I’ll admit, it’s been a little while since I was a “new mom.” But since my oldest started his senior year of high school, those days have been flooding my mind and the memories are as crystal-clear as they’ve probably ever been.
My inaugural journey into motherhood was an eventful experience. It started as a surprise and it blossomed as a blessing. It was something I had to embrace as a single mom, but I’ve never learned so much about life and myself as I did during all those years of steering the ship, solo. I’m also confident in sharing some of the mistakes that I think are commonly made by new moms, because I was one of those moms.
Somewhere along the way, a silly assumption was formed that led women to believe they need to do it all. Not only do they need to do it all, they must do it well and without fault. Because of this, mothers feel the weight of that expectation and think they won’t be deemed a good mom if they don’t.
They must raise a baby, manage a household, contribute financially, extend emotional support, take care of the shopping, make the appointments, run all the errands, cook, clean, aaaaaand be a partridge in a pear tree. This expectation is ludicrous. It’s far too much for any one person to handle by themselves, without some kind of additional help and support. Whether it be a spouse, a partner, a parent, a friend, an assistant, a nanny, etc.
When they say, it takes a village… it takes a village! There is no shame in asking for help. The reality is, you’re going to need it. And that is perfectly okay. You can still be supermom. TRUST ME.
Common mistake #2: Not focusing on healing your body
Pregnancy along with labor and delivery is hard on the body. It looks different for each of us. Some women are blessed with a perfect pregnancy, a lovely labor, and even a delightful kind of delivery. While others experience a pregnancy full of puking, a labor lasting an obscene number of hours, and deliveries that result in complications and c-sections. Whether smooth or strenuous, our bodies take a beating. Then our mental and emotional health is rocked with hormones and other hang-ups.
We are doing ourselves zero favors by not taking good care of our bodies post-partum. I know that may be one of the hardest things to focus on because we also have a newborn baby that we’re trying to tend to. But consider this kind of care to be the priority in order to protect your children. They need us to be the best version of ourselves and that means giving attention to our recovery.
Allow yourself to rest when baby is sleeping. Give yourself permission to put down the dishes, take a hot shower, a soak in the tub, or a nap alongside your little one. The rest of the stuff can wait. TRUST ME.
Common mistake #3: Stressing about keeping a clean home
I am a solid Type A individual who likes things neat and tidy. I cannot even tell you how difficult it was to come home from a long day at work, tend to my baby, and still maintain a clean home. But I’m going to tell you right now, during those early years, it’s just not worth it.
Babies and toddlers make a mess. All the live long day. Don’t waste your energy and your time following behind them because there’s this incredibly conspicuous cyclone that seems to attach itself to your backside. Every time you look over your shoulder, you’re going to see something that needs to get picked up or cleaned up. Stressing out over all the clutter, chaos, and confusion is just going to send you off the deep end. If I could go back, I’d spend less time worrying about the wreckage and giving myself permission to play more. You’ll miss those moments. TRUST ME.
Common mistake #4: Assuming you have to take everyone’s advice
There’s a significant difference between unsolicited advice and intentional advice that you seek, as a new mom. People are going to give you all sorts of advice, suggestions, and ideas of how you should raise your child. Family, friends, coworkers, and complete strangers! You will find some of it wise and worthwhile and other times it will simply be opinions that you can pass on. Nobody knows your baby better than you. Don’t be afraid to politely decline any undesirable input. Not every person is full of wisdom. TRUST ME.
Common mistake #5: Comparing your story to someone else
This goes for more than motherhood, but for the purpose of this post, let’s talk about your baby. Children develop at all different rates. Yes, there’s typically a standard, but if your child isn’t falling in line with that, don’t fret. Try not to get caught up in comparing your child. Unless your pediatrician has concerns about their health and well-being, the rest is just a part of your story, and theirs.
You won’t find comfort or joy if you are placing your little guy or gal up against others. Your child is unique and made especially for your arms. That’s part of the beauty of parenting. You get a front row seat to someone special who doesn’t need to share the stage with anyone else. They will have plenty of time later in life where they will get compared. You don’t have to take part in that grisly game. TRUST ME.
I think the biggest misconception about these mistakes is that you failed as a mom. We could talk about what some big-time failures look like, but that’s not this. These are mostly missteps from a lack of experience. They are things we don’t necessarily understand until we’ve lived them and figured out what works best for us [and our baby].
Most first-time-moms have these same fundamental fears, so as a seasoned mother it works well if we can encourage new moms to recognize how important it is to use their own intuition, ask questions, and then settle on what they believe is best.
Best is not thinking you need to do it all.
Best is taking care of YOU, too.
Best is not an immaculate home.
Best is only taking the advice you feel comfortable with.
Best is not comparing your story to someone else.