I’ve gotten this reputation lately as possibly being someone who might actually have some facts about motherhood figured out because I have four kids.
Isn’t it funny how the more kids you have, the more people think you know because they assume you have so much more experience than them? I tend to think people with less children than me have the elusive “it” all figured out because they are clicking right along and being all happy-go-lucky with their full-night’s sleep and one load of laundry a day selves. Me, I’m still trying to find my keys and thinking about washing the crock-pot from two days ago that’s still in the sink.
But you know, I believe that if anyone thinks I know anything about this journey, they think that because of where I am now. Which is in a place where I understand that no one ever has it together all of the time
So whether you’re a first time mama or a mama like me who still felt like a first time mama every time another baby was laid all sticky and squalling on my chest, this is for you. Some thoughts and tips I’ve gleaned from four times of bleary eyes and sleepless nights and early precious moments.
1. You will sleep again. Somewhere in between the newborn nighttime feedings and the toddler bed-wetting and the six-year growing pains, you will sleep. It will happen. Maybe it won’t be soon enough. Maybe it won’t be often enough. Maybe it won’t be constant. But you will sleep. I promise.
2. You need to take a shower. How water. Fruity or spicy or just clean smelling soap. A few minutes of quiet in a place where you can’t hear the baby cry. Five minutes is long enough to make you feel better, and sometimes this is an even better than a nap.
3. You will feel better if you get dressed. I know, that seems counter-productive. You only have so much time and I just told you to take a shower and get dressed. But it works, I swear. Something about real clothes and earrings and a hairbrush will help you start to feel normal and just slightly less sleep-deprived.
4. You shouldn’t feel guilty about asking for help. Don’t be a martyr. We weren’t meant to do this alone. It’s okay to ask for help. People want to help you. Well, they want to hold that new baby and they’re usually willing to fold a basket of laundry in exchange.
5. You can let babies sleep somewhere other than a crib. I’m not looking for an argument here about the best sleep patterns. I’m just being real with you. My last two spent the first three months of their lives sleeping in a swing. Both had sinus and reflux problems that meant sleeping flat was misery for them and for me. You reach a point where you need to sleep for at least a four hour chunk and if you can get that by putting baby somewhere other than his bed, do it and don’t stress. Gus sleeps in his bed now and has been there for almost five months. It’s a short term fix that won’t hurt anyone in the long run.
6. You don’t have to have everything done your way. When I have a baby, my mom stays for at least a week. She cooks incredible meals to make me produce lots of breastmilk, brews more coffee than we drink in a month, washes all the dishes every night, and folds my husband’s socks wrong. Who cares? She has a way and most of my ways are hers (learned behavior, you know), but if she does something differently than me, guess what? It’s still done and I didn’t have to do it.
7. You can survive on frozen pizza and Stouffers. Once the meal train stops and the cashier at Chic-fil-a knows you by name, you can opt for the ease of frozen casseroles in the oven. Not only is that simple, look at you, you made dinner!
8. You won’t be a packmule for more than a couple of months. You know how to spot a new mom? The size of her diaper bag. But take heart, you might feel like you have to take everything so you’re prepared for anything, but eventually you will discover the few things that are necessary and embrace the small crossover bag. Or just toss a diaper in your purse and be on your way!
9. You can leave the baby and you’re not a bad mom. When Gus was about two weeks old, I left him with his daddy and went to the salon by myself and got a shampoo and cut. It was heaven. When I came back home, I not only felt better physically, I felt better mentally and could once again cope. So if you have someone you trust, even if it’s just for an hour, even if it’s just to go buy diapers, leave and know you’ll come back a better mom for it.
10. You might think everyone else is doing motherhood better than you, but that’s not true. You were meant to mother this child. Just you. No one else. So what everyone else is doing is what works for them, you do what works for you. I promise, somewhere somebody thinks you’re the one who has it together because you really do.
Linking up with Many Little Blessings.