Well, we made it. Year one of parenting. Wow. I still can’t believe it has been over a year since we met our sweet baby O. We have learned and grown so much as a family the last year. Here are a few things I have learned.
- Soak up every overwhelming, poop/spit up-covered, toys exploding, happy, tearful, hungry, sore, beautiful moment. They go so fast.
- Going back to work after maternity leave sucks. It just plain does. You are going to cry, probably a lot, and feel like you just can’t do it. I think there should be a team of people to help cheer you through your first week back. What a difference that would make.
- While it is so hard to leave that sweet, snuggly baby with your daycare provider, I can promise you that it gets easier. You get into a routine. You get your rhythm. You will feel “normal” again. I promise you that. You will struggle to balance it all the first few weeks or even months. Your house will go uncleaned. Your dinner will be take out. Laundry will pile up. But eventually, you get into your groove and find your balance. It gets better and it gets so much more fun. The best part of my day is picking up my sweet boy at 4:15 every day. The smiles and the squeaks he gives are the highlight of my day.
- Buy Draino in advance. Postpartum hair loss is not a joke, especially for the curly girls.
- Do not let anyone guilt you out of taking care of yourself – including yourself. The number of times I have guilted myself out of going to grab a coffee with a friend or walking around Target aimlessly because I felt bad about leaving my family at home without me was way too high. My husband scolded me (lovingly) many times for not taking care of myself. I learned the hard way that you can’t pour into others out of your own empty cup. Take the walk at the park. Go play Pokemon (Andrew’s self-care of choice). Get your nails done. Hit the gym. I don’t care what you do – just take care of yourself and don’t let anyone guilt you out of it. You are the best parent possible when you are at your best – that includes taking care of yourself.
- Pack more diapers and changes of clothes than you think you will need. You will need them. We had a phase of O peeing out of every diaper as soon as Andrew changed them so we started packing a spare t-shirt we could both wear, in case of a diaper disaster. Once we packed it, it never happened again. I’m telling you. Just do it.
- Your relationship with your friends is very likely to change, whether that is for better or for worse. Some friends, we see more often. They love us and our messy house and our wild child and our loud dog. When I would forever apologize for how a-mess things were, one friend in particular would tell me to knock it off because we just had baby and were figuring things out. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that meant to me, even as he said it 6+ months into our journey as parents. He does not have a tiny human of his own, but he has been one of the most understanding and supportive people we have had in our village. We love him dearly for his sincere friendship. Then there are the friends who your relationship with suffers. This is one of the hardest parts of parenting. When your child is born, your priorities change. Plain and simple. Some people will understand that. Others just won’t. That’s ok for them, but it doesn’t make it any less hard for either of you when your friendship is suffering and you sure miss your friend.
- Reach out to new moms, once you have your footing. You need it. They need it. Everyone can benefit from having a familiar face say “Hey, I get it. You’re not alone.” I have “made” so many friends from just a short message on Facebook to someone I sort-of knew in college or high school, some of who I talk to daily now! But also, don’t be upset if they never respond. Not everyone feels the same and that is 100% ok.