Dear First Time Mom Jessica:
Parent from the heart. There is going to be so much advice that comes your way on how you should do this and how you should do that, but at the end of the day, no one knows that baby’s cry like you do. No one can hold that baby like you can. That baby would prefer you over another mom who has ten kids and experienced hands. That baby wants your hands, your smell, your comforting voice, your way of handling them. Have confidence in yourself, and follow what feels right to you.
Put down the books. I know you love to read a million and one parenting books, and you find yourself yelling “Yes! Yes!” to everything Dr. Sears says because it feels so right…but not even the amazing Dr. Sears knows you or your kids. Cause what’s going to happen is you’re going to mess up. You’re going to mess up numerous times and you’re going to think about what you read in some book and how it said it’s going to hurt your child if you don’t handle situations just how you’re supposed to…and you’re going to feel like a failure. You’re going to dwell on how bad of a parent you are because you’re comparing yourself to someone else’s advice on what parents should do in a perfect world with textbook temperaments and classic scenarios that always go according to plan. Right? Wrong. No. Step away from the damn books.
Don’t worry so much. The older your kids get, the more you will see that other parenting methods and things you thought were god awful to do to children (like letting them watch too much tv) actually don’t ruin them. You will meet other moms with kids who are in the gifted class and they will tell you that their kid ate only goldfish crackers till they were five and didn’t go to preschool. It’s scary but also relieving to know that you actually don’t have this huge effect on your kids like you think you do. As long as they live a moderately normal life, the universe does not let you rain on their parade. They will be awesome regardless.
Put down your phone. It is hard to parent little children when you are glued to an electronic device. When you are focused too hard on anything, really. Days spent with little people can feel long, tedious, and boring…but your day will actually go by much quicker and smoother when you put your phone down. You have more patience when you aren’t so honed in on something and constantly feeling interrupted. And trust me, there isn’t much in your Facebook newsfeed that you have to trade your sanity for. Not worth it, sister. Save your phone time for when you’re nursing the baby to sleep.
It’s okay to walk away. When you are about to lose your cool, you don’t have to try and pull yourself together in the moment in order to be a “good mom”. It is perfectly okay to walk away and pull yourself together in another room with the door shut. Make sure your child can’t harm himself, and then take a breather. It’s amazing how much clarity and patience come back to you when you’ve had five minutes alone. All moms need breathers, even the “good” ones.
Go with the flow. Don’t have too many expectations for how things should be. Just go with the flow of the day. Play on the floor when your child needs you to. Clean up a little in whatever room you’re in. Do what you can here and there throughout the day, but don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. The moms who look like they’re doing a million and one things even though they have a handful of kids are the ones who burn out later on. Then they write books about how they looked like they had their shiz together but were making their families and themselves miserable. Be happy, go with the flow, enjoy the happy moments, have faith through the hard moments, remember that you are very loved and needed, and don’t sweat the small stuff. And forgive yourself, a lot.
It’s all easier said than done.