I feel incredibly fortunate to 1). have a healthy baby boy. 2). be able to stay home with him. Now that he is approaching 1, I’ve been reflecting on how incredibly amazing this year has been. How much I have grown and learned. Also how much happiness this tiny human has brought to two families. With that being said, I’m also the girl that googled “what to do with baby all day,” at this very time last year. Because I’ve never been around babies, or spent all day and night with them. There are not enough baby books and googling to prepare anyone for this journey. Nonetheless, I thought I’d share what I learned in my first year of being a mama. Really, this as a manifesto to myself—because some of this advice I still need to hear, read and take.Welcome to motherhood, you’re the CEO. I talk about this my previous post, Being a mom is like receiving a promotion to become a CEO of a company that you know nothing about. You may not know much about the daily operations at first, you do know is that you have incredible instincts. This journey is your opportunity to listen to that little voice inside you and have it become stronger. Everyone will give you advice, but you don’t have to adhere to any of it.
Get on a schedule. Baby FLO didn’t have a schedule for the first couple of months, but it wasn’t for my lack of trying. Regardless of that, I still made a sort of routine for us, so that we could get through the days. Eventually, it became something I could actually write down. We went for walks every morning, we played upstairs, then downstairs, we met up with friends for lunch, we took swimming classes and mommy and me yoga.
Make mama friends. A girlfriend of mine was having her second right around the time I was pregnant with baby FLO, so she became an integral part of my mama tribe. Not only has she done it all before, but we also had a similar approach to motherhood. This was key for me. In making friends with other mamas, I found that it was easier with women who had similar philosophies.
One of the things I want to focus on for year two is finding more like minded mamas in my neighborhood for playdates.
Cherish your non-mama friends. Remember that episode of Sex and the City when Carrie comes over to Miranda’s to talk about her and Big, and Miranda can’t focus because she is trying to get the baby to latch? I used to relate to Carrie. Now I’m Miranda. But, this doesn’t mean my friendships have taken a back burner. Yes, I have a mini-me that comes to my lunch and coffee dates, but unlike my mama friends, we get to talk about all the other stuff, like Beyonce—still a very important topic around here!
Don’t forget about yourself. Whatever beauty regimen you had before the baby, it is important to keep it. It will take a while before your body is back to normal, so anything and everything you can do to feel good about the skin you are in, do it. The baby will be fine. Go get your nails done. Go do your hair. Go get your eyelashes and go get that wax. Also, get out of those yoga pants and get excited about new clothes and makeup.
Accept Help. I have an amazing partner, who is incredibly hands on and super helpful. He stays with the baby so I can get a break, exercise and do whatever else I need to. But, he also works 40+ hours a week and deserves to have a break. If family is not near or it’s not ideal to have family stay with a baby, find a babysitter or a nanny. I just found one, and I probably should have done it 6 months ago. She will be coming once a week for 4 hours, and I am already fantasizing about all the things I am going to do with that precious alone time. Maybe nap. Maybe read. Maybe food shop alone, or bathe?
Exercise and take breaks. It’s overwhelming and exhausting to be around a baby all day and night, and at the same time you feel super guilty for wanting a break. The truth is that even if you don’t know it, you need one. You need to miss your baby, your baby needs to have a change of pace and be around someone else. You get to come back refreshed. Everyone wins. One of my favorite breaks is exercising. I am especially into yoga and pilates right now, because there is a push to focus solely on yourself and your body, which helps alleviate stress and constant worrying about baby.
Get a hobby. Oprah lists bathing as one of her hobbies, so this step doesn’t have to be an intense immersion into cross stitching, just something to do or make. For me, it has been this blog. It’s a creative and therapeutic outlet and making time for it makes me feel like I am not just focusing on baby, I am doing something for my own pleasure, because I am still me first, and mama second.
Love your partner. Maybe I’m a mama third, because I am a wife second. While you can’t get mad at the baby for screaming all night, or biting you (which is what is happening right now), you can get mad at another adult around you. My partner has been my emotional punching bag at times, and to make up for this I try to do little things to let him know how much I love him. Parenthood is tough on a couple, and we are working on taking little steps to focus on our relationship, although for the life of me I can’t remember what we talked about before we had a baby!
Motherhood has been the most challenging and rewarding journey, and I wouldn’t trade this ride for anything else in the world. What I learned in my first year of being a mama will also help me grow as a person. I need to work on my patience and a ton of habits I don’t want to pass on to baby.
I hear first year is the hardest, so cheers to all the mamas who have made it. Happy motherhood to us all.