A Practical Guide to Your First Year of Motherhood

Be gentle on yourself. Motherhood is already challenging and draining enough to add constant self criticism and mom-guilt on top of it. Yes, it is harder said than done — but it is imperative to remind yourself that your best IS good enough and always will be. Take a deep breath mama, you’ve got this.

Have a morning routine. The first few months of motherhood I did not even get to brush my teeth some mornings. It made me feel out of my skin, unattractive, and just “off”. Even if it is only five minutes long, do something to start your day feeling good. My routine includes starting my morning cup of joe, brushing my teeth, and spraying some Dear Self revitalizing facial mist on my face.

Reach out to other moms. I now realize that baby classes/groups for little ones under 1 are more for the moms than the kids. Moms need each other. We are tribal creatures. Friends are wonderful but there is something priceless and vital about having another woman in your life who knows exactly what you are going through. Don’t have any fellow moms in your social circle? Peanut is an app where you can meet local moms.

Date night, date morning, date “15”. Your baby does best when he or she’s parents are in a healthy and loving relationship. That means quality time to be the couple you were pre-baby. Sometimes waiting for the opportunity to have a full-on date night can take too long. Even a 15-minute walk or a quick errand to pick up coffee together while someone you trust makes sure the little one doesn’t destroy the house — does wonders for reconnection.

Less stuff. If you are anything like me, your house is completely “decorated” with diapers, wipes, onesies, and toys. This clutter does not help anyone’s mental health — especially if you are a SAHM. Donate toys that your baby no longer plays with (save the select few that spark joy for the next baby). Keep toys exciting by bringing them out in rotation rather than all out at once. Lastly, remember that babies don’t need a lot of things (my son’s favorite toy is an empty water jug).

Ask for hand-me-downs. I was lucky enough to receive secondhand clothing from one of my fellow mamas whose son is six months older than mine. Babies wear clothes for such a short duration that buying them brand new is not practical. Most baby and children’s clothing ends up in a landfill somewhere when it can be reworn by another baby or two. Note: wash hand me downs on your hottest cycle with some free and clear and they are as good as new.

Say goodbye to travel/visiting obligations. You have a little one — that means everyone can come to you. You are not required nor should you feel obligated to do any extensive travel. If you do desire to travel with your little one, that’s your prerogative. Do not let anyone make you feel guilty for keeping it simple and easy — including yourself!

“I’ll have what she’s having!”. The food my son enjoys most is whatever food is on my plate. I taste test everything I cook for him and if I don’t think it tastes good, why would he? Because of this, I end up eating cleaner and healthier too while my son expands his culinary palate. This makes for less clean up and wasted food. My son also hates eating from his high chair most of the time so I feed him on his play mat or while he’s walking around in his play yard. No need to over complicate things in life. This baby recipe book has been my go-to.

Breathe. Sometimes I want to pull my hair out of my head, lock myself in my bathroom, and scream my lungs out. That’s motherhood sometimes for you. But I can’t do that. Instead, I just stop whatever I’m doing, take a deep breath, and let my brain absorb the oxygen fully. It sounds simple — and even silly, but it works.

Girl time! After date night, girl time is second most important for a healthy mind and spirit. A couple of times a month, my partner will watch our son for a few hours while I grab breakfast or drinks with a close girlfriend. I always feel rejuvenated when I come back home. Feeling like a normal person is so important for parents. Get dressed up. Put on some makeup. Get out there.

Let the advice roll off your back. Like almost all mamas, I’ve received plenty of unsolicited advice. I knew it was coming but it is hard not to feel annoyed when you feel like you are already doing the best you can without falling apart. But if something is going to happen regardless, what needs to change is your perspective. I view all unsolicited advice as people either projecting or trying to share with me what they wish they knew when they had a baby.

Breastfeed on your terms. I exclusively breastfed my son for 12 months (still going strong!). Not everyone understands or agrees with this but they aren’t me nor are they my son. I could care less. I don’t even look for people’s facial reactions when I breastfeed in public. A moms got to do what a moms got to do. Also, if you choose never to breastfeed, to strictly pump, or to switch to formula after a few weeks or months — do not apologize or explain yourself to anyone. It’s true that breast is best but not at the expense of mom’s well being.

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