Ainsley isn’t quite a year old (just a month and a half to go!) but I’m already starting to think about the first year of motherhood as I plan for her first birthday party. Yes, we’re throwing a big birthday bash for our 1-year-old, yet another thing I said I would never do. (God’s teaching me a LOT about using the phrase “never”)
I’ve been making a list of the top pieces of advice I would pass along to a mom during her first year of motherhood. Here are the tidbits from others that I found helpful, and a few things I wish I could go back and tell myself.
1. It will be hard.
I didn’t want to hear this when I was pregnant, but it’s true. Motherhood is all sorts of hard, from the physical and emotional exhaustion to learning how to juggle and balance and find a new normal for you, your marriage and your new life as a family. It’s hard, but it’s the most rewarding kind of hard and I wouldn’t trade my new normal for my old life for anything.
2. Trust your momma gut.
Don’t trust Dr. Google or any advice on a mommy message board. In fact, don’t read those at all! But if you feel like something is off, trust your gut and demand answers. If your doctor doesn’t make you feel comfortable or makes you feel stupid for asking too many questions find a different doctor. Don’t be an alarmist, but realize that you know your baby better than anyone else.
3. Don’t cut your hair.
Okay, this one is a little bit on the lighter side, but it’s great advice I got from my blog-buddy Natalie. I posted a question on Instagram a few months after having Ainsley about chopping my hair, and she strongly discouraged it, enough that I decided to hold off. I’m so glad I did! If you like your long hair, give it time. You’ll eventually have time to wash, dry and style your hair. Trust me! Unless, of course, you like your hair short. Then do whatever you darn well please. 😉
4. Join a new mom group.
If at all possible, find a group of other new moms to meet with during those first few months. Since we were still living in Minneapolis, the options were plentiful. I joined a group through Amma that met for 8 weeks and was made up of all first-time moms. The nurse-led class was casual, super friendly for babies and the relationships I’ve developed with those women have continued even after the class ended. They are still the first people I go to to ask questions about our babies and their development. There’s something so comforting about having a tribe of women who are all in the hazy, messy and exhausting first few months together.
5. Don’t compare your baby to other babies.
It’s easy to start comparing your baby to other babies from the moment they enter this world. How fast they are gaining weight and how quickly they are hitting milestones and how cute they are, etc. Just don’t do it. Babies develop differently, and unless your pediatrician flags something to watch, chances are your child is doing just fine.
6. Get out often during those early weeks and months.
I had a few friends tell me that it would never be easier to get out and about than when your baby was really little. And I thought they were full of it at the time! But now that I have a squirmy little almost-toddler on my hands I know what they were talking about. When you have a very little baby that sleeps in a carseat and doesn’t require toys, food or other forms of entertainment going out to eat or to coffee with friends is SO easy, so take advantage of it as often as possible! These days taking Ainsley out to eat is a lot messier and much more work. 😉
7. Soak up each stage.
It’s not always possible to soak up the baby stage. In fact, sometimes it’s almost impossible, but as much as possible savor those moments. They are fleeting, just like the sleepless nights and extra pounds of baby weight. Before you know it, you’ll be planning a first birthday party and crying in the corner as you look back at photos of your tiny, bitty baby wondering where the last year went. (Guilty!)
8. Don’t nap when the baby naps.
Everyone told me to sleep when the baby sleeps, but you guys? The last thing I wanted to do when Ainsley was sleeping was to take a nap. I wanted to take a hot shower and blow dry my hair and get in an at-home workout or just sit mindlessly on the couch and drink a HOT cup of coffee. Although I was tired and craving sleep, I was craving time to myself even more. Maybe you’ll be the same way, too?
9. Say yes to flexible schedules.
I love a good schedule, and so does my baby. Some people may tell you that schedules are crazy and they don’t work, but I loved my Babywise book and a schedule made Ainsley predictable and easy to understand and it made our lives a whole lot less stressful this year. That said, I’m a member of a Babywise group on Facebook and I almost had to quit at one point because it was nauseating how rigid some people can be about schedules. I think that creating a schedule during those first few months really helped create the grounds for us being able to be more flexible down the road. Travel happens. Life happens. Be flexible within reason.
10. Find a form of exercise that works for you.
It’s so easy to put exercise on the back burner with a little one, and undoubtedly it takes so much more effort to get a workout in once your baby arrives. But trust me when I say that you should absolutely make time for workouts. It was critical for my mental health and getting back in shape made me a better, more active and involved mom. Chances are the workouts that worked for you pre-baby will look a little different post-baby – the key is finding something that works with your new life. When the weather is nice, Joe and I will go on runs with Ainsley in the jogging stroller, but these days I’ve traded in my gym membership for at-home workouts. Quick, easy and done in 30 minutes? Anyone can find time for that!
Anything you other mommas would add or take away from this list?