Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday. I hear (from other Moms) that mothers are sad on their baby’s first birthday. I saw it as a celebratory milestone. Yes, she is no longer a baby. (Though she will always be my baby.) However, I successfully survived the first year of motherhood. I am proud of how we have grown together. I brought mimosas to our play date to celebrate.
When I was pregnant, I scoured the internet for knowledge of being a mom.
I read tons of blogs.
It found it helpful to read the experiences and insight of normal parents. In writing blog posts (especially this one) I now think about the secretly anxious pregnant woman I was over a year ago.
So here are my tips for staying sane during the first year of parenthood.
Lower your expectations
You will not be June cleaver. It will take time to get into a baby care groove. Keep low expectations and you will not be too disappointed.
Set small goals
In the early days, my goal was to shower that day. Once that goal became routine, I added another goal. Goals helped the day from getting away from me. The days feel long, but they also go by quickly. I realize that is contradictory. I have no way of describing how the concept if time has changed. Time is bizarre as a new parent.
Get a smart phone
I do not let my daughter play with my phone. I also am certain to pay attention to her and not the phone. My phone helped me stay awake in the wee hours while nursing her, gave me contact with the outside world when I was lonely, and provided an outlet when she was sleeping on me. Thank heaven for Words With Friends and Pinterest.
Now that she is a toddler, I cannot use the phone in front of her. I also now don’t need help staying awake at 3:00 am. The phone really helped when she was small. Other people may choose to read books. Just make sure you have some outlet.
Invest in a great stroller and a comfortable sports bra. Then get your butt outside.
Towards the end of last (tundra-esq) winter my pediatrician told me fresh air is good for babies' sleep. I am not sure if this is true. I think she saw that I was going stir crazy without our morning walks and wanted to encourage me to start up even though it was still cold. We started walking daily very early on and the benefits were tremendous. After walking I felt like I really accomplished something.
I also observed how seeing a baby really puts a smile on strangers faces. Exercising helped me connect with my body and feel like it was mine again. I do simple floor exercises with her. She giggles. Yoga is really silly to her. So it makes me feel sane as I make her laugh.
Communicate your expectations to your partner
In order to parent with someone, you have to be on the same page. I am very lucky to have a wonderful partner. I have observed and learned is that if you want your partner to do something, or even act a certain way, you have to tell them. No one reads minds. Be gentle in how you go about making these requests. No one, especially a new parent, likes feeling criticized. If he is doing housework or baby care in a way that bothers me, I tell him gently.
Open up the dialogue. Discuss what kind of parent you want to be with your partner. Since we talked about these things during pregnancy, my husband already knew what topics were important to me. I didn’t have to convince him of cloth diapering, no screen time, and keeping plastics out of the house while also dealing with a new baby.
I could not do this alone. Responsible, sane single parents impress the heck out of me.
Find your tribe
I was resistant to finding new Mom friends. I had mom friends, but no one lived locally. Part of my resistance was thinking other moms would be judgy. All women judge in some way.
It may take time to find your tribe of women, but it is worth it. There are people who really will be interested in the mundane things about your baby that are worrying you. Another new Mom understands those silly baby care worries. I call them silly now because I got through them. (Those other new Moms are now available to me for tantrum advice.)
Don’t turn to your Facebook wall and bother everyone you know. Social media can be helpful, but keep it to Moms groups. I’ll write more in the future about finding your tribe.
Do what is best for you and your little family. Don’t compare yourself to how anyone else’s little family operates. Grasping that you are your own little family may be hard. Do not compare yourself to your sister, mother, cousin, friend, etc. Trust your instincts. You know what is best.