The problem with parenting experts
So I started writing this blog because I feel like I have a ton of advice to give. I love giving advice. Seriously. Maybe it’s because I love to teach people. Maybe it’s because I find happiness in helping others, especially mamas. Maybe it’s because I just like to hear myself talk? I don’t know. But I do know I happily dish out advice to anyone who will listen. Here’s the thing though. I’m no expert on parenting. I mean I have three kids. I’ve read a ton about all things parenting and education related. But I don’t think one can be an expert on parenting nor would I ever claim to be an expert on parenting. I think you can be an expert on trying to be the best possible parent. You can be an expert learner of new information. But you cannot be an expert on parenting because it’s ALWAYS changing. So yes, you may become an expert on having a two year old, but then guess what? Your two year old turns three (which is a beast of an age–but please reference my recent post about reframing our perception) and now you’re royally screwed because you aren’t an expert on having a three year old….or you have one kid, and you’re killing it. Then kid two comes along and it’s all over.
We ALL struggle
Over the past few weeks I have been trolling moms groups. Reading posts (sometimes responding) and just trying to get a better feel for what other moms, especially newer moms, are struggling with. And honestly, what I’m seeing makes me pretty sad. I see so many mamas posting about feeling anxious, ashamed, overwhelmed, or not confident about their abilities as a parent. It isn’t always an overt expression of these feelings. It often comes out subtly–in the way they phrase a question or how they caveat their post with “please excuse the messy couch in the background.” It makes my heart hurt.
Top 5 pieces of advice for new mamas
Vocalize your accomplishments
One of the best things I did as a new mom was tell myself something I did well every single day for the first few months. Sometimes I was literally like “I made time to brush my teeth today!! Whoop!” and sometimes it was a little more deep. I had to talk myself up because after the first few weeks of maternity leave, there wasn’t that constant support of people cheering you on or lending a helping hand. **And I FULLY recognize that many people don’t even have that. If that rings true to you, and you’re still keeping on with a smile on your face then you are a better mom than I am….I don’t know what I would do without the help that I have–so you all are the real rockstars**
Take a freaking shower and a nap
Seriously. Let someone hold the baby for a few minutes or bring the little baby bouncer and stick it on the floor in the bathroom while you shower (we love the BABYBJORN bouncer for it’s slim footprint and portability). Let the sink sit full of dirty dishes while you take a nap. I know it’s hard. You feel like you have to do all the things, but you don’t. And the people that care about you won’t give two about the way your house looks.
Accept that you’re going to hate your significant other for a while
I’m talking loathe. Like you’ll be nursing at night, while staring at your sleeping partner, and be secretly plotting how to suffocate them with your pillow. It’s NORMAL. It’s hormones. I mean unless you actually hate your significant other, that’s a whole different story. Express your feelings to other mamas and I can guarantee they will chime in with all the ways they have plotted the death of their loved one. It passes. Mostly. I advise you pick up a book called How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids— it’s a game changer.
Don’t feel guilty about being constantly annoyed at your pet
This is one you may not have heard but it happens (and I know other moms who have experienced this). You just have such little capacity to be touched or needed from anyone other than your little one. Your dog being underfoot in the kitchen when you’re trying to make a simple meal for yourself (maybe your only meal of the day), or needing to go out right when you have just sat down after standing and rocking the baby for an hour, or barking and waking you up JUST as you’re falling asleep for a nap (and you know you only have 45 minutes or less before baby wakes up). All these things can drive you up the wall. Again, normal. Give yourself some grace and ask for help in caring for anything and everything that isn’t your new baby.
Recognize signs of PPA and PPD
This is a big one. I see so many mamas posting stuff in moms groups that screams that they are dealing with postpartum anxiety or depression. It’s so common and there are so many ways it can present itself. For example, with my first I started using an app to track all his feedings, and diapers, and sleep. I remember sitting up at night nursing him while simultaneously trying to type information into this app. It was ridiculous. I should have been enjoying my baby and observing him for cues and instead I was hyper focused on getting it all down to a science. It wasn’t until a friend mentioned that she had to stop using the tracker because it was giving her anxiety that I realized, holy this is causing way more anxiety than it should be. My advice is to RELAX and observe your baby–follow their cues. You will KNOW when your baby is hungry, you don’t need an app to tell you that. Here’s the thing. If you find it hard to relax about anything, then you need to talk to your doctor. Some of it is just first time mom nervousness, but when someone points out that you’re driving yourself crazy doing something and you can’t stop even though you know it’s not healthy, that’s a sign you need to speak with your doctor. I struggled with PPA and PPD without recognizing it, even though I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder a long time ago, so please just be aware of your mental health and check in with someone. Keep in mind not all doctors are on board, and some may try to tell you it just baby blues from your hormones (which definitely could be the case), or that you’re just anxious because you’re a mom and that comes with the territory (I actually had a doctor say this….) so make sure you get a second opinion, reach out to other moms, or flat out ask for a referral to a mental health professional if you need to. ALWAYS feel free to reach out to me here or on social media if you need to vent, rant, ask for help, cry, whatever…. I’m here and available to support you.