Let's be honest, when you're pregnant…..everyone gives you advice. More advice than you can ever take in or apply. I'm a total researcher, so in addition to all the advice I got, I researched a TON (and now I sort of laugh at the plans I had).
This week I was chatting with a dear friend who has an almost one year old. We were chuckling at the advice for new parents people told us that now we wish we had listened to more carefully.
One of my first memories of motherhood was the advice my own mom gave me the day we came home from the hospital. “Remember the rules on an airplane? Grab your own mask first.” Now, I'm not going to lie. I shrugged this off. I was nursing and not sleeping and not showering and….she must have forgotten what it was like. Right? In hindsight……she probably HADN'T forgotten…..she just had the perspective of a whole life of parenting. Something I didn't have yet (and still don't four years in).
You'll Never Sleep Again! 7 Pieces of Advice for New Parents I Wish I'd Followed…….
Take Care of Yourself Too: I see you new mama. I see the spit up stains, the unwashed hair, the tired eyes….and trust me…..I was the same. Honestly? I felt like being there EVERY single moment for my very much wanted and prayed for daughter was my main job. But here's the piece I missed. I wasn't the only one who needed to be there. It was OK to take a shower. To take a walk. To take a NAP. In hindsight, I wish I'd allowed other people (including my husband) take the reins a little more…..I think I would have felt a little more balanced for those first six months or so.
GET OUT: This may have been my biggest mistake. I didn't get out of the house enough. I went for walks. A lot of them. But my husband worked on the weekends (and still does) and it felt SO HARD to pack up all our stuff and to take an infant out and about on my own. What was the result? I sometimes felt isolated. First time mom nervousness? Maybe. But I feel like if I'd asked a friend to come help me a bit so we could all go somewhere, they would have.
Don't Do Anything You Don't Want to Do for the Next Few Years: At first, I shrugged this off. It was advice from my 75 year old male obgyn. But guess what? He raised four kids, has multiple grandchildren and has birthed THOUSANDS of babies. Maybe he knows something? He also called me multiple times in the first few weeks, just to see how I was doing. Now that? Is commitment to mental well being of your patient. And each time he repeated, “Whatever you chose to do parenting-wise is fine, just be sure you're committing to things you'll be able to continue. Habits are hard to break for babies and parents.” In hindsight? I get it. He was right. So think in advance about how you'd like to sleep, feed, etc. Come to some agreements with your partner. And in chaotic moments (there will be plenty early on)….make decisions together. Empower each other to think long term. You'll thank yourselves later.
Find Parenting Mentors: Look around. Who do you admire as parents? Your own? Family friends? The neighbor up the street? Ask THEM questions. Ask them how they navigated milestones and challenges. Are there specific books they read? What helped THEM? Ask to take them out to dinner and pick their brains. Then leave them to have a dessert date alone. On you. Trust me, they'll be happy to keep giving tips and advice after that!Maintain Something You Love: From running to reading romance novels to building model trains….we all have a random, totally about us hobby that we love. KEEP DOING THAT. Make time to do something that does nothing but bring you joy. You'll be glad you did.
Date Your Partner: I know, I know. Everyone tells you to do this. And everyone then realizes how difficult that is with a young baby. I REALLY wish we'd set a day each week and made it happen always. We're finally getting back to that, but….man we should have done it all along. One tip someone gave me? Day dates work too! Grab a coffee or go for a walk while someone can watch your napping baby. It doesn't have to be a huge production. Just quality time together!
Find Your PEOPLE: This was my BIGGEST mistake as a new mom. I felt like I had plenty of friends. One of my friends even had a baby two days after Lydia was born. So I didn't join any new mom groups or programs. Then I went back to work and felt, too busy. I wish I'd taken the time. I needed a tribe of people who had kids the same age. Luckily, I've connected with a few moms from Lydia's school who have passed all the initial playdate friend tests….and I feel like I'm finally finding those mamas, but I sure wish I'd made this a priority earlier!
Use Resources You Trust: When Lydia was little, I googled EVERYTHING. Then I never knew which resources were trust worthy. One of the resources my pediatrician recommended (especially as we navigated Lydia's birth defect and treatment options)…..was the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes Give Them Tomorrow program is an amazing program that is dedicated to providing support and research for every one of the 11,000 babies born in the United States each day. Did you know that the March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit that addresses pregnancy and baby health? In the last almost 80 years, families have benefited from the research and support March of Dimes provides. And something important to US? The March of Dimes has invested more than $19.3 million in research to prevent premature birth and birth defects. Since we navigated medical treatment for Lydia's birth defect that hits especially close to home for US.
Not only does the March of Dimes do amazing research, but they have programs that support new families everywhere. You can visit www.marchofdimes.com/tomorrow to see how they're distributing more than 6,000 gift packages to new moms all over the country. In fact, they inspired us to do the same!
ALDI is one of the March of Dimes biggest corporate supporters, and what a great fit……their Little Journey baby line was a total staple in our home during Lydia's early years. I loved their gentle baby wash, wipes and snacks and loved even more that they are NOT going to break the bank.
I was so inspired by the March of Dimes and ALDI…..that Lydia and I put together a few gift baskets for new moms ourselves. I'm excited to share that we put together three baskets, each of which we donated to new moms in need (through a program we have at my inner city elementary school).