Since I had my daughter many people asked me:
‘Do you think you were ready to have children?’— most of the time I tell them, no. I personally think you can never be ready to have children.
Everything changes and turns upside down when you welcome your first child into your life. This tiny human makes you feel love you’ve never known before, and you’re willing to do anything for them, even if that means giving up something of yourself.
It is honestly one of the hardest and most emotionally challenging thing I have ever done. I am not saying I don’t like it, or it’s not rewarding, but I think we can all agree, motherhood is not easy.
I also found this: it can be quite lonely. Until I started talking and hanging out with other moms I thought I was gonna go crazy. Not because I didn’t have old friends I could talk to, but I didn’t have mom friends, who have been exactly through the same things as me.
In a local mom group, a young mother asked what other moms thought was best advice for the first 12 months.
It didn’t sound like she was in distress or worried, but I thought the love and support you could read through the answers was really special.
Let me highlight my favourites:
"Swimming nappies are just to catch poop - that is all."
and another one:
"Take a year travel around the world alone and come back for your child birthday!!! Ah ah ah only joking! Enjoy the cuddles as much as you can, enjoy the closeness and these cosy days! They grow so quickly believe me! <3"
But jokes aside, out of the nearly 40 comments this mama got there were a few that seemed to be coming up the most.
Be gentle to yourself
Don't compare yourself or your baby
Follow YOUR INSTINCT
Sleep when your baby is sleeping
It is impossible to spoil your baby
'This too shall pass, it's only a phase'
When my daughter was only a few months old, and she just wouldn't sleep, I reached out in a local group for help. One kind mama ended up mailing me her favourite sleep book. In is she left a note that said: 'Simona, it will get better!'
I don't even think she knew how much that note meant for me, but every day when I felt exhausted I would just be looking at it, and I would instantly feel encouraged, because someone who was once in this situation says it will get better.
As I said earlier the post had over 30 comments so you can read the rest of the comments, tips and loving words here:
—Sleep when you can and get as many cuddles in whilst they are babies
—Follow your baby and be gentle on yourself
—Don't listen to the expectations of others. They're not important.
—Don't wake a sleeping baby!
—Take the year off from work if its financially possible
—The life will never be the same as before :)
—Just breathe it in.. the whole experience.. take time to literally just breathe it in. Goes so fast. Make peace with not getting much sleep for around 18months. Anything better is a bonus. Don't read too many books about raising children- so many conflicting opinions, trust your gut. Try get a group of moms who can support/advise/help you..
Just enjoy it! Xxx
—Do the way you feel and don't listen to anyone else. Breast or bottle, co sleeping or in her own crib, you just want to do what feels the best for you two. Also it goes VERY fast so even if you are not having all the fun right now it will be the blink of an eye before it gets better ! But yes do what YOU feel is good and I swear the joy is around the corner. I know some mamas are happy straight away and some struggle for a while but I found that up to 8/9 month it's so much better.
Look after yourself as well as baby. Be as present as you can - tune out the world - the days are slow but the years go fast. When it feels tough, be there for yourself (as you would for a friend). Accept help if offered. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Crack open champagne on baby’s first birthday - you made it!
—Don't compare yourself against other Mothers. Do whatever you feel like doing :) Nurture the relationship you have with your partner, that's actually what I feel is one of the top 5 things. Make that number 2. If you neglect each other, Divorce will loom. It's only always about the child ;) Get as much sleep as you can. Sleep when the baby does, sod the housework. No one ever goes to their grave wishing they did more hoovering. Sleep is the most important thing ever!
AH YES : and don't hesitate to delegate and let it go. hubby, in laws, baby sitter : take that time for yourself. And not to clean or catch up with your chores. A messy house won't kill anybody but a nice time with your friend or some good time might save you.
—Can't agree with this more :) Outsourcing... If possible hire a cleaning person, order food, have a babysitter or a friend/family member who can take care of a little one from time to time, and have a nice romantic dinner with your partner (or just so you can have a nap) :)
—Follow YOUR INSTINCT and ask for advice only to your partner and professionals. Every child is different, every experience is different. Even your mother or your best friend can only advise you based on their personal (and limited) experience. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCT AND BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
—Don’t take any advice ! But here I’m giving this advice 😂. Basically trust your gut! Every child, mother /father, family is different . What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other . And try to enjoy it. ☺️
—If in your wildest dreams you want another one .. start the work now .. once they grow older you will have your life back and you will go through this at once or else 10-15 years you will be doing the same running around babies ..
And yes breathe in and embrace it completely .. this will be the best days of your life. Never ever will anybody need or love you more .. ❤❤
—Don't worry, be happy! Despite what others say, it is not going to be easier... 1,2,3,4 years old are harder to manage than a newborn, so set a system to go on with your life - career, travels, hobby, sports.
—The baby is the enemy. (Before y’all kill me, I am serious:
I had a habit of quarrelling with hubs about the stupidest stuff, until we realised we were both just doing our best and it wasn’t the other adult but the babe we needed to “tackle”.)
—Smell their hair every day. Baby Sign Language and yea, don’t get divided from your partner, stick together!
Trust yourself to know your baby, and when things are right or wrong.
—Smile and nod at the consultatiebureau 😉
(I’m being unfair, they were lovely and helpful, but sometimes they can make you feel a bit inadequate).
—When things get challenging, telling yourself that "this too shall pass"..
—Advice from the consultatiebureau is only a suggestion. Don't take it personally if you get a bossy one.
—Don’t try to be a “super-mom” and do everything yourself and perfectly. Be quick to ask for help from partner, friends, parents and nannies and take breaks, even if they a short ones, for yourself and for you together with your partner. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so you need to keep recharging your energy and putting credit back into your relationship as you go along.
—They are all different, don't compare yourself or your baby too much to others, you will start to hear and revisit your own mother and childhood, this is not good or bad; learn, accept, forgive and laugh - yourself and your mother. Enjoy every blissful second of joy, move on when you get through the tough bits. Everything is a phase, good and bad. Any habits you notice you introduce, ask yourself how this will effect things in 6 months? 6 years? Stick to your routines and rules like glue, they are your friend. When you or your baby is sick, do what works, no rules. When you are better get back into your rhythm. All changes you inevitably introduce to your baby will generally need 4-7 days max to take on, so keep trying, your baby doesn't like change, but they will adapt. Don't rely on will power, reward yourself regularly, love yourself, and your partner, get into the habit of regularly acknowledging each other for good heroic deeds, ignore the bad, but hold each other to account with love and support, nobody is right, do what works. Everything you have is half chance, don't judge, love.
—Download the app WonderWeeks. And listen to the albums by Vered (available on Spotify).
—Love them, cuddle them, kiss them and tell them how happy they make you. Every day. It will help all of you to enjoy the process and to bond deeper every day and every week and every month. 💜
—Forget your phone. Switch off your tech and concentrate on looking at the best thing that’s ever happened to you.
And if you choose to breastfeed, join some Facebook groups on breastfeeding (preferably from recognised organisations), they contain so much knowledge and insights and support. One of the reasons I'm still able to breastfeed my 8 month old daughter. 😊
—You can look for advice BUT always decide based on what is good for you and your baby ! Also, don’t feel guilty ! If there was just one recipe to raise children, then the person would be billionaire 😛 And take time every day for moments with your baby just enjoying (no chores). It’s going so fast!
—Just love your baby and let your love dictate your choices, not anxious advisors worrying that you're spoiling your baby with love and attention. It is impossible to spoil your baby❤️
—Yes!! Don't ever let somebody tell you to not pick up or comfort your baby because you will spoil them. It's a basic need for them to feel safe and comfortable.
—My biggest advice is: you can't do it all, so ask for help/ reach out whenever you need, it's ok!!
- be gentle with yourself;
- you're never holding your baby too much, if want to do it, just do it (babies love cuddles);
- chores can wait: if people are unhappy about that, they can do them (once you say that, you won't hear them complain anymore! 😁);
- join a group of mums who have babies of the same age (there's one in Amsterdam), this way you'll meet people you can share your frustrations with, you'll realise you're not the only one having a hard time and it's a nice way to have a social life (this was a life-saver for me!!).
Good luck and enjoy the ride (it's exhausting but so worth it!!) 😘
—Many wise moms in this group have already spelled out very useful tips above. I just want to emphasise few. when it gets tough try to remember: Everything is a phase.
Every child is unique and different and so are moms.
Comparison is the mind-killer ( and also the mood-killer!).
Have a photo shoot as a family. Take maternity + parental leave as long as you can. ❤️
—Don’t forget yourself
—You are still the same person. You are not the most important to yourself anymore, which feels weird and self-effacing at first, but you are there, beneath the exhaustion, the sleepless nights, the concerns, the boredom, the routine, and nothing will remind you of that just as much as that little person that's made you feel like she'd stolen it from you. Just wait and see.
—Don’t give up on your belief that you are a capable and loving mother. Never compare or be jealous of another family (you can’t compare their outsides to your insides). You will lose your temper and be capable of producing emotion you never thought possible, just breath, walk away and know that baby doesn’t cry/not sleep just to make your life hell, they are just trying to communicate. Accept help from everyone you are close with, that offers. Go outside more. Enjoy the moments that are yours and yours only (breastfeeding, snuggles, connection, touch) ❤️
—Trust yourself and your instincts - you have a special bond to your child and whatever anyone says, you know what's best for your child. I would have loved if someone told me to have less doubt and trust my instincts more.
—Get sleep 😂
—Sod everything else: they grow up too quickly- film them A LOT; cuddle, love thats all that matters. I wish I could have seen beyond the tiredness and just enjoy every moment. Even crap moments.
—The main thing I wish I’d done more was to go easy on myself and give myself space and time to enjoy it. I was worried about money and taking time off from work, but I wish that I had taken more time off in the end. And asked for more help from those around me when I needed it. My other suggestion is to write down important milestones in your baby’s development when they happen because you WILL forget! And it’s nice to be able to say when they took first steps, what the first words were, and what food they liked first, plus funny baby things that happen. Although it’s stressful and exhausting, try to relax into the moments of bliss.
Repeating the phrase 'this too shall pass' when feeling down.
Also, put yourself within the top 3 priorities. If you feel down and need a rest, leaving the baby with the father and going to the hairdresser or for a walk alone, it is a good thing. Dishes and any type of cleaning can wait. Involve the father from the beginning. It is nice for them to be part and not excluded from the miracle unfolding in your household, and can be useful to have someone you trust 300% on doing stuff for the kid.
—Self care. Self care. Self care. Sending you love
—Don't think you are in a bad relationship, things will get a bit crazy for both of you and then things will get better <3 I know you don't believe me now but wait and see you will think your partner sucks at some point.
Oh, and I wish someone had told me about baby growth spurts! At 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 3 months. I was breastfeeding and these took me totally by surprise. Your child will seems suddenly insatiable, and will want to nurse almost constantly! I was unprepared and wiped out by those.
—The first year, is an emotional roller coaster. You have this tiny little person, who you created & grew inside your body. And that's all this tiny being knows, your heartbeat & your body. And it is still you! You will be different. You will be fierce. You will have a limited threshold for nonsense. You will incredibly weak moments & super strong ones. But this is ALL you. The first year will fly away so quickly that u probably won't have time to process it... Take pictures everyday, cherish all the moments.. And don't over schedule. If your baby's sleep cycle means mornings aren't working, plan appointments & stuff for afternoon. It isn't complicated. Cut yourself slack. Order in menu meals couple times a month. Make friends with your freezer, slow cooker, instant pot. Make sure your partner helps out in the kitchen, or run errands... Things may or may not work out perfectly, but there will be perfect moments❤️❤️ good-luck.
—Make friends with other moms who are going through the same thing! Try to plan something with them and the kids and without the kids when you can. My best friends here are people I can comfortably talk about child-rearing with and not feel ashamed. We all knew each other through all the tough times, too.
—Find a routine and schedule that works for your kid (it might not be what works for you) and stick to it. Having a routine keeps babies relaxed because they know what to expect, they don't get overexcited and exhausted, and allow you to schedule time for your and your husbands activities (which will probably be sleeping and laundry but still ;) ) Ah! And sleep while the baby sleeps. And the most important one, accept that you won't be perfect, and that's ok.
—Best advice I ever got, it's just a phase. Whatever is happening, just roll with it as in 1 week it'll be different 💕
—Be aware of the 'ghosts in the nursery'. Being a mother will bring up a lot of things of your childhood. Sometimes you won't know why something upsets you, then you realise this was something you really disliked about your own parents, or your own childhood.
For me the biggest eye opener as a mom was that I am not alone, things I am feeling and experiencing are normal, and nobody is perfect.
I will still try every single day to do my best, it will not be perfect, but good enough!
That is also why I was inspired to start my new project 10 days of (im)perfect, to inspire and show other moms, that no mom is perfect, and we’re all doing our best which in our eyes might be imperfect, but that’s what makes it perfect!
Thank you for reading, please share with other moms, who you think need some warm words and love, and feel free to download the photo below.
Sending you all a hug.