Ever wish you could go back in time and tell yourself words of wisdom? This is that post for moms! 14 things I wish I had learned sooner about motherhood, written by a mom of three.
One thing I learned early on in motherhood is that everyone’s learning as they go. We’re all just kind of winging it and figuring things out along the way. Things we learn with our first kid sometimes don’t even apply to our second kid, and we have to learn how to parent all over again. There’s a reason there are about a million different parenting books out there that all say different things!
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as my kids are starting school and getting bigger, specifically about things I wish I had learned sooner about motherhood. Like I said, we’re all learning as we go, and there are a few things that if I had known sooner, life would have been a lot easier and more enjoyable!
Whether you’re a new mom, a seasoned mom, or not even a mom yet, here are 14 things I want to pass on that I wish I had learned sooner.
14 Things I Wish I Had Learned Sooner About Motherhood
1. Love and take care of your body.
It has taken me pretty much my whole life to love the body I’ve been given. And as anyone who has a baby knows, your body changes during and after pregnancy. It’s hard not to focus on the weight you gain and the stretch marks and the varicose veins. It’s hard not to get down on yourself when your body might not be the same way it was before you had kids.
But loving and taking care of your body is important. And not just because it’s the only one you get, but because the way you treat and talk about your body is an example to your kids, whether you want it to be or not. I’m so passionate about this, because I know how important and powerful it can be in our lives and our kids’ lives. I’m so much happier now that I love and take good care of my body!
2. Keep a to-do list.
As I’ve gotten further into motherhood, my memory has declined something fierce. My husband was actually telling me the other day that he’s concerned I might have a problem because my short-term memory is so bad. I’m not sure if it’s just me or if it’s just “mommy brain,” but I swear nothing would get done around here if I didn’t keep a to-do list!
Not only does it help me know what I need to do, but when I write things down I worry less about them because I know they’ll get done. You can have a daily or weekly to-do-list, or just write things down as they come up. Either way, keeping a to-do list has helped me not forget to do so many things as a mama!
3. Be present.
I guess this wasn’t really a big issue when my kids were first born, but now that social media (i.e. Instagram) is so big and easily accessible on our phones, learning to be present is so important. When I step back and look at times in my life where social media takes up a lot of my time and when I keep my phone in a completely different room, I can see how much “being present” matters.
Sometimes we can get busy or distracted and our lives happen to us. We don’t actually experience the things that happen to us. Learning from the beginning (and constantly reminding yourself) to be present and pay attention to what’s going on around you will help make motherhood a lot more fun!
4. Don’t let tasks feel like tasks.
This was something that I actually recently realized that has really changed the way I think about things like housework or changing diapers. Instead of thinking of laundry or bath time or picking up toys feel like a task we “have to do,” think of them more as things we get to do that we’ll miss later. Sure, I might not miss the smell and mess of changing diapers, but I’ll miss getting to have little moments where I can be one-on-one with my toddler.
Instead of getting weighed down with all the things you have to do every day or week, remind yourself that this is only a season of your life, and it will be over before you know it. Don’t let those tasks feel like tasks.
5. You can’t do it alone.
Motherhood is a group effort. We need each other just as much as we need food and water. Accept help and give help. Learn from other mamas. Share with other mamas. Support other mamas. We all come from different experiences and have different ways of viewing the world. That’s a beautiful thing, because together, we can come up to solutions that we wouldn’t be able to think of on our own! We need to listen to, befriend, lift up, and teach each other.
I’ve never been a super social person, but even just having a few really close friends that I talk to one-on-one has helped me see how much I need other mothers in my life. I can’t do this alone, and neither can you!
If you want to read more about this, check out this post.
6. Don’t compare yourself or your kids to others.
My best friend and I were pregnant with due dates two weeks apart. Our boys were born twelve days apart. Her son did things before mine did, and my son did things before hers. Even now, her son is a better reader and my son is a better bike-rider. Kids do things at different rates, on their own schedule, and that doesn’t make them slow or fast or on time or behind.
We also need to remember not to compare ourselves to other moms. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and that’s wonderful because we can learn from each other. It would be boring if we were all the same, so don’t ever wish you were “more like that mom” or anyone else. You’re a boss.
7. You aren’t perfect but you are perfect for your kids.
Nobody else in the entire world can take care of your child the way you do. Nobody else knows them the way you do. And nobody else loves them the way you do. You’re not always going to get it right, but you’re their mother. You know them better than anyone else and you love them more than anyone else.
You know what they need when nobody else does. You are the one they run to when they scratch their knee or want a hug or even just want a snack. Your child knows that you love them, and that’s why you’re the perfect mom for your child.
8. It’s okay to not enjoy every minute.
There’s a phrase that lots of people who are done raising kids tell young mothers that just isn’t fair. Telling a new mom to “enjoy every minute!” is not good for her mental health. You’re not going to enjoy getting barfed on or waking up a million times a night or changing poopy diapers. You’re not going to enjoy it when your child gets bigger and tells you they hate you and want to live in a different family. You’re just not.
And that’s okay! You don’t have to enjoy every minute. It’s great to try and enjoy motherhood, but if you’re not enjoying every second, that’s universal. Motherhood is dang hard and it’s definitely not all sunshine and rainbows.
9. You’re always learning something new.
One of the hardest parts about motherhood is that even if you master one part, there’s always another thing coming that you’ll have no idea what to do about. Even when we have multiple kids, they’re different and have to be parented differently, so you’re learning something new while you raise them. You might be learning how to survive on little to no sleep or how to deal with a child who gets angry super easily. We’re all struggling with something and we’re all learning something new.
10. There’s a season for everything.
This is a biggie. Unfortunately, you can’t do everything you’d like to at once. Motherhood is a 24/7 job, and while you can manage a lot of things besides motherhood, you still can’t do everything. Sometimes you have to take a step back, look at your priorities, and drop a thing or two. There will be another season in your life when you can pick it up again, and you have to be okay with that.
11. Nobody knows what they’re doing.
You can read all the parenting books you want, talk to all your friends and family, and think you are completely ready to raise a child. But as soon as you take that baby home from the hospital and realize it’s just you, your spouse, and your baby, things get real.
The good news is that even though you have no idea what you are doing, you can know without a doubt that you are a mother, and that is enough. Trust your intuition, ask for help when you need it, and love your children with all your heart. We make mistakes every day, but we keep trying and we never give up. Because we love our kids, even when they give us heart attacks by breaking open thermometers and falling out of shopping carts at the store.
12. Change your expectations.
This is one I learned recently that has seriously changed me so much. I was listening to a podcast and the girl on it said that most of the time we get frustrated, it’s not because what’s happening is frustrating us, it’s our expectations of what should be happening that are frustrating us. If we just change our expectations, motherhood gets a lot less stressful and frustrating! You might thing you’re frustrated because your toddler is throwing a tantrum, but that’s what toddlers do, so if you change your expectation and just accept that toddlers throw tantrums, then when one happens, you’ll just take it and move on!
It’s not realistic for us to think that everything’s going to run smoothly. When you have kids, things are going to get spilled, tears are going to be shed, and messes are going to be made. So if we just expect that to happen, because that’s just life, we’ll be less frustrated when they do! So simple, so powerful.
13. Relax and let go of the stress.
The same podcast (but a different episode) talked about letting go of stress in situations you can’t control. The example they gave was when you’re running late. You’re probably going to feel irritable and grumpy and might snap at your kids. But nothing you do will change the fact that your’e going to be late. But what if you let go of that stress, just accept that you’re going to be late, and try to enjoy the drive to wherever you’re going? You may not be able to change the outcome of the situation (you’re still going to be late), but you can change your attitude about it, and that makes situations we can’t control a lot easier to deal with!
14. Don’t panic about every little thing.
You know how when you have your first child and they scrape their knee and they’re bleeding and freaking out? And you start to panic because their perfect little skin is cut open and there’s blood? I’ve realized that kids look to us to see how to respond, so if we remain calm and talk gently and calmly, it really helps the way they respond to those moments, too. Another example is if they spill milk on accident all over your clean floor you just mopped. Panicking and getting upset isn’t going to make the situation any better, especially since it was just an accident!
Whether you’re a first-time pregnant mama or a third-time mama with kids in school like me, I hope this list has been helpful! I love sharing things I’ve learned so I can help other mamas make it through and enjoy motherhood. It’s such a special job and we’re so lucky to be blessed with the opportunity to raise these cute little kids!
I know I’ll add to this list the deeper into motherhood I get. I mean honestly my mom is probably still learning things now that her kids are adults! What is one thing about motherhood you wish you knew sooner?