When I became a mom for the first time, there were a lot of surprises. Some of my plans and expectations had to be thrown out the window once I gave birth to my son, and I discovered that many of the rules I thought were carved in stone didn’t apply to our family. There was definitely a learning curve!
Here are 10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Became a Mommy
10. Dirt isn’t as repulsive as I thought.
Get a good detergent and carry baby wipes with you. I was not much of a germ freak to begin with, but any of those tendencies I did have vanished when I had a baby. Pacifier falls on the ground? Swish a little of your own spit on it and give it back to the baby, then everyone is happy again! Kids will find messes to make and, despite your best efforts to deter it, playing in the mud is actually pretty fun, so get in there and play with them from time to time. Your kids will think you are the coolest mom ever!
9. You’ll find yourself putting together sentences you never knew needed to be said, let alone said repeatedly…daily.
Our family’s current favorite is “Sit on your bottom.” If I had a nickel for every time I said this JUST LAST WEEK, we would be rich! “Don’t chew on the power cord” and “DO NOT put your finger in the electrical outlet” are repeat offenders in this house as well. The baby proofing books say to crawl around from a baby’s perspective and look for safety hazards, but the things my son has thought up were so far outside the realm of my imagination that this exercise would have been fruitless for us. So, designate a notebook or start a log on your computer, because the things children think of will keep you guessing — and laughing!
8. Sometimes it’s better to teach a baby to climb the stairs safely than to freak out every time he gets close to them.
A friend at church told me this fabulous tip and it has extended into so many aspects of our lives. She said that when each of her kids started to notice the stairs, her husband just started working with them to teach them to go down the stairs without getting hurt. It took a few weeks, but her kids all mastered the stairs at really young ages and they never had a fall. So far we have followed in their footsteps! We also applied this philosophy when we moved our 12-month-old into our new home with a limestone fireplace in the kitchen. Some things you just cannot keep out of sight, so teach your kiddos to be around them safely.
7. Sleep is a beautiful thing.
Everyone always said “sleep when baby sleeps” and I rolled my eyes EVERY SINGLE TIME. Babies sleep a lot. In addition to sleeping, someone had to get food into our home, put something edible on the table, and provide clean underwear for the rest of the family. That said, take a nap when you need one. My AWESOME husband reminds me frequently that Mom is allowed to nap too. Give yourself that permission; a well rested mom is always better than a tired one!
6. Do what works.
You can read all the books, consult all the experts, and formulate the greatest plans for parenthood, but at the end of the day, it may not work. You will need to first evaluate your new pragmatic plan with wisdom and safety in mind, but if your out-of-the-box idea passes those tests and works for your family, do what you need to do.
5. Showers are negotiable.
This is the time in life to sport a sweet hat or scarf. And when you do have time for more than a 5 minutes scrub, savor it! I personally enjoy standing in the shower until the hot water runs out (from time to time), so I find a way to make this happen, even if it means waiting until after the kiddo is in bed.
4. Sign language is incredible.
YouTube has a wealth of resources to teach you so then you can teach your child. Before your child has the verbal skills to communicate basic things like “I’m hungry,” “more,” “all done,” and “milk,” he has the ability to express his feelings and desires with sign language. We started teaching it to our son the day we started solid food and feel like it was a worthwhile investment of our time. (It did take a while and required lots of repetition, but the end result was WELL WORTH that extra effort!). Communication through sign language is always better than a toddler meltdown!
3. Not everything about motherhood comes naturally.
The elephant in the room here is definitely nursing. So many women, even after seeking out every avenue for help they can find, just do not have an easy time of it when it comes to nursing. Even when things were working, I found myself wondering if this was right or not. For some, nursing is a cinch, but there is no reason to feel ashamed if it does not “feel” natural or easy.
There’s also this mom instinct thing everyone is supposed to have at the moment their firstborn exits the birth canal. Babies do not come with a manual. Some moms have a natural ‘mom’ instinct, but others do not. It is normal for new moms to wonder if waiting a few hours, calling the doctor, or rushing to the Emergency Room would be best. Instead of relying solely on your instincts, making a phone call is always a good idea when you are in doubt because it will give you confidence that you made the right decision.
2. My husband is a better teammate than I ever imagined.
I met my husband while working at a summer church camp, so there was no doubt in my mind he would be a great dad. He knew how to have fun and keep everyone safe (and looked good doing it!). Despite three summers of seeing him in that capacity, I had no idea how amazing he would be with our own child. His ability to take care of me and our son was even more wonderful than I imagined. Dads are pretty awesome and my husband has continued to impress me as we have watched our son grow from what we call maintenance mode (feed, clothe, diaper, and soothe) to the new adventures of toddlerhood.
1. Watching your baby will be your favorite thing for a while.
Watching that sweet little person you carried for 40 weeks grow and develop is a miracle. Every. Day. The reality that we all started off as a microscopic sperm and egg and turned into walking, taking cuties is astounding to me. Take time to marvel. Much of my newborn’s life was spent staring and ogling over how amazing he is. It is okay to stop and soak it in — time will keep marching on whether you want it to or not, so enjoy each second that you can!
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