By Daphne Jonas
Wow. Being a mom is amazing - and beautiful. And sometimes not so. I'm four years, and two kids, into this journey and I am still relearning that simple fact. Nowadays, there is so much pressure on moms-to-be, new moms, partners and caregivers to make it all seem easy and picture perfect. The truth is it's hard and that is part of what makes it great. I've put together 5 big guiding principles I wish I'd known before my first little bundle of joy showed up. Take from it what helps you, leave the rest behind.
1. Love yourself.
Be kind to yourself. I mean it. If your mom's group is full of women that went spinning 3 weeks postpartum and babies who sleep through the night - and you are NOWHERE near that - try to be okay with it. This is not a competition. This is your time as a new mom with this incredible new life. You are doing an awesome job. Judging yourself when you are doing something you've never done before isn't fair. And not worth the energy. Instead, grab some chocolate and your wide-awake-every hour cute baby and breathe.
2. Actually ASK FOR HELP.
I'm definitely still working on this one. It's a doozy. You have to know what you need for starters and that is really hard sometimes. Especially when your hormones are raging and you're sleep deprived. Make your list before your baby shows up! Are you kind of crazy about having a clean house? Put that on your list. Who is actually a good person for that job? Probably not the same person you're leaning on for emotional support. Spread the wealth. Keep updating the list. It may start off as cleaning the kitchen and change to taking the kiddo while you have a coffee date with your best friend and talk about Real Housewives.
3. You are not alone.
Set you and your brand new family up for success by establishing support systems and investigating resources before your baby’s big debut. Mom’s group are a real thing - and they can be really awesome. Connect with other new moms, experienced moms, people who just know a lot of moms. Just make sure you’re connecting. There are so many universal experiences of motherhood. Some can make you feel like you are king of the world - and some can make you want to just lie down and give up. But knowing that so many other strong, smart, amazing woman are going through the same thing or have gone through it and thrived can make it all more doable. Sharing it makes the whole thing more wonderful.
4. You are doing a good job.
We all do our very best at the most important job we've ever had. And every single one of us will feel at some point like we are not good at this insanely precious job. Remember though, even when you think you aren't good at it - you are. You are the best mom that little baby of yours could ever imagine. Keep going and celebrate the positives! When you are struggling - I highly recommend taking a stroller walk into a public spot - there is nothing like having strangers “ooh” and “ahh” over your baby to make you feel good.
5. Make time for you (and maybe your partner).
Motherhood is a marathon - not a sprint. Getting a breather every so often is really important. Yes, you can do it all - all the time. But if someone else takes that little nugget so you can hit the gym, or - gasp - have a date night with your partner! - you might find yourself feeling a little less maxed out. Doing something for you is good not just for you - but for your baby. You deserve to still feel like you - not just this “new mom” person you’ve recently become. Your baby will really appreciate having a mom who got a break. I promise.
You can look at the above as little life mantras during this time of transition. My hope is that knowing some of this ahead of time, or having it to turn back to as you travel this path, will help. Remember that motherhood is a truly remarkable, wonderful and epically challenging thing. Let yourself be human, take the support and help that comes your way during this time. And be okay with trusting your gut, you do you.
You’ve got this mama.