Welcoming a baby in the home is both exciting and daunting. Motherhood presents many firsts and some great learning experiences. In this post, I'll share my top five tips for the new (or not-so-new) mom!
1) Take All the Help You Can Get
You've probably already heard the phrase, "It takes a village. Find your tribe." Well, it's accurate. Before having Ezra, I actually scoffed at the sentiment. Yes, I recognized that I would need to accept help, but to call those around me a "tribe" seemed a little extreme.
Ha! Once you have a child, your mentality towards your friends drastically changes, especially those who rally around you in order to provide assistance. Yes, they are a tribe, coming to love on you and your tiny human as if you were part of their family. Typically, those who come to your aid are those who have experienced this tribe mentality. They know the importance of support and offer it in spades.
When those gracious people offer you assistance, take it, all of it! You don't have to do motherhood on your own. I'm sure some people are thinking, "Great, but you have a whole community of fellow Christ-followers and church-goers to come to your aid. I have none of that. I'd be left alone."
Not true. There are tons of people who love Jesus who want to extend His love to you. You may not know your tribe right now, but guaranteed, if you were to reach out to a local body of believers, they would wrap their arms around you and assist you however you may need. However, if you're not finding support, please reach out to me! I would love to help in whatever way possible.
2) Take Everything With a Grain of Salt
Sometimes those good-hearted people I mentioned earlier offer a TON of advice, whether you ask for it or not. Some of that advice will be helpful and applicable. The rest of it you can disregard or simply take it with a grain of salt.
Each baby is different. Your baby may sleep beautifully through the night, or your baby may be up every hour to eat. Your baby may be able to lay peacefully in a swing or Pack N Play, or your baby may need to be held nearly every moment. Each baby is different, and that is perfectly alright.
Likewise, each mother is different. You may absolutely love motherhood, or you may mourn the loss of being your own individual. You may find inexpressible joy in providing selflessly for your baby, or you may dread each time your baby indicates they are hungry. Each mother is different, and that is perfectly alright. (Notice a theme here?)
Some of the advice people offer will be applicable to you and baby, and you may be exceptionally thankful someone mentioned that piece of advice. Other times, you're going to have to listen, consider what they said, and kindly disregard whatever it is they said. They won't be offended. Guaranteed, they've done the same thing! Simply find what works for you and baby.
3) Be Willing to Learn and Make Mistakes
This one probably goes without saying, but it's important to include anyways. There is so much to take in when you become a mom and start taking care of a new life. Take the time to learn as much as you possibly can! Research various parenting styles, dabble in a little psychology to understand Erickson's emotional development stages and Piaget's cognitive stages, and prepare yourself to interact with your baby to best help them learn about the world around them. Being prepared is crucial as you determine what kind of parent you want to be and will become.
With learning comes mistakes. You will make mistakes and make them often. That is okay! There is a massive learning curve as you figure out your new role and your new human.
One tool I found helpful was Carol Dweck's Mindset. In it, she explains the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. After reading this book, I was able to utilize mistakes as a learning opportunity as opposed to simply berating myself over the "failure." I'll be honest, parts of the book were repetitive, but the message was clear and easy to understand (just difficult to practice!).
4) Have Realistic Expectations
Your expectations for yourself are going to be drastically different than the expectations I had for myself. No matter what, though, make sure those expectations are realistic; if they are not, adjust them! There is absolutely no need to stress yourself out over expectations you simply cannot meet. That doesn't mean you're a failure or failing at being a mom. It just means you are human, have limitations, and have a new normal. You might not be able to do today what you did yesterday. Take everything in stride and do what you can.
Whatever you do, enjoy those sweet baby snuggles while they last!
5) Give Yourself Grace.
Let me repeat myself: GIVE. YOURSELF. GRACE. You will not nail this whole motherhood journey perfectly. You will make mistakes, you will have plenty of learning opportunities, and you will need to rely on others. That is normal, understandable, and expected. Everyone else will think of you as a super-hero for simply taking on the challenge of being a mom. It's time you view yourself as the champion that you are! It's time to extend yourself a lotta bit of grace. ;)
After reading this post, you may be thinking, "Yea, Dynelle, I already know these things. So much for tips!"
These are things we can have a head knowledge of but not practice in our lives. These are the things I knew but need to remind myself of daily.
Read this as often as you need a reminder.
And remember: you got this!