After 11 years of parenting and 47 years of living, I’ve learned to avoid the unchecked pursuit of perfection at all costs. Now, I don’t love everything about being an older mom (less energy being one of those things), but letting go of the idea that you need to be Supermom is definitely a perk of being older.
Being an Older Mom: Tips for New Moms
There’s a lot that I wish someone had told me when I was in the trenches with my babies.
Here are my top tips from an older mom to help make life with baby easier.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Your sister-in-law may have seemed to effortlessly manage a full time job when her kids were babies, and cooked homemade meals most nights as well. Her list of helpful working mom tips would be a mile long. Or maybe your best friend had a blissful, stay-at-home year with her baby. But I can guarantee you that each of them, at some time or another, felt that they didn’t quite measure up.
Every mom has her unique spin on being a mom. You may be a whiz at changing diapers and rocking the little ones to sleep, but want to poke your eyes out with a fork when you read Goodnight Moon for the millionth time at bedtime.
If you’re like me, you’ll muddle through the early years, and hit your stride when your kids are a little older and starting to ask questions and interact with the world. Even moms who seem to have it all figured out second guess themselves too; they wonder if they’re doing it right just like you do.
The only thing that comparing yourself to others will do for sure is eat away at your self confidence and happiness.
There’s not one right way to raise a child
Beware anyone who insists there is only one right path, because they’re either lying or are deluded. Even worse, they’re dangerous to you and your family’s happiness and peace of mind.
No two kids are exactly the same, so how can only one path be right? Your way may be different from someone else’s, but as long as your child is loved and well cared for, then it’s just splitting hairs.
Social media perfection is a sham
Sure, those posts on your Facebook feed with smiling babies and perfect looking families give the impression that other moms have it all together. I can tell you this without hesitation: they don’t.
There is no such thing as the perfect mother, or even the perfect baby. For every smiling baby, there’s a diaper blowout waiting to happen later, or a sleepless night down the road.
Double this advice for perfectly posed family photos on Christmas cards and in sunny vacation shots. Though everyone is smiling right then, you have no idea what happened right before or right after that perfect shot was taken. Chances are, things weren’t perfect then.
Adjust your expectations
After you have a baby, your life will change. You are suddenly entirely responsible for the life of another human being. Realistically, everything else in your life is impacted, and it’s madness to expect life to run as smoothly as it did (or didn’t) before you had kids.
Expectation is the mother of all frustration.
Press the easy button whenever you can
No one is keeping score on how hard you work, or how much you suffer for your child.
Do whatever you need to, whether that’s making sandwiches instead of complicated meals, getting a cleaner to help out, or asking family members to carry some of the load.
Find some way to take care of yourself physically and emotionally
You hear this advice for taking care of yourself over and over, but it’s especially hard to take when you’re an overwhelmed new parent. As a new mom, it often feels like you don’t have time to pee alone, much less go for a long spa treatment.
The truth is, though, that ignoring your self care will eventually blow back on you and your family. I just couldn’t seem to find time to exercise after my second baby came, and eventually I felt that I was too tired and sluggish to enjoy playing with my kids. It took a bit of work to get that energy back!
Let go of resentments and grudges
Resentment is the death of love.
This was one of the hardest things that I struggled with personally. I have never wanted to hurt another human being more than every time my husband rolled over and continued to sleep when I got up for night feedings with our baby in the middle of the night. Of course, since I was breastfeeding, I was the one who had to feed the baby anyway. But oh, how I resented him for his peaceful sleep.
Over time, that resentment started to seep into our relationship. I eventually told him how I felt, and he started getting up to bring the baby to our bed. It turns out he woke up every time the baby cried as well so it wasn’t such a big deal. Regardless, it helped a lot.
Be kind to yourself
A few years ago I heard someone else give this advice – I wish I could remember who it was – ask yourself what you would tell someone else in your situation, and then treat yourself with the same kindness and empathy you would give to another person.
It’s always stuck with me, because, inevitably, my advice to someone else is much kinder, and less judgmental, than my inner voice. Why on earth would I not give myself the same grace and kindness that I would give a complete stranger?
Get the right gear
One of the best ways to make life easier as a new parent is to find great products to help.
Getting great practical gear for breast or bottle feeding is crucial, too.
When I first returned to work as a breastfeeding mom, I was a tired mess and in a hurry, so I just rented a breast pump from the nearest drugstore. It was a 20 pound beast, and I lugged that monolithic sucker back and forth on public transit for months.
Luckily, for my second baby, I got smarter, did some research, and bought a lightweight, easy to use pump. It made all the difference, as suddenly pumping at work was so much easier.
A lot has improved both in breast pumps and accessories over the past few years. Today, the NUK Simply Natural Feeding Platform lets moms continue that special breastfeeding bond, even when we can’t be there to breastfeed. Both the Simply Natural bottles and breast milk collection cups are designed to mimic the close-to-mom breastfeeding bond.
When I first went back to work, my husband stayed at home with our little ones. He’s an amazing Dad, and I was so fortunate that I never worried for a second that our kids weren’t in perfectly capable hands.
Let’s not forget to shout out to all the amazing grandmas, grandpas, and other caregivers out there that help raise our little ones!
For the first little bit, he struggled to get our babies to accept a bottle. He persevered with both kids, but it was a bit of hit and miss at first, because the bottles and nipples we had simply weren’t designed to closely mimic breastfeeding.
I only wish we’d had an option like the NUK Simply natural system – it would have made his life much easier!
The NUK nipples have multiple holes, just like mom, and are even the same shape as mom for a familiar fit. They’re wide and supple, allowing your baby to have a continuous latch.
Looking for some help with baby?
Do you have any tips for making life with baby easier? Let us know in the comments below!