06 May 2016

25 Lessons I've Learned Since Becoming a Mom

This Sunday is Mother’s Day.

In many ways it feels just like yesterday that Maddy was placed in my arms, making me a mother. In many other ways, it seems like the time has drug on, and on and on. In the wee hours of the morning when you're up with a screaming baby it feels like those long days and nights are never going to end, but a new day comes with a fresh perspective and a renewed will to move forward and before you know it, you've blinked and the years have flown by.

Preparing for my fourth Mother’s Day has given me a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the last four years of being a mom. I've learned a lot about myself during this time; my strengths, weaknesses and the kind of woman and mother I want to be. Some of my memories are great. Some, not so hot, but they've all made me the woman I am today and helped to mold me for the mom I want to be. 

25 Lessons I've Learned Since Becoming a Mom.  #Mothers #MothersDay #Parenting

1 | Don't be afraid to ask for help, especially in those first few weeks and months. Don't try to be the hero. Just ask for help.

2 | Take time away from your child; date nights, "me time" & girls' night goes a long way.

3 | Not breast feeding isn't the end of the world. I know it doesn’t feel this way when you’re in the thick of having to decide whether or not to do it or when you come to the realization that you can’t do it (like me), but trust me – your child’s worth, health and overall happiness and success won’t be determined by what does or doesn’t come from your boobs. Don't ever let anyone make you feel bad for choosing not to do it. 

4 | Don't forget about your spouse/partner & find ways to make them feel special. They are adjusting to parenthood too and need the same support us moms need - sometimes more.

5 | Laugh often and mostly, at yourself.

6 | If you have to work, find a day care you, but more importantly, your child loves. It will give you peace of mind while you're away during the day and a great center is worth their weight in gold.

7 | Live with less. It is amazing how little "stuff" a baby really needs and there is no need to go into debt for things that are temporary and will be outgrown/out-used before you know it.

8 | Be honest about your emotions & mental state post baby. I live with depression on a daily basis but suffered from severe post-partum depression a few months after Madeline was born and needed help with additional medication and therapy. There is no shame in asking/needing/wanting help.

9 | Follow the old adage, "Sleep when the baby sleeps." I did the complete opposite as a new mom because I felt like I had to keep all the balls in the air at all times and it did nothing to help with anything - especially #8 above. There will always be laundry and housework to do so let it be. Or better yet - refer back to #1 and ask for help.

10 | Follow your gut and intuition. Many people will have an opinion of how you should be taking care of your child but only you know what is best for you and your baby. It isn't called "Mother's Intuition" for nothing.

11 | Get out of the house. It's easy to get cooked up in the house those first few weeks after bringing baby home but a breath of fresh air goes a long way in clearing your mind and soothing your soul and spirits.

12 | Learn the battles that are worth fighting with your child and the things that are worth letting go of. Just as with adults, not every battle is worth fighting and some things are better left alone. 

13 | Remember you. Do your best to keep up with hobbies and the things you enjoy doing outside of your child. Yes - our children are the priority but in order to be our best selves for them, we need the time and opportunity to remember who our best selves are without our kiddos. It is okay to be selfish with ourselves and our time every now and again.

14 | Learn to let go and let your spouse/partner take over. If you're a control freak like me this will be hard to do at first but in the end, you can't carry everything by yourself. It doesn't matter if the laundry isn't done the way you like or if the kitchen isn't cleaned to your liking. The point is - it's done. You don't have to worry about doing it. Be appreciative and move on.

15 | Say you're sorry and do it often, even if you are not in the wrong. I can't stress enough how important this one is especially for new parents. It is easy for two sleep deprived people to become easily agitated and lash out for reason or no reason at all. Keep your perspective about the big picture and just say you're sorry. It will go much further in mending fences than anything else you do in your relationship.

16 | Learn to say "No" more. You don't have to be everything to everyone.

17 | Find a good set of mom/parent friends. As much as you like to think that your new baby won't hinder your relationship with friends who aren't parents, it will. It is the truth and it's the reality of becoming parents. The bigger reality is that they will have no clue {to no fault of their own} on how to fit in with your new lifestyle. You don't have to lose these friends but it helps to make new friends too - mommy and parent friends will be able to help you laugh, commiserate, and work your way through parenthood.

18 | Learn to laugh at yourself and forgive yourself often. You will have some pretty rough and trying times to get through as a parent. You will make mistakes and do things you never thought imaginable to make and keep your kiddos happy. Life is much easier to handle at times with laugh.

19 | Stay off the Internet researching everything under the sun - it will drive you crazy and to madness!! Picture this: there was a time when people actually managed to raise children successfully without the help of the Internet. Hard to believe I know, but it's true. I found myself spending hours of wasted time in front of my laptop for every little thing that I felt was wrong with me or my baby and you know what? In the end, reading things off the Internet only made me feel worse. This goes back to #10 and learning to develop your mother's intuition and a trusting and open relationship with your child's pediatrician.

20 | Find an organizational system for your life that works for you and your circumstances and stick to it. The bottom line is that you can't run your life half-assed with kids. You just can't. You will wear yourself down quick and often. Plan to work and work the plan.

21 | Let the kiddos be young. This is the only time in their life that they can act free and uninhibited. Let them do it! It goes against every fiber of my "everything in its place, neat and tidy" being to let Maddy be messy, but I do it; finger paints, playing in the dirt, the messy room - all of it because bottom line, it's her happiness and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. It can all be fixed and cleaned, momma.

22 | Accept that children don't need the best of everything. Only you care about the finer things in life. Your child could care less if they are wearing designer clothes and playing with the latest and greatest toys.

23 | Tell your child "No" every now and again. We've all encountered the Bratty Bratterson. Enough said.

24 | Be the disciplinarian - not the best friend parent. Bottom line, you have a job to do. Raising a human is no joke, y'all. You will have time to cultivate a friendship with your child when they are an adult. Right now, it's time to take care of business. I didn't understand this growing up with my own parents but I do now that I have my own child and I THANK GOD every day that they understood and implemented this very fine principle for myself and my two sisters.

25 | And finally, when all else fails, drink a fabulous glass {or two} of wine.

What advice would you share? I'd love to know! 
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.

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