Some say motherhood is not for the faint of heart. I think it doesnt matter, because whatever you are out of…whatever you need, becoming a mom will help you realize what you are actually capable of. Impatient? Perfectionist? Need a little strength? Perhaps a reminder of the important things? Feeling a little…faint hearted? Don’t worry. Motherhood will teach you are strong and growing and that YOU GOT THIS.
And I’m only a year in! Oh, the lessons and battles to come…
But for this year, these lessons have served me well (mostly post sleep deprivation days, lol).
JUST ROLL WITH IT.
This is a hard one for perfectionists. But if you’re a lazy perfectionist like me, bonus! It works out. Getting things perfect just isn’t worth it. You’ll need the flexibility of the waves themselves. The messy house, the weird nap times, the out of nowhere late bedtime on an inconvenient Tuesday. Just roll with it. I guess I just have a new, very strange list of what gets under my skin and what doesn’t. Also known as, pick your battles, or remembering that this is just one phase of life.
Caring less about the small things? Check.
DONT READ ALL THE BABY BOOKS
Just some. Once you have a general understanding of say, baby sleep patterns and needs, take a step back. And then just see what good sleep habits work for your family. James was a decent sleeper until he went through a horrible sleep regression from about 4.5-6 months. I spent precious time planning how I could “fix” what was happening. Then I realized that he might not need fixing (see: just roll with it, above). He was happy during the day and I was providing decent bedtime habits. He was likely going to go through this phase regardless, and he would stop when it was over, as quickly as it started. I remained sleep deprived for that time, but more peacefully so. I freed valuable brain space for enjoying more time with him and allowed myself to accept the night routine, even appreciate it at times (like, once). And out of nowhere, he slept again.
Whether it’s food, sleep, milestones or whatever, being an expert won’t guarantee you can solve issues or disruptions that arise. You just need to be mama, and less pressure on yourself will make you a happier one.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
You’re doing it right. You just are. Maybe not according to someone else’s standards, or by every book available, but love your baby and keep them generally healthy (lol) and boom. That’s you doing it right. Allow yourself a fleeting moment to feel proud. It can be hard to both avoid judging and being judged. But make it a priority to support yourself, and love yourself for the mama you are.
CARE FOR YOURSELF
Baby. Will. Be. Fine. But how are you? They seem so vulnerable, and our hormones make us so acutely aware of their needs, and so we stress. Over their sleep or formula or breastfeeding and weight gain and childcare and clothes and appropriate toys. Is everything good enough? And so we put our needs off because who can handle ALL of it?! Well, we can. But I’d rather not, and they’re actually preeeetty resilient.
I don’t like self-care tips that recommend activities, though. Yes I know I can go get a manicure…then ruin it with baby poop. For me it starts with mindset. I care for myself by first forgiving any mom guilt or unneccesary self-judgement.
In addition to the regular stressors, an average of 15% of women struggle with postpartum depression in the US alone. I wish that our society put more emphasis on a healing and attentive fourth trimester (at the very least) for new mothers. The baby will be fine. But the mama might need a hug!
FOLLOW BABY’S CUES
Some may call it attachment parenting. I just call it easy. Ok, so technically I am not attachment parenting…but there are some parts of that parenting style that came naturally and just made things easier! With a newborn, breastfeeding on demand, baby wearing and not attempting to sleep train, just took the guesswork out of everything for me! I let him lead the way as best I could with a loose structure. Even these days he leads his schedule pretty well, and I typically don’t fight changes.
And just like that, he was a year.
Oh, and let’s keep it real in case this is all a liiiittle optimistic some days:
Video credit: What the Flicka