Photo by Kandice Stewart Photography
Before Little J was born, I did my research. I read up on breastfeeding and getting babies to sleep, I took classes at the hospital to teach me about bathing and diapering, and I asked other moms for advice. And I got a lot of advice. Lots of moms telling me to do things, not do things, what worked for them, and what didn’t work for them. Some of it was helpful, and some of it was not. But I had the information and that was the best way I could prepare myself.
Now I know that having two kids does not make me an expert, but I have learned a thing or two from having two babies. And if you are a new mom looking for advice, which I assume is why you are on this post, I have a few tips for you to get through those first few months with a newborn.
1. Find what works for you. Like I said, new moms always get tons of advice. Some of it is good, and some of it is bad. One thing a lot of people told me was to nap when my baby was napping. I’m sure for some people that is good advice, but I’ve never been much of a napper so napping while Little J was napping just wasn’t good advice for me. So find out which advice works for you, and forget about the rest. Everyone baby is different and every mom is different. Embrace it, and don’t worry if a piece of advice isn’t for you.
2. Don’t obsess about germs. Yes, your baby is perfect and you obviously don’t want them to get sick, but sanitizing your hands every time you touch a door handle is a little excessive. Keep your baby away from sick people and try to relax a little. I still have a hard time with this, but if your baby stays inside all day every day, their immune system won’t build up and they will end up getting sick more. So be smart, but don’t get obsessive.
3. Your husband will love you even if the house is a mess and dinner isn’t ready. Sometimes you don’t get everything done that you want to. Some days feel like they last forever and when your husband finally comes home, your house might look like an atomic bomb went off with laundry everywhere. On those days, you might have to order a pizza. And that really is no big deal. You are a mom. You are doing a super hard job, and you are rocking it. And your husband knows that. So if you have a day where you don’t get everything done on your to-do list, it’s okay. Your husband is still going to love you.
4. Ask for help if you need it. If you feel overwhelmed by staying home all day with your tiny little baby, ask for help! Ask for a friend or family member to come visit and help out. If you need someone to come over for a bit so you can pee or sit at the table and eat without holding your baby, then ask! It’s totally okay to need some help. You are new at this motherhood thing, and it isn’t something that people are pros at overnight.
5. Write things down. Dates, questions for the doctor, things you don’t want to forget. I just recently started keeping memory journals for my kids, because baby books just don’t cut it after the first year. First smile, first laugh, the day they started crawling, funny things they say or do. Write things down! Something I have learned as a mom is that your memory gets worse with each child (I hope that’s not just me!) and if I don’t write something down, it’s likely to be forgotten. So write things down, because later you will want to remember exactly how they were when they were little.
5. It’s okay to watch them while they sleep. Your baby is going to be the most adorable, beautiful, perfect little person in the whole world. So naturally, you are going to want to watch them all the time. Even now that my oldest isn’t a baby anymore, I still like to peek into his room and watch him sleep. And that’s totally okay! As a parent, that is something you get to do, so take advantage of it. There are few things cuter than a sleeping baby.
6. Always say “I love you.” I try to always tell my kids “I love you” before naps or bedtime. Even my daughter, who has no idea what that means because she is only seven-months-old. I want my kids to always know how I feel about them, and starting early is one way to get it into their little heads!
7. Enjoy nap time. And don’t feel guilty if you love nap time. Babies are incredible and you love them with all of your heart, but I think God gave us naps so that we could take little breaks throughout the day. I am lucky enough that both of my kids nap at the same time in the afternoon, and those two hours are ones I look forward to. Nap time is one of the only times in the day that you can do things without holding a baby or without being interrupted, so enjoy it while it lasts.
8. Listen to your heart. I know that sort of sounds dumb, but seriously if you think something is wrong, go check on your baby. If you don’t feel good about doing something someone has suggested, don’t do it. You know your baby better than anyone else, so you are the one who gets to make the final decision on things. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore that feeling. Listen to it.
9. Find a hobby outside of mothering. Motherhood is incredible and the best job I’ve ever had, but if you don’t have a hobby then you are going to get burned out pretty fast. Blogging is my thing that I love to do, and it helps challenge me and help me to always be learning. Of course motherhood does that too, but I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have a hobby or job or something else that you love to do. It’s good for your sanity to have something that is “your thing” and I strongly suggest figuring out what that is.
10. You aren’t a bad mom. I saw a quote recently that said “You aren’t a bad mom. You are a good mom having a bad day.” Sometimes we are going to have bad days where we just sit around and let our kids watch TV and eat snacks. That’s okay! Not every day is going to be filled with playgrounds and educational activities and building things out of blocks. Bad days happen, even to moms, and it’s important not to get hung up when they do. Just get through the day, and start the next one off better. You want what is best for your children, and that makes you a good mom, even if you have a hard day.
11. Pay attention to yourself. Be aware that postpartum depression happens to a lot of people. If you don’t enjoy doing things, if you aren’t as happy as you thought you would be with your new baby, if you don’t feel like talking to people, or you feel down for longer than two weeks, step outside your situation and realize what is happening. Get help before it gets worse. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and more people suffer from postpartum depression than you know. So pay attention to yourself, and if you think you might be struggling with PPD, get help.
12. Don’t take pictures of everything. Yes, your baby is the cutest thing in the world. But you don’t need to capture every single moment on camera. It’s way more important to be there in the moment than to take a picture of every moment. I recently realized that I don’t need to take a million pictures of my kids. I want to enjoy the moments I have with them face-to-face instead of being behind the lens of my camera or the screen of my smartphone.
13. Disconnect. I have mentioned this before, but I think social media is ruining family time. I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that Mommy and Daddy are always on their phones. So when you are with your baby, be with your baby, not half with them, half on Facebook. Social media is great for some things, and I think it’s a great way to share photos of your baby with family who live far away, but don’t get caught up in wasting time scrolling through photos and statuses of people you haven’t seen since high school. Who cares what they are doing? Your kids need you, and putting your phone in a different room while you are with them is not going to be something you regret.
14. Love your body. You just pushed a baby out of your body. Go you! Your tummy is going to be baggy and squishy, you are going to feel flabby all over, and it’s going to take time before those varicose veins go away. Jello tummies happen to every new mom. Your body is incredibly. There was a human baby inside of you for nine months! Of course your body is going to look and feel a little funny at first. But be patient, and be grateful for what your amazing body has done. Be nice to it and don’t get down on yourself. And after you get the go-ahead from your doctor, work on losing the baby weight. It will be fine.
Now that I have shared my fourteen tips, go back and read number one. Find what works for you. If one of these tips doesn’t work for you, I promise I’m not offended. You are different than me, and that’s awesome. So congratulations on being a new mommy, and good luck! It’s the best thing in the world, and you are going to love it!
Do you have any other tips for first time moms? Let me know! And if you want tips on what to do before and after baby is born, check out 25 Things to Do Before Your Baby is Born or 15 Things to Do After Your Baby is Born.