You wait for 9 months with the knowledge and anticipation that a tiny person will soon join the party. The day comes. Baby makes an appearance. Friends and family meet said little person. You go home in the glow of so much newfound love and excitement. Then, real life comes along. “Routine” (a word that you use very loosely after a new baby arrives) returns and you meet the daily joys and challenges head on. Right about now you might be feeling a little overwhelmed, inadequate, and frustrated.
This was me a little over two years ago. A first time mama who had never even changed a diaper until Little West Man was close to two weeks old (I’m still not sure how I “managed” that). Since then I’ve learned a little bit about mommyhood (and have so much more to learn) and it is my desire to encourage you new moms in the challenges of your wonderful job.
Learn from my mistakes and avoid these seven steps to becoming a frustrated new mom…
- Do it by the book. Make sure you follow the well-intentioned parenting books to the letter. They wrote a book about fill-in-the-blank-baby-issue, so they must have THE right way to deal with it right? Not exactly. Let me qualify all of this by saying there are some marvelous resources out there about raising and training children. We need the wisdom and experiences of those who’ve already done it to help us to be successful. So read those books, but know that what worked for them and their children may not necessarily be the very best for you and your children. Use how-to book as helpful suggestions, not rules to follow.
- Set a schedule in stone. I fell flat on my face with this one. Yes, I did. You have to understand that flexibility does not come naturally to my personality. Once Son #1 hit one month of age, it was schedule time, baby! Here was the schedule and it would be followed to a “t” at all times. *insert Captain Von Trapp’s whistle* Suffice it to say, that didn’t work too well. I ended up being completely frustrated with myself. A schedule is a beautiful thing to keep life humming along smoothly, but it only keeps life smooth if you add a dash of flexibility. Whenever a friend asks for new mommy advice, I tell them to find a schedule that works for them… and then write it in pencil. The general structure will help you know when to eat, when to shop, and when to rest, but setting it in stone will just leave you frustrated.
- Don’t give yourself any grace. You are not a terrible parent. You are a learning parent. Mistakes are going to happen as you parent. It’s how you deal with those mistakes that shows if you’ve learned anything from them. There is forgiveness that covers those mistakes and grace that pushes you more towards godliness.
- Take advantage of every free moment to get something done. What does everyone tell a new mom? Repeat after me – “Sleep when they sleep!” Please listen to this advice, mama! It is totally okay to go to bed as soon as Baby is finally asleep and it is totally okay to sit down with a cup of coffee and rest during nap time. Sure, there will be times that you ned to get things done, but don’t sacrifice your well-being. There is nothing like a happy, rested, recharged mom!
- Do it all! Because that is the essence of being Super Mom, right? Not really. Super Mom chooses her battles wisely and does a few things well. Give yourself permission to put projects on the back burner if need be. Be bold enough to ask for help. If it’s been a rough day, ask your husband to bring dinner home with him. This is a season.
- Worry about what other people think. Oh my. It embarrasses me now to think how worried I was when my baby would cry or my toddler would tantrum out in public. Bottom line: The needs of your little one trump what everyone else thinks. Always. Take heart; most people will actually respond in sympathy – not annoyance – when they see a tired, fussy baby.
- Put a high value on “things”. Favorite outfits will be stained with newborn baby poo, the sofa will be covered in spit up sooner or later, sippy cups will be spilled on the new rug, and sentimental items will be broken accidentally by tiny hands. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that no “thing” is as valuable as your tiny person.
So, what do new moms need?
- Grace. So much grace! As new moms, we need grace from the Lord, grace to move past our failures, grace to try again, and grace to shower love on our little ones even when the days are hard and long.
- Perspective. Someone once said that the days are long, but the years are short… So keep the frustrations in perspective. So what if a glass shattered? You’ve been meaning to sweep the kitchen floor anyway!
- A break. It is okay to go to a coffee shop for an hour and read or relax with a cup of coffee. I know for me, personally, this can be golden – a reset button that prepares me to jump back into mommyhood. Bonus: Daddy gets a little bit of one-on-one time with Baby. They both love this and it’s something they rarely get.
- Community. We all pretend that playdates are times for our children to play with other children around their age. What I’ve found, though, is that these times are really very special for moms. It can be a great time to share practical tips about raising young ones, to be honest about our struggles, to assure each other that our “jobs” as moms are incredibly important, and to encourage each other in the trenches.
- The Word. As a Christian, I know that unless my relationship with God is strong, the other aspects of my life will not run smoothly. Why is this? Because our lives are ultimately for His glory and unless I am walking closely with him, my life will not reflect that.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. [2nd Corinthians 12:9-10]
GIVEAWAY! We are super excited to partner with Kiwi and Hope to bring you a special giveaway. The winner will be announced on June 15th. Please follow the instructions below to secure your entry to win an essential oils pouch. Giveaway open to all residents of the Continental United States.
From Kiah: “My name is Kiah and I am a world changer. I own a shop called Kiwi and Hope. In my shop I sell zipped pouches (think make-up bags) and donate 10% of monthly proceeds to orphan prevention/orphan care or an adoption related cause. When I am not sewing, I blog at kiwiandhopeblog.com. I love Jesus, eating chocolate, reading (yay for Jane Austen), and Disney. I hope that you’ll stop by for a visit. “