A year is a long time, especially when you think of it in terms of days. 365 days is a lot of days. My daughter is a year old now and the last 365 days have been so different from any previous set of 365. So what have I learned about raising a baby in that time? I guess this is the “wisdom” I’d like to pass on to other new moms. (And I’ll probably feel like a new mom forever…)
Some of the best purchases I’ve made have been things to make the stay-at-home-momming a little easier or convenient for me. A hand vacuum. I vacuum my carpets almost everyday but my daughter leaves crumbs everywhere she goes some days because she loves cheese crackers shaped like fishies. You’d think they’re mess-free because they’re bite-sized. You’d be wrong. Sometimes I feel like I just follow her around with a clean rag and the hand vac. A super lightweight but still super firm crib mattress. Because changing baby sheets in a crib, especially when you’ve lowered it down a few settings is hard enough on your back but our mattress weighs next to nothing so that helps a great deal. (Also, we got two waterproof mattress pads and we have made her crib three times all at once! Shazam! Rip off one layer and throw it in the hamper and there’s a clean dry layer ready to go!!) A food pouch filler thingy. Because my daughter detests eating in her high chair and feeding her via pouch has been a lifesaver but I wanted to make her food too. (I also put tubs of baby food in pouches sometimes too.) Really good laundry stain remover. Because motherhood means your laundry multiplies by like, a thousand. And the babies outgrow clothes quickly but they also spit up purple and red and green foods on their super cute clothes. Might as well try to get the stains out.
There will be some days you are SO on top of this mom gig. You will make all meals and snacks lovingly by hand. (And they will be the perfect blend of healthy and tasty!) You will sing songs and dance dances and the puppet shows with their stuffed animals will be creative and educational and there shall be no mention of television to ruin their attention span. Nothing will cause a temper flare. It will all be sunshine and daisies and rainbows. And then there will be days where it all goes wrong. So wrong. Wronger than wrong. You’re sure this is the day that will cause them to need therapy in later life. Just think of it this way. A year goes by quickly. A day goes by slowly. On the bad days, do what you can to get through until bedtime, then start over tomorrow. Tomorrow is a magical place with the potential for greatness. For me, learning to accept that my life had to slow down was difficult and I’m still working that out. I found that if I had nothing to do on a particular day with my baby, it would draaaaaag by and feel a million times longer. Now my daughter is more active and that helps the time feel faster when we have nothing to do but slow days still intimidate me. Just remember that tomorrow is another day and it is easy to start clean and fresh.
There are so many ways to mom. What works for one mom and her family won’t necessarily work for you and yours. Many people say that when you become a mom, “you’ll just know” how to mom. It just comes to you. Well. That isn’t the case for every mom and this whole momming thing intimidates us all at some point. In my opinion, what they mean is that you may not know all the answers and skills, but you’ll get a TON of advice and you will probably know which advice you’ll try and which just isn’t right for you. For me, I’m a big believer that both you AND your baby have to be ready for the next stage of whatever you’re getting advice about. You were told that you should be giving your baby solid foods now but you’re not ready to start that? What will work best for your family won’t work at all if you’re conflicted. Parenting is a lot of guesswork, to be honest. My daughter can’t really tell me in so many words when something is wrong. So, I guess the reasons she is crying. Is it because she’s hungry? In pain? Lonely? Wants attention? Who knows? I’ll just try things until I figure it out. Sometimes I get it on the first try and sometimes it takes longer. But they say that “you’ll just know” because you probably spend the most time with your kid, so you will know them best. Doctors know babies but YOU know YOUR baby. For instance, my daughter recently had an ear infection and I took her to see her doctor. I was clued into her ailment because she was unusually intensely cuddly. Now that she’s walking and climbing all the things, she rarely wants to be held and cuddled, but that day, she refused to be put down and she would bury her head in my neck. The doctor even said that most babies with ear infections are inconsolable and loud and that’s how they let you know they’re in pain. Well. My baby acted differently through her pain and I know that because I know her best.
Ok. My next advice is to read up on the developmental undertakings your baby will go through. It helps to sort of put yourself in their mindset a bit. As an adult, it can be frustrating to have a baby around who does nothing but cry for a while. But find out what they’re going through mentally and physically and hopefully, that’ll help you to help them. It is a big deal to go from womb to world. There are SO MANY things going on in the first year for them and it is all so hard to adjust to. Keep in mind that they are helpless for a long time. They rely on you for everything, even movement. You’re capable of leaving their field of vision. Logically, you know you’re going to the kitchen to get some food for them, but they have no idea what that means But remember that things that are easy no-brainers for you are huge steps for a baby or a kid. For example, the first time they pick up an object with their left hand and put it into their right hand is a milestone.
My last advice is to really consider what YOU need to be happy. A happy mommy is a better mommy. For me, I’m a mom who needs a shower everyday. I may only just stand there for five minutes letting water run over me, but it helps me wake up and feel refreshed. The showers where I actually wash my hair and shave are pure heaven! But I know this about myself: a clean me is a happy me. (And by extension, a happy me is a better mommy.) So find out those little things that make you happy and peaceful. Also, I find that a clean house makes me feel better. That is hard to maintain with a child who doesn’t understand messes. So I finally decided to have a house cleaner once a month. My daily chores just aren’t enough to keep up with the deep cleaning (bathroom floor corners anyone?!?!) that needs to be done and I’m exhausted at the end of most days so daily chores are about all I can handle. I understand that I’m very fortunate to be able to have the paid help. And I don’t expect this help forever, I mean, help with chores is like, why we had kids!! 😊 But looking around at my cluttered dirty house was making me feel cluttered and messy on the inside if that makes sense.
So yeah, that’s a year’s worth of parenting advice from this new mom. Well, except for one more thing. Don’t let the mom shamers get to you. You’re killing it! I’m so tired of people judging moms harshly for the choices they made. Do you breastfeed or formula feed? Who cares? Your child is getting the nourishment they need!! Do you work or stay at home? That is a choice for you and your family and only you can say what’s best and there is no need to compare who has it hardest!! Just do you and ignore the trolls! #SupportTheMamas