments through the forgiving, rose-colored filter of time, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll realize that your kid’s pterodactyl shriek of ear-peircing misery was actually kind of cute.
- Remember that everything is temporary. You WILL sleep again. You WILL go out to a movie again. You WILL have sex again. You WILL, I promise. It might take a month or a year or even a few years, but it WILL happen (if you want it to, that is), so just hang on and know that what you’re experiencing, what you’re suffering, and yes, even what you’re enjoying, will someday be replaced with something else, for better or for worse. You won’t be a new mom forever, and whether that’s a curse or a blessing is mostly up to you.
Anyone else have tips for the new moms out there?
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