Are you going to be a first-time mom? Congratulations! You are in store for an unparalleled year of heightened emotions and moments that will likely be a huge turning point in your life.
From the joys of baby’s firsts, to the fears and uncertainty of new obstacles. Motherhood is a fantastic journey that often changes us at our core. Shaping the life of your new baby is a huge responsibility, but in this experience you’ll find purpose, validation and just plain fun! Here are the top tips for surviving your first year as a mom:
1) Start Preparations Before Your Baby Arrives
You’ve likely been planning for your baby’s arrival with getting all the baby essentials and reading up on baby development stages. In addition to getting all the items your baby will need, make sure to prepare for the lifestyle changes you are going to endure, especially in the first few months. In the first few months, your energy will be focused on your new baby (as it should be), so have some plans in place for everyday routines like cooking and cleaning. Your clean house will take a backseat in the beginning, and that’s okay.
You need time to recover physically and time to bond with your new precious little one. Delegate chores that are a necessity with your partner or family, and spread them out to do a little something each day. Make some freezer meals before your due date. Set up a meal schedule with friends and family if they would like to contribute. This leads into the next tip…
2) Accept Help or Ask for it
When friends or family offer to help with anything you need, take them up on it! Accepting help is not always second nature for moms, but you will appreciate the extra time and energy you will have to devote to your baby. Not having to worry about what’s for dinner has got to be the greatest gift a friend can give in the early days of bringing baby home. If assistance hasn’t been offered, ask for help. Little favors can help in a big way, whether it’s asking a friend to pick up a few things for you from the grocery store or asking them to come hold and play with your baby while you shower and do some laundry.
3) Find Mom Friends
As a first-time mom, sometimes you don’t have other mom friends yet. Becoming a mom is a transition into a very different lifestyle, and while it’s fantastic to have any friends as a support system, you will truly appreciate having mom friends! With these friendships you will establish a community where you can connect on many different levels, most of which focus on your top priority- your kids.
During the first year, you are bound to have many questions. Ask your doctor, do your research, but most likely you’ll be reaching out to your mom friends for advice or just to vent emotions. Getting feedback and sharing your experience with other moms is invaluable. They’ve likely gone through something similar or know someone who has. Sharing stories and feelings with your mom friends brings you closer and can be a tremendous support when your life is in flux with your baby.
4) Carve out Time for Yourself
During the transition of figuring out eating and sleeping routines for your baby, make sure you’re giving some thought to your own self-care. You may think it’s best to put your needs aside, but setting some time out for your health or social needs can help you keep your momentum and spirits up! Take 20 minutes daily to do whatever exercise you enjoy, whether it’s a walk, jog, yoga or lifting weights during your favorite show. Small increments of time are more doable and, in turn, you’re more likely to be consistent. Read a book or take a bath after putting baby to bed.
While you’re most likely tired and wanting to sleep when your baby does, if you take some of that time to do something you enjoy, you’ll feel like you have some balance. Have a bi-monthly girls’ night or date night. They may end in an earlier bedtime than you’re used to, but you will also have more appreciation for free time when you get it!
5) Do What Works for You and Your Family
You are going to hear a lot of advice and suggestions for caring for your baby…what first foods to feed them, where they should be sleeping, what developmental stages they should be at etc. Take the advice in and use what works best for you and your family. Every baby and family is different and many will tell you what you “should” be doing, but as long as your baby is happy and healthy, feel comfortable in your decisions for your child.
In the first few months anything goes in terms of sleeping arrangements and feeding schedules. What’s most important is that you are bonding with your baby. After this time you may want to try different techniques and suggestions by others to get a more regular and predictable schedule. Just remember that your baby is unique, and it’s important to be flexible. Other factors, such as baby’s growth or sickness, may be at play and must be taken into account. You may have just gotten the hang of one stage, when boom it’s on to the next.
Get ready for a whirlwind of a year that you will never forget. Appreciate all the moments of joy, and capture them in pictures and video when you can, as you’ll be thrilled to look back at them when your kids are older (it really does go by so fast!). Enjoy this exciting time with your new baby!