Being a new mom can be one of the most rewarding as well as challenging times in life. Know that you are not alone in this complicated, sometimes unconventional and rewarding journey called motherhood. We asked a handful of expert moms to share some useful advice that we would like to pass along to you!
Hey new mama! I see you there with your messy bun, tired eyes, and a full heart. As a fellow mama to five, I FEEL you. Those early days after childbirth and into the new territory of baby and toddlerhood test you. They push and pull you in so many ways.
I remember hearing, “Oh! Cherish this dear! These days will fly by!”. I can now tell you, on the other side of birthing my five babies and having kids ages 12-3 years, that those well-meaning ladies are right. You will eventually get here and it will feel like a moment. However, in the midst of spit-up, diaper blowouts, wondering why your body is behaving the way it is, being so tired I cried many mornings when I first heard my babies waking up, and dealing with smothering loneliness as a new mom, I know this advice seems unrelatable and even callous at times.
Becoming Super Mom Takes Time
My advice to you is this: take each day one step at a time and be kind to yourself. You matter too. When you are woken up by an energetic baby or toddler and can barely see straight out of fatigue, take it one step at a time. Throw on some clothes, get them some food, and just focus on the next nap-time.
An entire day can seem overwhelming, but 2-4 hours seems much more manageable. When your husband offers to watch the baby while you go out with girlfriends (or when you kindly ask him to watch!), DO IT. The baby will never know you were gone in a week and partners need experience being you! Schedule your hair appointment, get yourself some new clothes sometimes, go to the exercise class, do a craft, go on a date with your other half. It’s way too easy to let your self-care fall in the cracks of new motherhood.
From here on out, your time is a hot commodity and it won’t be plentiful again for a long time. Commit to carve time out for yourself and whatever fills your tank back up. You and your children will reap the benefits.
In the midst of diaper changing, bottle feeding or breast suckling; up all night, up and down all day; you will start to wonder if you have what it takes to do this job. Wonder if someone else is doing it better. Stand in front of the mirror and wonder how so and so lost their baby weight so fast, but you are still wearing your maternity clothes six months postpartum.
Hear about a million activities that other moms have enrolled their babies in (music, yoga, gymnastics for babies!) and you will wonder why all you seem to be able to do is keep this human alive, or worse, force yourself to enroll in all of the activities and exhaust yourself even more. Want to know if it’s “normal” that your baby isn’t babbling, or if she isn’t walking by one. You will want to know how everyone else is doing it, because it is unimaginable to think that you have what it takes to grow a good human.
So, brave warrior, here is what I beg you to do. Sit quietly with yourself before making any choices or decisions for that baby or yourself. Listen to your intuition. A mother’s intuition is her superpower when it comes to raising humans. Check it out with YOU first; before posing questions on FB groups, or even to your family. Ask yourself, “Is this honest TO ME,” and be willing to listen. Never assume someone else knows before you do; you grew this human in your body (or were entrusted from the powers that be with their life) and you will know things that only a mother of this child can know.
Be gentle to you. Listen to you. Stay in touch with you.
Jennifer Jay Palumbo- @jennjaypal
When it comes to new motherhood, you can be inundated with advice, options, child-rearing philosophies and a barrage of, “You should read…” or “What worked for me…” While these words of wisdom (some better than others) are well-intended, it can be too much! Especially when you’re exhausted and hormonal.
Top 5 Tips For Mom
I do have my own personal top five list that helped keep me sane (the ever famous ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, a happy mom is a good mom, get a gift card to Starbucks, etc.) but my number one tip is this: If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Yes. It’s that simple. And what’s even more amazing is this statement will carry you through ALL of parenting no matter what the issue is or how old your child is.
Challenges For A New Mom
When I would try to get my sons to sleep, I’d first pace with them. If that didn’t work, I’d sit in the glider and rock them. If that didn’t work, I’d put them in the swing. We’d sing, we’d grab the bouncy seat, and in cases of emergency, we’d jump in the car. What worked one night, may not work the next. What worked for a whole week can change on a dime. And that is why if something doesn’t work, please don’t feel defeated or like you’re a failure. There is never ONE answer. There are several and the best we can do is keep trying, mixing it up, and finding what works best at that moment.
Your baby will never be more fragile and vulnerable as those early newborn days. She will need all of your care and attention. But do you know who else you need to care for in those early newborn days? You. Though you’ll be tempted to just collapse back into bed in between feeding sessions, there are a few things that you can – and should – do for yourself. If you take a few extra minutes to tend to your needs, rather than function in a sleep-deprived state of survival mode, you will be better off physically, mentally and emotionally.
Nutrition For New Moms
Ensure you eat something warm. Find a way to get a hot shower in once per day (remember: leaving your baby in her crib for just five minutes, even if she begins crying, won’t harm her). Set yourself up a comfortable place for feeding, with access to Netflix, a good book (something light and easy to read will be best!) or some mood-boosting music.
Be assertive when it comes to allowing visitors into your home – keep it to a small circle of supportive people whose presence will lift your spirits, and remember it’s not your job to “show off” your new baby, just because every Sandra, Sam and Sally want to pop by for a cuddle. Limit your phone usage – take a social media hiatus, leave text messages for another day (when you’ve got the brain space to respond to every well-meaning request for baby updates), and try to avoid Googling anything baby-related, instead reserving your questions for your midwife, OB-GYN or friends with kids.
Days At Home
There is nothing more precious, overwhelming or strange than those early days at home with your first baby, so be kind to yourself. And get in as many squishy newborn cuddles as you can!
Jennifer Weedon Palazzo- @momcavetv
No matter how prepared you think you are… you are never ready to become “Mommy.” I had years of experience as a nanny of infants to tweens. I thought I knew what being a mother would mean. I was woefully unprepared.
No Preparation For New Moms Is OK
The point is, you can’t prepare. Because every child is different, every relationship is different, everyone’s life circumstances are different. There are no parenting experts. Sure, read all the books, follow all the blogs, but take what works and chuck the rest with absolutely no guilt. There has never been anyone like your child before or anyone like YOU as a parent before. You’ve got to figure this out on your own.
I take that back, you won’t exactly ever “figure it out.” And THAT is the most valuable tip. Be kind to yourself.. Stop comparing your family to others. Just BE.
As a new mom, your heart just exploded and grew in ways you never knew imaginable – woohoo, you’re a mom! With this new job title though, it may be tempting and even exciting to give up the old you in exchange for this new little love. Pace yourself mama. The journey of motherhood is good, yet long, and it’s so important that you don’t lose sight of YOU.
A few key things you’ll need along the way in order to navigate your new path without losing you:
Don’t forget the girlfriends who got you here – friends will come in handy when the mountain of diapers begins to overwhelm you. Start the ongoing text threads so that you’ve got company in the middle of the night when you’re inevitably awake. Keep your circle open to for some new friends too – these women will be key! 🗝️
Your body. She helped you bring this little life here, so treat her with kindness as she now carries you through. Don’t forget to feed her and put her to bed when you can. She deserves just as much love as that sweet cherub.
No two days will look alike from here on out. The quicker we accept this reality, the better off the journey will be. Remember, this is all new and there is no going BACK – only forward, so let’s be flexible!
Sarah Snugglebug life- @snugglebug_life
Remember to communicate with your partner. It might sound silly, but it’s something that can be easily forgotten during those early days of mind-numbing exhaustion. It can be incredibly easy to fall into anger, resentment, or just underlying annoyance with your husband, especially in those early days. There may be days, for example, when he says things like “I’m so tired” even though you’ve been up with a baby all night. And it might feel really frustrating. But it’s important to remember that his feelings of exhaustion are probably as valid (though perhaps not comparable) as your own.
Emotions As A New Mom
And when if you find yourself feeling frustrated, resentful, or under-appreciated, talk to your partner. Not in an accusatory way, but in a way that explains what you’re feeling and, if you can identify them, what things you need. Keep in mind that your spouse may want to help you, but just may not realize what kind of help you need.
Try to be open to bringing your concerns and needs up in a manner that fosters dialogue. Having a baby will change you, so even if your partner used to know how to read your needs, you no longer have the same needs. And that might be a confusing and helpless feeling for him too. If you two can manage to talk through some of those feelings that can cause a lot of distance between partners, it won’t make transitioning into parenthood easy, but it will definitely make it easier.
Shanalee Sharboneau– @theshanalee
New Mom Life
Being a new Mom is one of the greatest journeys you will take. When you start on your journey, you find out the handy backpack you brought may need a serious upgrade. And then when you check your handy map, you realize you have traveled into unknown territory. 📍
The best advice for new moms, is to look around at your family and close friends and know, you will need a village. Begin to train your brain not to feel guilt when asking for help. Your mother already is waiting for you to ask, and you will need her. With my son, Braydon, I went from a weekly phone call with Mom to post-birth, preparing a room in my home so she would not leave. The new comforter, lamps, table and endless pillows were worth their weight in gold to make her feel more at home . . . and stay.
Separating From Your Baby
Also, when it is possible and you do feel comfortable to leave your beautiful baby with your Mom for a couple of hours (which it really is fine, she raised you, right?!), go out somewhere with your husband. Yes, I said date night. Start once a month, then to every other week, and if you can do weekly, you are doing great! Sometimes the stress and pressure of motherhood can really put pressure on a marriage, and that quick two hour movie, romantic dinner, or getaway lunch will do wonders for you, your marriage and family.
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