When I was a new mom, I wanted to be perfect. I read all the right books, kept the house clean, the baby bathed and nutritious meals on the table.
We had play dates, took “field trips” and I planned out crafts to do constantly.
I laugh, looking back, because there are things I wish I knew as a new mom that no one ever told me.
But I was going to ROCK this mama thing!
I gave it my heart and my soul.
And I stressed myself out.
Meals came around way too fast. And somedays I just wanted to sit down! But the garden needed tending to and the weeds in the flower bed multiplied daily!
Life with my first three was crazy and hectic. It was hard to keep up. That perfect mama status wasn’t just handed out on a platter, after all. It had to be earned. And it was hard work.
I loved my kids more than I could have ever imagined.
I wanted their world to be perfect. I wanted them to have everything I didn’t have, to be everything I never was.
And I wanted to pour my love out on them. That love was so overwhelming that I was willing to do anything and be anything for them.
So I strived for perfection in every way.
And then my last three came along.
And my perfect world shattered in three sweet little heart beats.
It was total chaos and I was literally in survival mode. My only goal was to make it through the day and to neglect my three big boys as little as possible.
I didn’t shower, eat or sleep. The house was a disaster, meals were cold and half-cooked and there were days I totally forgot I even had big boys.
But in all of that chaos I learned a very valuable lesson:
My boys didn’t need perfection.
They just needed me. Just the way I am, living exactly as we were, in the season we were in.
And I slowly replaced all of my ‘new mom’ preconceived notions with an old mom’s relaxed way of thinking.
Ten Things I Wish I Knew As a New Mom
1. Let Go of All of Your Expectations
Nothing is going to turn out the way you expect it to. You cannot create a rosy perfect world, because stuff happens, and it always happens at the most inopportune time. Life is messy and imperfect, as it should be.
Let go of all of your preconceived notions and just roll with it.
2. Listen to the Advice of Others, But Don’t Take It to Heart
There are a lot of experts out there telling you what you should do and the best way to do it.
And there are a lot of seasoned mamas out there with helpful advice. Seriously consider their tips, but keep in mind that at the end of the day, you have to do what feels right for you and your kids.
You are the expert for your family.
3. Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
I never slept when the first three were sleeping.
I had stuff to do! A house to clean, a garden to weed, meals to cook, cookies to bake! Blah blah blah!
Your sleep is so important! There is nothing that will wreak havoc on your cognitive functioning faster than a lack of sleep will!
4. Don’t Buy In to All of the Hype
Trends come and go, even in parenting.
When my oldest was born, it was okay to sleep your baby on his side, wrapped up in blankets.
By the time the twins were born, blankets were taboo and they only slept on their backs. Bassinettes were out and Baby Boxes were in. Keep a level head when considering all of the trends and products out there – most of that stuff you don’t need to buy in to.
5. Don’t Overreact
It is okay for them to climb the monkey bars and jump from the top of a swing set.
They will break arms and it’s not the end of the world. It’s our job to keep them alive, but not to protect them from experiencing life.
They need to face failures, disappointment and hurt. They also need to feel the swell of pride from accomplishing something new and difficult, so let them try!
6. It’s Okay for Baby to Cry
Babies communicate through crying, just as a teenager communicates through complaining.
It doesn’t mean we have to jump to respond to each and every outburst.
We simply need to listen and respond when necessary. If you cannot get to your baby ASAP when he cries, it is okay. Crying isn’t going to kill him.
7. Live in the Moment
I am a worrier and an over-thinker by nature.
I will mentally chew on a problem all day long. And this heavy thought process can take over my physical interactions with my children. Let that stuff go! Live in the moment. You can contemplate life later.
Be physically, mentally and emotionally present when you are with your children. They deserve all of you.
8. Messy Houses Can be Cleaned Later
Keep your house livable, but don’t spend every waking moment managing a clean domicile.
It will take away precious time from the ones you love the most!
And some day real soon, those messy little handprints will be gone and you will be wishing you had to wash them off of the window just one last time….
9. Don’t Give Your Kids Perfection
The world isn’t perfect and your kids’ world should not be either.
Otherwise, they will face quite a shocker when they leave the nest.
Keep it real in your home and resist the urge to shield them from struggles, hurts and disappointments.
They are going to need to know how to handle those feelings when they get out on their own. It is our job to get them ready for that imperfect world.
10. They Really Do Grow Up Too Fast
I have a 20 year old, a 17 year old and a 14 year old.
I also have a six year old and four year old twins. Trust me – TRUST ME – when I say they will be gone in a blink of an eye!
You can’t get these years back. Treasure them.
Being an imperfect mom is one of the best gifts you can give your children!! Nothing is learned from perfection. EVERYTHING is learned from the struggle.
Keep it real mamas!