There’s a lot to stress about when you become a new mom.
From worries about your little one’s sleep habits to health to balancing your new “normal” as a mother, having a baby changes everything that your prioritize in your life. As a mom, I feel like I constantly think of my life in terms of B.C. and A.C.—before children and after children, because that’s how drastic of a change it can be.
But even though everything changes, it’s been my goal to make motherhood as enjoyable as possible. And even in the big moments and the worries that naturally come with parenthood, there are a few moments along the way that are definitely not worth stressing out over, such as…
Ha. Bet you weren’t expecting that one, were you? But with my first few babies, I was so stressed about how much sleep I was missing/getting that I actually made my life more miserable. By baby #4, I finally learned that it’s better to just not look at the clock during those late-night feedings (no, really, it changed my life!) and just go with the flow for a few months. I am dead serious when I say that if you can, just stop looking at the clock and doing that mental calculation–you know the one where you think, OK, if I go to sleep right now, I might get two hours in…?–just stop it entirely. You and your baby will both settle into a routine before you know it.
- Potty training.
Confession time: Potty training my first daughter was terrible. Although she got the hang of it pretty quickly, it was a miserable experience for both of us because I was terrified that she wouldn’t succeed. As it turns out, every child is different and potty training shouldn’t be a stressful experience. Try it, keep it light, and it will happen eventually, I promise.
There was a time in my motherhood journey that I declared that I would be the type of parent to only let my children play with sticks and use their imagination (OK, that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.) Our house would NOT be cluttered with toys, I declared. But guess what? Kids love toys, they are good for them and their imaginations and it’s a better life if you can embrace the good of toys, because there will come a time when your play room will be sparse once again. My advice? Invest in some cute and colorful baskets or bins, make a game out of picking them up at the end of the day, and lose the stress about having a constantly clean home, because everyone will be a lot happier for it.
- What anyone else thinks.
Be honest: How much of your parenting decisions are actually based on what you think other people will think of you as a parent? Yup, me too. I’ve totally worried about what our doctor might say to me if I admitted I didn’t brush my 2-year-old’s teeth all the time or I was having trouble getting him to eat anything other than cottage cheese. Even after four kids, I still struggle a lot with fear of being judged for my parenting choices, and I think that’s a very normal and real fear. We are judged by who we are as individuals by how the world sees us as parents–which isn’t always an accurate view of our whole parenting, anyway. So even though it’s hard, we really need to remind ourselves that parenting our children is about what’s best for them and no one else.
- “Bouncing back.”
Listen, mamas, I’m right there in the same boat as you, struggling with body image issues after baby. I want to feel good and I want to be proud of what I see in the mirror, too. Those don’t have to be mutually exclusive. But I’m so over beating my body up or criticizing how long it might take me to reach my goals. Health and fitness is a lifelong journey that is about loving our bodies. Trust me when I say that you will get where you want to be a lot faster if you practice positive thinking (no, “I’m hideous!” moments in your closet with your postpartum wardrobe allowed) instead of hating on the very normal changes that having a baby can bring.