Probably one or more of my many mom friends told me these but I am pretty sure it went through and through, or I actually had an invisible barricade against any ‘seemingly negative’ kind of advice then. Sharing these with you so you can read it first, squint your eyes at it, go pass it and even roll your eyes, but remember you can always get back to it again if you feel like it. Sometimes a mother knows the best and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. These might seem negative to you but believe me, after raising three kids, I have found that the life gets much easier if you just take it easy on yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Now you are a mom, your life is changed forever. It has changed forever but that does not mean you have to give up what you love to do, you are still the same amazing person you have been and babies are great at adjusting to your style. So, go out with your friends, go for walks, go shopping – life with a baby is not that hard as many would think.
- Babies love to be held – for the most part, but not 24/7. Unless you have decided to be a permanent baby carrier for six months, put that baby down and give him some space to explore. He will actually be happier when you put him down on a clean floor mat under your watch. I love the floor mats with sensory attachments. My second baby was fortunate enough to stay home for two years without hitting daycare and that’s when I discovered that he really loved spending time on his play mat. Not anything fancy, but a fabric with different textures for him to chew on, a soft rattle or a toy with different textured surfaces, like these DIY extra-large sensory blocks from Pinterest. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/205899014191386933/
- Expect yourself to be in constant mood swing – and that’s ok – you are extra happy when the baby finally naps and you successfully managed to walk away without waking him up, but for only ten minutes. Then you are extremely sad because you never got your chance to blow dry your hair, another bad hair day. You are super hungry and ate a good portion of the garlic herb pizza and the next moment you are guilty if the baby is not going to drink his milk tonight with all that smell and taste of garlic in his food. Well, mood swings are part of motherhood. Just try to take it easy and be kind to yourself.
- Nobody else knows the needs of YOUR baby – yes, not me, not your doctor, not your mother, not any of the aunts and especially not your nosy neighbor. So do what you think is right for your baby and do what is easy on you and your baby. Would have been great if the baby could sit through the very long family thanksgiving dinner, after all, the other perfect parents around the table are already giving you the corner eye – but walk away if it is too much excitement for your baby and you. Walk away, just say you have to excuse and go find a calm place for him, you might even be able to catch a good conversation while trying the pumpkin pie with that one cousin you didn’t get to see much this year.
- Take a very good care of yourself – if you are tired, say so and look for help right away. A tired mother is not going to settle down a tired infant. Here’s an interesting article about the study of postnatal hospital stay. It discusses the benefits of resting mothers in the first few days of giving birth and the impact of overcrowded, noisy and shared hospital rooms on baby’s crying. I remember so well that when no one else was home and I had a constantly unhappy baby that I can’t seem to calm down, I would put him in his bed, on his back, on a safe position and give myself a five-minute bath with the best smelling soap. Most of the time, the baby has calmed himself down by the time I come back and if not, I was calm enough to carry him and walk around smelling like an angel.
- You will feel like ‘selling them to the zoo’ was actually an option – but its not. So instead of constantly worrying myself thinking “where did I go wrong raising these two overly rambunctious toddlers “ – I sometimes just laugh at the mess and hose them down and take them inside for a warm bath followed by milk and cookies. Most of the time I am too busy with my other duties to do this but then I tell myself – one day they sure will calm down – so what if they aren’t ready yet, at least I lived another day to see them grow up. High pressure and high expectations can actually kill you faster.
- The messy they are, the better it is – yes, in grandma’s house they can blame you for your inadequate parenting skills all they want, but guess what, your kids will be happy for twenty minutes of messy play time and you will have to stop what you are doing and clean them before heading to the dinner table – but I guarantee that it will save you hours of crankiness and they sure will gobble up what you put in front of him at the table, remember they are in a very good mood.
- If I could afford to buy that diaper genie – yeah me too, but guess what, all of us have our own list of ‘have to haves’ and most of the time it’s not of a big deal unless you make it a big deal. Remember the word ‘essentials’ has a different meaning for different people. Elvis Presley thought he had to have a 24K gold plated seat belt buckle on his airplane but I bet you it served the same function as the economy class stainless steel buckles that are in all the other airplanes that carry you and me. So, do what is comfortable for you and your family. The children cost more as they grow up, and their essentials change to more expensive things than just diapers.
Dr Ganga Fernando received her PhD from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and currently teaching at Cottey College – a four-year University of liberal arts and sciences for women – as an Associate Professor of Chemistry. In her role as a faculty member of the BS in Health Science program, she offers research and internship opportunities in the field of Global Public Health disparities and health care in rural South East Asia. She is a mother of 3 and a world traveler with vast experience in women’s health and maternity.