There are so many things I have learned in my first year of motherhood!
It is crazy to think that I have already been a Mom for 1 entire year. I can still remember vividly the drive to the hospital when we were about to meet our son. The person on that drive, has drastically evolved into a new and improved version. I have become someone so passionate about my family, and their livelihood. As I sit back and reminisce over this past year, I can’t help but think about all the lessons I have learned in my first year of motherhood.
I truly believe that no one can prepare you for the emotions you will feel when you have your baby. Your decisions will be your own, and you will most likely surprise yourself with the person you become. At it’s core, you will operate on no sleep, but somehow be totally fine. You will learn an entire new form of patience, even if you had none previously. Any thoughts or behavior of selfishness, are replaced with complete and utter selflessness due to whole heartedly unconditional love for your baby. These are the 10 lessons I’ve learned during my first year of motherhood.
1. Take more pictures. And get in them!
There is no such thing as too many pictures. No one has ever, or will ever say I took too many pictures, and then been upset about it! In my sons first 6 months, I filled up 3 entire photo albums! In the first year of life, babies change so much. You will not regret capturing every single moment. The peaceful way they sleep, the adorable way they wake up, their first bath, the first time they roll over, the opportunities are endless.
Don’t forget to get in the pictures! It’s ok if you are in sweats and a messy bun. I have never taken a selfie, until my son. Now half my pictures on my phone are selfies of me and my son. Having those memories of the way we were during our first year of motherhood is priceless.
2. Know that this too shall pass during your first year of motherhood.
Nothing is permanent. The first year of motherhood has so many phases, and some are very short lived. The most difficult part is lack of sleep, and getting to know your baby. In your sleepless nights, know that in that moment it will feel like forever. However, you are going to blink and be so far away from that moment you won’t know what hit you.
As difficult as it is, enjoy those little moments, even the hard ones. As you are rocking your baby to sleep, hug them a little tighter. Before you know it they will be sleeping 12 hours straight, and you will miss them until they wake again. These hard moments will be gone before you know it. I like to call these hard times during the first year of motherhood, “for now moments”. This is hard for now, but pretty soon it will be a piece of cake!
3. Listen openly, but choose your advice selectively.
Everyone is going to give you a ton of advice, whether you ask for it or not. Especially in your first year of motherhood! Listen to it all, however act upon a fraction of what you hear. Make your own choices. Always do your own research! Whether your choices or decisions are controversial, you are the one who is responsible for making the best decision for your baby. The more research you do on any topic, the more informed and confident you are to passionately stay true to your beliefs. However, don’t shun away anyone trying to give you advice. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you are told!
4. All you need is a solid wooden spoon, and a pot.
I am not kidding! Don’t go crazy and register, or buy a million toys. Your baby doesn’t need them. My sons favorite toy is a wooden spoon (his second favorite toy is an empty water bottle). He crawls and cruises all over our home with that thing, and bites on it, it feels great on his gums. He uses it to point at things, and loves smacking everything around. It literally is so perfect for him! In the first year of motherhood if you live in an apartment or tight space, don’t fret about getting every new and cool toy out there. I guarantee you, your baby will play with their new toy for a few minutes and be on their way again. Save your money, and save your space for things they will really need!
5. Routine is key during year first year of motherhood.
You need a solid routine. Anyone that tells you differently is lying. Even if your baby is the most mellow baby in the world, a routine will help you maintain your sanity during the first year of motherhood. You will know what is coming next! We started a routine when my son was 3 months old, and I wish we started sooner. Babies love to know what’s coming next. Eat, bath, change, book, lights, song, bed!
The first 3 months we struggled with finding a routine, and getting our son to sleep. There are many routines out there, find one that works for you. We got some great tips from Mom’s on Call. They have guidance for the full first year of motherhood. The routine was pretty life changing for us!
6. Sometimes your baby just needs to cry.
Ok, not really, but sort of! I am specifically talking about bed time, as I was extremely against hearing my son cry for the first 6 months. I would run in there pretty quickly. Hearing him cry was one of the worst feelings in the entire world. Also, my son doesn’t just cry. He screams as loud as he can on the top of his longs for an extended period of time. I also live in a condo building, so I am pretty sure the entire building can hear him.
However, we had to let him go for a little bit. It was really really hard. We would go in after 15 or 20 minutes. Let him know we were there, and then leave. The first time we did this, I was travelling for work (my husband knew I wouldn’t let it happen in the beginning), and when I came back from my work trip, my son was sleeping through the night. Then we hit a few regressions, and I would go in and console him and we took a few steps back. Finally I realized we had to make a change, and it was for our sons own good. It took a few nights, but he began sleeping from 7pm-7am (some nights he even went to 9am!). This was a big lesson for my first year of motherhood.
7. Be present. Get on the floor.
It is so easy to get distracted with your phone and technology. When you are with your baby, be present. They just want your attention, they want you to play, they want to learn from you. If they see you constantly on your phone, or ignoring them, they will act out. Your time is when they are napping and sleeping. Give them all of you when you are with them. Be hands on, play, and teach them things. If you need tips on what activities to do, check these out. Your first year of motherhood will be over before you know it. You will be sad if you missed being hands on when you had the chance.
8. Know your priorities during your first year of motherhood.
What was the commitment you made to yourself, to your loved ones, and to your family? Don’t let that be forgotten when you encounter challenges during your first year of motherhood. Stay true to yourself and your priorities. My family is my number one priority. I wouldn’t give anything up to spend the time I have with them. It is easy to be swayed, or pulled off track. However, always come back to your main question, “what was the commitment you made”. Stick with it, you will be happy you did.
9. Take all the hugs and cuddles you can get.
This may be a little cliche, but I don’t care! It is so true. Your first year of motherhood is so special in so many ways. Your baby will only be a tiny baby for a short period of time. If they want to be held for a little longer, then do it! Baby hugs and cuddles are absolutely the best. All they want in life is you, and their little hugs can make you forget just how tired you might be! Pretty soon your little one will be 5!
10. Don’t try and do everything in your first year of motherhood.
Just don’t do it! It’s not possible. You will without a doubt make some parent mistakes, and learn from them. However, this was undoubtedly the hardest lesson for me to learn. However, when I took a step back, I was able to see things clearer. The first year of motherhood for me, was the biggest change of my entire life. I know that I don’t have to do everything because I have loved ones around me to help balance out our life. Communicate with your partner, and your family. Your support system is there to guide you.
Like I said earlier, know your priorities and commitments. Focus on that. Your life will no doubt have changed since you have had your baby. You will try to hold on to the person you were before you gave birth, but that person has evolved. Embrace her! She is strong, she is a warrior, and she is amazing!