This week was my first Mother’s Day as a mama of two! I am so thankful for my babies, who made me a mama and add so much happiness to our lives. When I actually think about the fact that it is my job to raise these little humans and help them develop into kind and good people, I realize what an enormous responsibility and privilege it is to be their mama.
When I meet someone who is a mom, I feel like I know a little bit more about her. I know that she has had many sleepless nights, feeding her baby every few hours and counting every ounce of weight gain. I know that she can probably recite Five Little Monkeys from memory. I know that her life was turned upside down when she brought this new soul into the world and slowly the pieces came back together in a new shape. I also know that she is a superb multi-tasker. It makes me have a newfound respect for these women, who went through unimaginable changes to bring their babies into this world. I also have a lot of respect for the dads but more on that in another post.
This Mother’s Day, I started to think about my own journey as a mother. I think you can only truly reflect and gain some perspective once a certain amount of time goes by. Here are some things I’ve learned in my first 20 months of motherhood and the beginnings of life as a mama of two!
\\ Don’t forget about your significant other//
It’s natural to want to focus on your child only and think they are the main priority but there was a time when it was you and your husband. Before we had kids, J and I promised that we would always keep each other a priority. I think keeping this in mind helps us have a happier marriage and our kids end up growing up in a positive and loving environment.
One way we try to do this is by keeping the spark alive and finding inexpensive ways to make each other smile everyday. We have a little waterproof notebook on the shower wall that we use to write quick notes to each other. I try to write mine so he sees it in the morning before he goes to work. The first thing I do before I brush my teeth in the morning is check and see if there is a note for me. It’s a fun way to start the day and makes me feel special to get something back and know he was thinking about me at 5am (before he’s even had coffee!).
We also text teach other throughout the day with random updates. If we get busy and don’t get a chance to text, it feels like something is missing because it’s such a routine part of our day. These are such simple things but I know it puts a smile on his face.
\\ Sleep train as soon as possible //
Sometimes I ask myself, will I ever sleep again? Then I remember that J and I went through this with our daughter and eventually we were able to get a full nights rest again. No one can truly prepare you for how you’ll deal with zero hours of sleep but for me personally, it makes me cranky and stressed. Add that to the fact that new moms are already super emotional, hormonal, sore and physically drained and it amounts to chaos.
One of the best things we did with our daughter was move her to her own room at six weeks old and by twelve weeks, she was sleeping through the night. We also took the advice of countless other moms who recommended using a sound machine for naps and bedtime. The white noise is a life saver! I thought it was loud and irritating when we first turned it on but now it’s just part of our background noise. It mimics the loud noise your baby is surrounded by in the womb and makes them more comfortable, plus it drowns out other sounds in the house, like squeaking floor boards.
A friend told me about Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old: A Step-by-Step Plan for Baby Sleep Success, by Suzy Giordano, and it made all the difference. I now recommend it to all of my new mom friends because it worked and when our daughter started sleeping through the night, it was a turning point for us. Suddenly, the future looked brighter and we felt like we could (somewhat) handle things.
Everyone has their own opinions on how to sleep train so whichever method you go with, do it as soon as possible so both you and your child can sleep through the night. It changes everything! I’m currently eagerly waiting for Dylan to be six weeks old so we can start sleep training him!
\\ Don’t judge other moms (or dads) //
Everyone has their own methods and it could be completely different from yours but all the parental judgment is distracting and unnecessary. Whether someone works full time or stays home, uses daycare or a nanny, breastfeeds or uses formula, buys packaged baby food or makes their own, or uses disposable diapers versus resusable, to each his own! The list goes on.
There are so many things that parents judge each other for but I think being a parent is so hard and you are constantly being challenged. Any additional challenges are unwelcome.
\\ Be as chill as you can //
I’ve always felt that chill moms have chill babies. Babies can sense how you’re feeling so if you’re high strung and constantly stressing, your baby will be too. When the kids are sleeping, we make the same amount of niose we always do, listen to music, talk in a normal voice, and don’t go crazy with any restrictions. We don’t keep anyone from calling the house line (yes, we still have a house line) either.
One of the best pieces of advice I received was to have your kids adhere to your schedule and way of life and not the other way around. Although Perry has consistent nap times and meals for everyone’s sanity, we have always continued to go out to restaurants with her, go on vacations, and listen to our music. Now we have a newborn so we may need to shake things up a bit but I’m hoping to continue with the status quo.
\\ Meet other moms and dads in the neighborhood //
Being at home all day figuring out how to be a mama can be so isolating. Meeting other parents in the neighborhood allowed me to connect with those that were going through the same things I was or if their kids were older, had been there and knew where I was coming from. Making new friends is so natural in college but as adults with kids, we have different priorities and long to-do lists so it’s not easy to form lasting friendships. Meeting moms for coffee, at baby classes or at the park didn’t feel forced and allowed me to become friends with some pretty fantastic people.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day. All the mamas in my life are so amazing, especially mine!