1) You don't need every gadget under the sun. You don't need a wipes warmer. You don't need a fancy travel system stroller. You don't need a motion detector to send you into a panic every time your child doesn't move for 15 seconds. You don't need a video monitor. You don't need a baby spa. Heck, you don't even need toys! Just give the kid a few wooden spoons and a box; he'll be happy as a clam.
2) There really is such a thing as a "mothering instinct". I spent a lot of time pre-baby wondering, "But how I am going to know when they're hungry? How will I know if they're too hot or too cold?" Sure, there are a lot of things I feel uncertain about, but there are definitely times when I knew there was something wrong, like when I just knew Ethan had an ear infection out in Kentucky and we needed to go to Urgent Care. Many times, you will just know what you need to know when you need to know it.
3) You don't have to go running to the pediatrician or make that midnight phone call every time your kid has a fever. Kids get fevers. All the time. Sometimes they are really high and it's ok! It still makes me a little nervous to see the thermometer read over 102, but after a few years, I know it's normal for my kids to have high fevers and have nothing beyond a simple cold wrong with them.
4) You will have time to exercise and take care of yourself. It's a myth that you will have zero time for yourself. But...you may not actually do any of those things until naptime.
5) Everything is a phase. Ethan has woken up late a night (or in the middle of the night) four out of the last seven nights. When I'm tempted to get frustrated, I make this my mantra. Two year old not eating dinner? This too shall pass. Newborn on a nursing strike? This too shall pass. Toddler screaming and hanging on your legs while you make dinner every night? This too shall pass.
6) You will not be bored. When I was pregnant with Ethan, someone told me that I would be bored. They're insane. Life as a mother is never boring. Mundane, maybe, but never boring.
7) You have to make yourself roll with the punches. Parenthood is unpredictable. Kids are unpredictable. Sometimes, you will make grandiose plans about what you're going to accomplish that day only to find that your three year old has a fever, the two year old has smeared poop all over the walls and the newborn wants nothing more than to be held all...day...long. And guess what gets the priority? Not that yard sale pricing. Not that Tuesday morning Bible study you were excited to go to. Your children. You take care of them first. This is really hard for me; I love structure, I love order, I love predictability. But it just doesn't always happen with kids.
8) Sometimes, you do what works regardless of the advice of friends, family or your pediatrician (gasp!). Everyone is an expert before they have kids. They have criticized every parent they knew for various parenting decisions and know exactly what their children are going to do. And then they have said child and realize that a lot of us are doing things just to stay sane and keep the peace. If you get desperate enough, you will bring your kid to bed with you even if you were adamantly against co-sleeping. If your newborn startles themselves awake every time you put them down to sleep, you might try putting them on their belly to sleep. When your child is coughing so hard all night long that they can't sleep, you will break down and do your own dosage math to give them the forbidden cough medicine. When your four month old is screaming through every feeding, you will try nursing standing up while rocking them in a pitch black bathroom. And yes, I've done every single one of those things.
9) Every parent and every family will have their own way of doing things - nursing or formula, vaccinating or not vaccinating, spanking or not spanking, working outside the home or inside the home, homeschooling or public schooling - and it's ok to be different. Sometimes it's ok if another family does things differently than me. And I don't need to have an opinion about how they do things just like they don't need to be judging me for how I do things. Let other families be. We all are trying to do the best for our kids.
10) Once you have a child, your life will change in every way possible. When you're pregnant, you don't really know what to expect, so you think that you will do everything you are currently doing and the baby will just tag along. Wrong. You will do everything you are currently doing (maybe), but the way you do everything will be completely different. You will still travel...but you will plan trips around the baby's schedule and if you fly, you will now haul around a lot more gear and you will pray very very hard that the baby doesn't scream for the entire flight. You will still hang out with friends...but you will either haul around a pack n play and diaper bag or you will come home before bedtime and you may not get a whole lot of actual adult conversation in. You will still go on dates with your spouse...but you will have to plan for a babysitter to be available. Life goes on, but it's just completely different.
So, what about you? What advice would you pass on to new mothers? What do you wish you had known before you had kids?
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Sharing with: Women Living Well,