My daughters are now ages 7, 9 and 12, and I am no longer in the throes of baby land and toddlerhood. I’ve come out on the other side of it all and I can now look back at it through a different lens than what I had when I was wrapped up in the tornado of parenting babies and young kids. Here is the advice I wish I was given (and listened to) back then…
1. Find your tribe. This is advice that is often given to bloggers. It means to find a group of other bloggers who write about similar topics and who will support you by sharing your posts, having your back when commenters get nasty, and helping you out of a writing funk. Moms need a tribe, too. Find a group of other moms who are going through what you are going through; who can laugh with you and cry with you; who will have your back and help you out of a down time.
2. Develop a support network. This is different from your tribe, although they may cross over some. Your support network are the people you turn to in a pinch. The people who will come to your rescue when your husband is out of town and you haven’t showered in two days. The people who you can call to stay with the toddler while you take the baby to the doctor because you were up all night and just can’t handle the toddler in the waiting room, too. They are the people who will ALWAYS be there when you say “Help!” It may be friends, family, or even colleagues.
3. Ask for help. All moms are superwomen, but we are not super human. When you are sleep deprived, overwhelmed, and don’t think you can make it another minute, reach out. Ask for a sitter just so you can take a nap. Call Dominos and don’t feel guilty. Hire a cleaning service. When you are about to crack, let someone else share the load.
4. Find a way to feed your soul. Do you love to run or go to the gym? Maybe you like to sew or write. It’s hard, I know, but carve out the time to do it. (See #2 and #3) Figure out what pieces of the “before mom” you are most important and hold on to it at all costs.
5. Breathe. I used to pass out when I got a shot until a nurse once reminded me that I had to breathe. As moms, we hold our proverbial breath waiting for the crying to stop, the first step to be taken, or just for the day to finally be over. We lose our temper and, it feels like, our sanity. In those moments, just breathe. Close your eyes and breathe.
6. Remember that “this too shall pass.” As you breathe, repeat this mantra to yourself. With kids who are a little older now, I can promise you with certainty that it will pass. The breastfeeding that feels like you’re chained to this little human; the incessant crying as those first teeth come in; the terrible two’s and the tumultuous threes – all of it will pass and you will survive.
7. Cut yourself some slack. Nobody is perfect and we are no exception to that rule just because we are moms. You will screw up. You will forget the diaper bag or at least the diapers. You will miss an appointment. You won’t get a shower every day and you will not always prepare healthy meals for your family. You won’t always be a good wife or a good mom. It’s okay. Your family will still think you are the best mom/wife in the whole wide world because you are absolutely the best mom/wife in the whole wide world for them – even at your worst.
8. Accept affirmations. Do you have a tendency to deflect compliments? I do. When I would complain that I felt like a gerbil on a wheel who accomplished nothing of significance on a daily basis, my wonderful husband would point to out girls and say “Yes you did. You accomplished that. You gave them life and you cared for them today. There is no greater accomplishment than that.” He was right.
9. Watch them sleep. At the end of the day, no matter how hard it has been or how tired you are, go in quietly and just watch them sleep. Soak in their little hands and their round cheeks. Follow the rhythm of their breathing. You will be utterly convinced that they are angels here on earth and all the stress will melt away.
10. Trust your gut. At the end of the day, you don’t have to listen to me or anyone else who gives you nuggets of unsolicited advice. You are the best mom that your child(ren) could possibly have and nobody can love them like you do. Trust your instincts and everything will work out just fine.
What have you picked up along the way?
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