The living room was a disaster. There was laundry piled everywhere. Dishes in the sink, patiently waiting to be loaded in the dishwasher. The ones in the dishwasher were also patiently waiting for their turn to be put away. In six short weeks our lives had turned from “domestic bliss” to “I think a tornado just hit, how will we ever be “normal” again.”
I called my friend Kara. I was counting on her for encouragement. She had gone through the exact same experience three weeks before we did. The only difference was that this was her second time, so she was a veteran, this was “an old hat” to her. Apparently she had come out alive and with her sanity intact not just once, but twice. I knew she would know the magic spell required in situations like these.
Our conversation went a little like this: “Kara, it’s me! When does it get better??? EVER????” The laughter on the other end wasn’t malicious, but it was rather like sweet music to my ears. Apparently there was an end in sight to my exhaustion. Her words calmed me: “Tove, welcome to motherhood. You ARE in the thick of it right now. You will notice things will start to get easier a little bit every day. Soon you will look back on this conversation and laugh, trust me!”
She was right… Things DID get better, little by little – and I am laughing at the conversation.
The early days of motherhood are not for the faint of heart. It takes a certain type of person to make it through – it takes A MOM! No one can encourage and empower a mom like another mom.
The comments may have been edited for length and content to fit this post.
I asked: “What are the BEST words of wisdom you can tell a new mom? How would you encourage your best friend if she was feeling overwhelmed after having a baby?”
Roseann: The first 3 months are the hardest. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and sleep whenever the baby sleeps!
Christie: You are doing an amazing job. All you need to do is feed the baby – any way you can! Now let me hold the baby while you take a shower!
Heather: We all need help and a break at some point. Rely on friends and family and never be afraid to ask for help.
Emily: Just take each hour at a time! Seriously. If you are breastfeeding: screw stressing over trying to make it 6 months; just make your goal that next feeding and however many feedings you make it, you’re a champ! Don’t be ashamed to cry. . . about any of it . . . EVER.
Barbara: It gets better. Simple but true. Those early days are so very hard but sweet at the same time and they pass quickly. Let your friends help you in any way you need: cooking or cleaning.
Cheryl: Reach out to a friend and have them bring dinner… hopefully, they will come early so you can take a nap.
Laura: You don’t have to be perfect! The baby WILL cry, there will be times when it seems NOTHING works, that it’s not abnormal to wonder what the hell you’ve gotten yourself into and to feel overwhelmed and inadequate. Nobody has this parenting gig down pat no matter what the magazines, blog posts or friends on social media would have you believe. That it is the single most difficult and simultaneously rewarding journey you will embark upon. And welcome to the club. It’s a pretty kick ass one to be in.
Jamie: It’s totally okay to end the day crying on the kitchen floor texting a friend.
Gladys: “You’re a great mom and I admire you for that.”
There was a 30-something-year-old mom at my church who had two kids. I really admired her way with kids. I was 16 with a very fussy 8 mo. One day, I was having a really rough morning with the baby and feeling overwhelmed. She came up to me and said those words to me. You would not believe the effect that had on me. It made me feel less stressed out about everything and made me believe that maybe it is all ok.
Jennifer: I got all kinds of advice and words of encouragement when my son was born- the only thing that got me through it was time. The best thing a friend can do is just physically be there to help you along the way.
Vicki: A good friend will bring dinner and hold the baby while you shower in peace. That’s what a good friend does.
Saskia: You have to do whatever feels right. It’s a Mother’s instinct to take good care of her children. There is no wrong way to do things – just YOUR way.
Lisa: Get a good show just for you on Netflix for late night feedings. My grandma gave me some words of wisdom that “it will only last two weeks”. Every baby phase, good or bad, only lasts two weeks… So make it through the hard ones and enjoy the good ones.
Stephanie: Call a good friend and ask for help with laundry or things around the house. Words never helped me, but having someone do two loads of laundry or cook a meal would have been a nice.
Julie: It is okay to accept any offers of help. It doesn’t make you any less of a mom when you say ‘yes, doing my laundry or dishes or whatever would help’.
Courtney: Remember when it gets really hard it’s OK to take a few minutes to regroup when the baby is being extra fussy, and that it’s always ok to ask for help. You get to watch this amazing little bean grow and do such amazing things it makes all the crap you go through worth it.
Jessica: Wear your baby, so you can get the things done that you feel like you need to do, and still rest when the baby does fall asleep. Learn to accept what you can and cannot live with. (For example, I can live with my clean laundry sitting in the dryer forever, but I cannot deal with eating junk food just to have one less thing to do.)
Amanda: Ignore all the people telling you to sleep when the baby sleeps. You will drive yourself insane trying to do that; You are going to want to pee, or shower, or eat when they are napping! Instead, budget your naps. Think, “this nap I will eat and pee, the next one I will nap.” It will make that nap so much more effective and keep you from feeling like everything is falling apart.
Melissa: Its OK to take an hour or two for you when you are overwhelmed, we tend to forget about our needs. You don’t have to entertain the little ones every second they are with you. Motherhood duties tend to start defining us and our pre-pregnancy identity gets a bit lost. but it’s important to find time to do the things that made you happy pre-pregnancy. Get a sitter and focus on you.
Maggie: Only try to do the task at hand. Mentally writing lists of everything that has to be done wastes what little energy you have, so just do what you need to in the moment and focus on watching your sweet baby grow.
Barbara: You are a great mom and to follow your instincts!
Jessica: That it is ok to let people help you. You don’t have to do everything yourself, or even feel obligated to help if someone starts doing something you’ve asked them to do. Let them help you. Also, that first 3 months is like a 4th trimester of pregnancy. Let the baby spend a lot of time on your chest and in your arms where they can smell you and hear your heart beat. It helps keep them calmer. The last thing is not to feel guilty about letting your baby enjoy time in their swing or playpen. Interaction is good, but if they are content, let them be.
Alexia: It’s okay to cry. Sometimes 2 minutes of letting yourself do what you need to – cry, eat, eat chocolate, scream outside, whatever it is. Baby will be fine for two minutes (or ten) so you can get your sh*t together. It’s okay to not have it all together!
Darcy: Do whatever works for you, your baby and your family. Every baby is different, and the baby books just don’t work for everyone.
Heather: Keep a bar of good chocolate in the house. Also it’s OK to ask for help. Everyone goes through this but you don’t have to go through it alone.
Maureen: Things get better. It is perfectly OK to let some things go during this time. House cleaning and laundry can wait.
Sarah: “Everything is temporary”. Meaning that the tough stuff will pass so try not to let it get to you, and to focus on the amazing bits of each stage, because it will pass too.
The Halfway Homemaker: Trust your gut. You know your baby, you know yourself. You know what is best for each of you. Motherhood doesn’t come with a set of instructions, but it does come with a sixth sense. You will know what to do no matter the situation when it comes to your baby.
Amber: That we all have times/days/weeks when we struggle. It gets better, it gets easier but sometimes it gets worse. Cherish the snuggles, the kisses, the quiet times and never be afraid to ask someone for help or a break!!
Brittany: Embrace the suck. Your feelings are valid, and it is hard, and right now it is thankless, but also embrace the good. Maybe you won’t get an hour of free time but soak in a 10-minute break, enjoy that first sip of coffee. It’s the little things that will keep you going.
Mindy: Trust your instincts. There’s no one right way to be a good mom.
Traci: Wear socks to bed. When you have to get up in the middle of the night, the faster you get back to sleep the better, and nothing stops sleep faster than cold feet. Also, Depends or Thinx for postpartum shedding. Full granny brief variety.
Dianna: Have people make you meals & freeze them! I highly recommend having a high quality protein shake made and ready in the fridge at all times in the beginning. NURSE, NURSE, NURSE!! Research, educate yourself, have a Lactation Consultant on hand for bumps along the way. Go to LLL meetings (even before you give birth).
You will cry due to exhaustion when the baby won’t sleep in the beginning… You WILL get through it even if it doesn’t feel like it.No first-time mom knows what she is doing. Don’t feel bad! Ask for advice wherever you can, but only apply the advice that feels right to you!! Placenta Encapsulation is highly recommended! It prevented the baby blues for me, a life saver.50 things every tired new mom needs to hear! #Motherhood #NewMom #Empowering Click To Tweet
Mattea: Give me that baby, go get a coffee or enjoy Target alone for an hour. To long-distance friends: Don’t worry, it will get better. If the baby is fed and clean, you’re doing an amazing job, just hold them. Don’t worry about the dirty clothes, the dishes or the floors. Baby won’t be little forever, just cuddle. Crying is okay too. Napping is fine too. When it gets rough put baby down in a safe place (empty crib) and walk away and breathe for a minute. Lastly, it’s perfectly fine to ask for help.
Michelle: Put baby in his crib and walk outside for a few mins…you’ll come back inside with a cooler head and you’ll be able to handle the situation better. Also don’t freak if your baby won’t sleep through the night…most won’t.
Cindy: Our doctor asked if we had much experience with babies–a little–and he said, “If she’s dry, make her wet; if she’s wet, make her dry. And hold each other tightly whenever you can.” He was a little odd but he was right.
Jennifer: Trust your own intuition, and figure out what works for you. Not what works for someone else, but for you and your family! There will always be critics and so called experts, but they don’t know you or your baby.
Aleena: Babies don’t spoil and they don’t hold grudges. It’s ok to sit all day and snuggle your new baby, but it’s also ok to put them down, and take some time for yourself.
Tonya: It’s ok to be tired and it’s so normal.
Jessy: I’m currently one month in with our second daughter and the biggest thing to remember is that “everything really is a phase at this point.” And phases move quickly- a week in newborn time is like a month or a couple months in adult time. Just because it’s rough one week doesn’t mean it will be the next, so hang in there and get as many of those amazing newborn snuggles as possible!
Heather: Get some rest. The laundry will still be there. Ask for help. Enjoy those snuggles with your baby.
Kayla: Please don’t worry, there is no right way.
Sara: I am not going to say anything. This is your time to talk and vent, while I clean and listen.
Lillian: It’s ok. Poop really does go everywhere.
Jamie: Go shower, then I’ll feed you and teach you to baby-wear.
Jennifer: The only truth that applies to every parent of every child is “this too shall pass”
Meredith: Nap when they nap. It is okay to sleep lots.
Kylie: ASK FOR HELP. I don’t care how awkward or weird it feels. Ask your friends and family to come watch the baby while you shower or nap. Ask for meals. Ask people to help clean your house or to help fund a house keeper. Trade off: ”I’ll hem your clothes for you if you’ll watch my kid” or whatever you have to trade. And ladies who don’t have tiny babies: HELP YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY. Do NOT wait for them to ask for help!
Gina: This too shall pass.
There is simply nothing as powerful as women supporting and encouraging other women. If you are reading this because you are new mom, I hope you feel the love your fellow-moms are sending your way. Please know that the first days and weeks (and months) of motherhood ARE incredibly hard, yet in hindsight, they are beautiful too.
Stay strong, mama. You just entered a sisterhood of women who wish to lift you up and help you over every hurdle in your path. All you need to do is raise your hand (or wave the white flag) – we will be there for you.