I thought I knew what I was getting into when I became a mom. I felt pretty prepared because I have always had kids in my home. I have fostered children and I have watched and loved kids as my own for years. I was not ready for the realism of being a full time parent of two. Let me share with you some of the things I have learned from my baby’s first year.
DON’T BUY EXPENSIVE TOYS
Yes new is great and in your new parent excitement you will buy that ridiculously priced contraption. Then once it is setup at home, you will find out the hard way that your baby hates it! Oh, and baby will only use it for three months. There are usually floor displays so you can try it before you buy it. Put your baby in it. Let them explore it. Take the time to examine it. My husband and I realized this after oohing and ahhing over a Jumperoo. We put our daughter in it and she freaked out as if she was going to seriously have a heart attack if we left her in it. We found out she prefers to wander freely. Her favorite toys are the walk behind and ride on toys we were given by family and friends.
THE RULES ARE ALWAYS CHANGING
What works the first few nights to soothe your baby will not work three nights later, nor will it work in another week. Babies are the rule makers. No matter how much you think you are going to set the rules and they are going to be on your schedule it very rarely works that way. Surrender right now! The moment that little bundle of frustrating joy is born it owns you! You will no longer have control over what time you wake up or go to sleep. You will no longer be out of the door on time and you most certainly will never be able to think the same again.
I CAN TUNE ANYTHING OUT
First time parents are typically on high alert for any little sound baby makes. During those early months my husband could hear the rustle of our baby’s crib sheets two rooms away. But as our baby grows we are learning to filter out the unnecessary noise. While on a call with a business associate, I was able to tune out an episode of Dinosaur Train playing on the TV, my baby screaming at her brother, her brother screaming back, and my husband getting the dog to bark on command while the washer and dryer were doing their jobs. My associate actually asked me to call her back because she was getting a headache from all the “background noise” in my home. When on the phone with non-parents go to a room as far away from the noise as possible. Folks without kids cannot tune out the commotion of your daily life the same way you can.
MY MARRIAGE CAN WITHSTAND ANYTHING
Just before the birth of my daughter, my family endured a lot of big changes. The week before she was born, my husband was seriously injured when a drunk driver hit him. Then within a month, we unexpectedly gained full custody of my stepson. Together we were struggling to adjust to full time parenthood with a newborn and a four year old. Neither of us were able to work. He was trying to heal from his injuries, and I was still healing from pregnancy on bed rest and child birth. I started to feel like a single parent of two while my husband was limited physically in what he could do to help. This all took a huge toll on us as a couple. Somehow, we made it through. Talk, Talk, Talk especially during the times you do not want to. Becoming a new parent is life changing in its self and when life adds those extra struggles, the situation feels almost impossible.
I AM INVINCIBLE
After becoming a mom, I completely fell apart. I struggled with the lack of sleep, the lack of help and lack of knowledge. However, I found an inner strength I never knew I had. Suddenly, I was able to feed a newborn with one arm while making a bowl of cereal for a toddler. I learned to multitask like a boss. I was able to keep a floundering family together and I was able to become me again.
On those really tough days, give yourself credit for even the small things you accomplish each day. Eventually you will start to see the bigger things you accomplish. When feeling like you cannot possibly take one more thing thrown at you, look in the mirror and tell yourself “you got this.” Be your own cheerleader because there will be times when others just do not understand what you are dealing with. You will overcome!
I TREASURE EVEN THE TINY MOMENTS
During the struggles of this first year as a mom, it has been the tiny moments that kept me going. A simple brush of my husband’s hand across mine reminds me that the man I married is still in there somewhere. Seeing my baby sleeping on her daddy’s chest reminds me of why I fell in love with him. Hearing my baby’s first giggle refreshes my weary soul. Watching my two children play together reminds me how blessed I truly am. When life is at its toughest keep looking for those tiny moments until you find a glimpse of joy. The tiniest moment can be the glue you need to mend that broken heart or those frayed emotions.
HUGS ARE SOOTHING
When children are hurt, or scared, unsure or happy they look for a hug. We can do the same! Hugs can be comforting and assure us we are safe. I personally have always enjoyed a good hug from a special cousin. I’ve even driven to her job just to get a hug. This last year I learned to accept hugs from others who could see me struggling but had no words to console me. HUG! It is that simple. Sometimes we just need to feel a little human connection. A hug is the simplest way to connect. Did I mention HUG!?
IT IS OK TO CRY
We are born with the natural ability to cry and yet we are taught that it is not OK to do it as we grow up. During some of my toughest moments the only thing that made me feel better was crying. Sometimes tears would just roll down my face without me realizing it. There is no shame in crying. It is like cleaning our emotional chalkboard of stress. Crying can lead to sleeping and sleeping equals silence. I am not just talking about babies. Sometimes all we really need is a good cry and a nap.
I AM NEVER ALONE
It is strange but when you become a new mom it feels like you are suddenly alone and nobody understands what you are going through. The reality is once you have children you will never be alone again! Even though I wasn’t really alone, there were still times I felt like I was drowning in loneliness. Don’t be afraid to invite friends and family to visit. Get out of the house and find community events to enjoy.
In this past year, I had to find what worked for me and my family to survive the curve balls thrown at us. We made it! Our struggles have given us a new understanding of our relationships with each other and our friends. If you are struggling too, just know that you will overcome the first year, and the second year, and the third year and so on!
Debra is a first time mom to her beautiful rainbow baby Skyler, a wife, a blogger and an ordained minister. She enjoys crafting and creating educational fun for her step sons and decorating her home. Find Debra at Crossing New Bridges on Facebook and on Twitter.