I am 3 years into being a mom. Reflecting back on our first year of parenthood, there are 9 main topics that stand out the most. I am sharing these in form of parenting tips for new moms. They are a personal account of what the first year of motherhood has been for me and I hope it can help give you some perspective and reassurance.
You are about to have a baby, or many you are home already with that new bundle of joy. Now you realize that there is a ton of parenting information out there and maybe some anxiety is creeping up your spine. Yes I’ve been there as well, and spent countless nights trying to learn how to properly use a breast pump and how to mix breast milk and formula. Continue reading as I share the 9 most meaningful things I learned during the first year of parenthood.
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1. Self care is no longer optional, it’s required
This is my favorite parenting tip for new moms!
Most women are people pleasers. We tend to easily say yes to everything and save our no’s for when it’s literally impossible to accept. As a parent, it’s time to put other’s (adults) needs aside and focus on you. You have a baby now and that little human needs their mama to be healthy and happy. (Struggling with negative feelings? read our post on post-partum depression & anxiety)
Self care will look different throughout the first year of motherhood. At the beginning, the baby is so attached to their mother, especially if they are breastfeeding. You will also be healing from giving birth, which I was totally not prepared for when the time came. Make sure you are not stressing about keeping the house in order, don’t worry about what others might be expecting of you.
==>Feel better with these 9 Top Self Care Tips from Moms (who Blog)<==
To sleep when baby sleeps felt impossible at first, but after 3 years of parenting I’ve realized it’s one of the soundest tips I ever received as a new mom. As a breast feeder, I slept in bed safely with my baby on my side. If that is not your style, you can also enjoy a snooze with baby in a cot beside you.
Again. In case, you missed this –> STOP THE HOUSE WORK. You need to rest mama, and if anyone is making you feel less for not keeping up with the house during that first year (or longer), kick them to the curb. You will have a nice house again when kids are off to college.
2. You will love your baby while not wanting to be with them all the time (and that’s OK)
There seems to be this expectation that women should love being mothers all the time. If a women complains about being tiered or simply needing a break from their baby, something must be terribly wrong. Over these past 3 years I’ve discovered that personality affects our tolerance for the amount of child-time we can tolerate (mine is probably in the middle ground).
Regardless if you need a break multiple times a day, once a day, or once a week, taking that break away from your baby is super important and normal.
Leave the baby at home with your partner while you take a walk, or go see friends. Being a part will fill your me-cup so when you are back home, baby will see a smiling and engaged mama.
==>Do you need a breast pump? Here is a review of the breast pump I used<==
3. Being exhausted becomes the new norm. (you’ll get through it)
My biggest worry with becoming a mother was the dreaded exhaustion everyone talks about. Going without sleep is not a good look on me, I knew it was going to be difficult. But here is the thing, you build a tolerance towards being tiered and you find new ways of resting.
You will close your eyes on the couch while someone else is on baby duty, you’ll zone out on your phone when baby is busy playing in their high chair or nursing.
As an expecting mom I only considered lack of sleep as the contributing factor to parent exhaustion, but the reality is that it comes in many forms. Remember that you are learning how to parent. Your child is constantly changing and throwing curved balls your way. For the most part, the shifting nature of a baby is what makes parenthood magical, but it’s undeniably exhausting too.
Eventually things get easier. In the meanwhile, make sure that you are practicing self care. If you start to notice your exhaustion taking the form of depression, reach out for help. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.
==>Here are 9 awesome self care tips from other moms<==
4. Sleep is not linear. You’ll be up with them on / off for many years.
I don’t mean to scare you, but nothing with parenting is linear. Your baby will take one step forward, then two steps backwards, before taking a step forward again. Progress is made but not in a perfect graph kind of way.
As a new parent, the ultimate goal seems to be getting baby to sleep. Understandably so as you want to sleep too. The thing is that even when you think the bedtime and night routine is nailed down to a T, something will throw a wrench into it. Your baby will get a cold, have a development spurt or just not feeling it one night, and there you are again at 3am watching peppa pig with them and eating fruit snacks to stay awake.
Sure, sleep training is a thing, and getting your baby to sleep alone can be helpful. Sleep training never aligned with my values so I chose not to. You can read about our bed sharing journey.
==>Curious what products I use to bed share? Check them out!<==
5. You don’t know 100% how your partner will be as a parent until the time comes
They say failing to plan, is a plan to fail, but when it comes to parenting there are too many curved balls for even the most organized couple. You are entering true uncharted territory with your loved one, which can sometimes create cracks in one’s relationship. Childhood memories take on a strong role in how we chose to parent and we might not be aware of its effects until the time comes.
The good news is that parenting can also bring you closer. You are sharing something that both truly love, so if you can be flexible with one another’s preferences, it can be a magical time for your family.
After 3 years of parenting I have to say my husband and I have found our balance. It is partly due to that I get the final say on most things Luca. We have always split up responsibilities in our life. While still doing many things together, splitting up major areas of family life has helped avoid many power struggles.
6. You will most likely gain undesired weight at some point.
Ugh, the weight. I thought I had escaped the post-partum mom-bod when at our son’s 1 year birthday I weighed less than before I even got pregnant. This was greatly due to us contact napping and bed sharing which meant I simply ate less.
Then he started to sleep more independently. I would get up at night after he fell asleep for some me-time which resulted in a few too many cookies and relaxing with a glass of cheap Margarita. Then the pandemic hit and we have been indoors more than usual.
Here I am, just around the corner of his 3rd birthday and I decisively have to admit its time to get in better shape. It’s not about the perfect body, it’s about the energy and endorphins that eating healthy and being active releases. (I got this water bottle that I LOVE, to help stay hydrated)
7. Making new mom friends is like dating again (but so worth it)
When we had our son I was really craving mom friends. Like the one’s you see on TV shows that hang out every day and complain about life together. Someone who truly understands what you are going through, because they are going through it too.
Luckily it helps that although introverted, I am very comfortable talking to strangers. I racked up many phone numbers on the playgrounds and indoor baby gyms with the prospect of becoming friends. Here’s the thing though. It’s not enough that you like the mom, your kids have to get a long too. It is just like dating, there are multiple puzzle pieces that need to come together in order for that friendship to blossom. Even something as simple as different nap schedules can stop moms from hanging out.
I have met some amazing moms and I know you can too. If you don’t know where to start, just start a conversation with the mom by the swing next to you by complementing them or their child. You can also find mom groups in your area through MeetUp, FB Groups and Nextdoor app.
8. Kids are all SO DIFFERENT. Don’t compare!
At the beginning of our journey into parenthood, we are bombarded by statistics and charts that are meant to help parents understand child development. Instead, I think it puts many parents in a state in constant anxiety. Those charts are meant to be guidelines, not set in stone. Yet, if a baby is not achieving those skills based on the timeline, many worry that it’s reflecting a larger problem.
During that first year of life it’s all about tummy time and whether baby can roll over. Then it’s whose baby is crawling first, who could hold their own bottle at the high chair and later whose babies are walking and talking before their first birthday.
I have to admit I never truly worried about these things and this is why you shouldn’t either. They will all get there eventually.
It is true that early intervention is helpful, but that is a decision that should be made with a pediatrician that you trust and not by comparing Lucy, John and Katrina from your mom group.
All children develop at different rates and there is absolutely no evidence that those who achieve skills earlier are predisposed to having a better life (whatever that means).
9. There is a ton of contradicting parenting tips. Trust yourself to know what is right for you.
Looking back at when we were new parents, I realize we knew so little. We tried to prepare like anyone else, but the reality is parenting means figuring it out through trial and error and a lot of reading books and checking out parenting forums.
Everyone around you has an opinion about what the best way is to parent, even those who don’t have children. You will receive a ton of really helpful tips, but unfortunately a ton of bad advice as well. This is the time to be your child’s advocate and decide what YOU think is best for your child. Every parent is different and more importantly, every child is different too.
You’ve got this!
Being a mom is the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done, but at the same time the most difficult thing too. Some days it feels like I’m superwoman while other days are total chaos. What makes it all easier is reminding myself, I am not the only one struggling. Writing these parenting tips for new moms is my way of reaching out to say, you’ve got this! you are not alone. You will love being a mom, but sometimes you will be miserable and that is totally OK too.
What has been your favorite parenting tip so far?
Share in the comments!
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