Five Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me as a New Mom

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Now that my third child is 16 months {how can it be?}, I’m finding that I’ve come a long way in mothering knowledge. Believe me, I still have plenty of learning left, but at the same time there are some things important things I understand now that I didn’t have a clue about after my first little one came into the world.

Reading all the books and pamphlets I got from the doctor’s office and local library convinced me that I had what it took to be a smart, successful and well-prepared mom if I just believed in myself.

And I believed it. Yeah, I know.

But along the way, through the experiences of midnight diaper changes, spit-up that just-won’t-come-out-of-this-ridiculous-outfit!, spilled cereal bowls that leave dried splashes of milk all over my table legs, potty-training {also known as shameless bribery} and a broken collarbone, there are a few important things I’ve finally figured out that I’d like new moms to know. My two cents {for what it’s worth}:


1. Life actually does change when you have a child.

After our first son arrived, I just figured I’d kind-of pick up where I left off. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my baby with my whole heart, it’s just that I was convinced that I “shouldn’t let my child steal my life” and that I could be a “hot mama” {whatever that means! Because I’m pretty sure the only “hot” I felt post-partum was the hormonal body temperature fluctuations I experienced for several weeks after his birth}.

Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t want to go out anymore or that I never wanted to return to any of my previous interests, but it’s just that those interests took on a different spin. And I struggled with that for a long time, mostly because I am a very independent person.

Yet I prayed that the Lord would help me make my son a priority, because I was the only mother he had and I wanted to do the best I could. And as our life situation has changed many times in the past six and a half years, I’ve had to make adjustments based on what’s best for my children, while still maintaining {what I think is} a healthy social life. But it’s true what they say, life really does change when you have a baby. And that’s okay. Because it changes for the better!

The oldest, six, so proud of his “mechanic shop” he set up at the lake cabin

2. You don’t really need the wipes warmer. I promise.

I used to love looking through baby magazines at the cute nursery designs and sleek strollers and the things I just had to have for my precious little one! And then when our first child’s “nursery” was a bassinet that rolled back and forth between our bedroom and my husband’s office in our tiny, dorm apartment {yup, we lived in a men’s dorm with 18 and 19 year old guys for a year}, I came to the conclusion that maybe the baby wouldn’t notice if he didn’t have a matching crib set.

I love to decorate my kids’ rooms, but I make an attempt to do it on a budget {I’ll talk about how I do that in an upcoming post}. We’ve used the same stroller for all three kids and I much prefer Tupperware to toys with “lights and sounds”. I’ve slowly adopted my parent’s mantra that if you don’t have it, make do with what you have.

So just breathe a heavy warm breath on the baby wipe. Go on. No one will know.

3. And you thought getting up in the middle of the night was hard?

Well-meaning people and well-meaning publications make much of the fact that your baby’s first year is a tough and rewarding one, full of changes. From nighttime wakings to fussy cries, there are a myriad of things you need to adjust to as new parents. These things are all true, but what I never was told was how challenging it was to raise children once they hit the toddler stage! I often find myself muttering, “I wish I’d known _______ before I had kids.”

Now we’re learning how to encourage obedience in our children, how to teach good character and what to do when our kids have a spat for the eighty-sixth time that day. It teaches us valuable lessons as parents and is so worth it, but I realize now that it’s okay to admit that many days are harder than when they were sweet little babies!

Our one and only girl, who just turned 4!!

4. Motherhood is more than just trusting your instincts. Sometimes.

I vaguely remember someone telling me that I should just use my “instincts” as a mother when it came to solving problems. But while there are many women who breezed into motherhood naturally, I wasn’t one of them.

Some things I trust my gut on: the sense that it’s been too quiet in the house for too long, recognizing the difference between childishness and foolishness, the protective instinct that flares up when I think my children could be in danger. But there are many opportunities for learning how to raise my children through books, podcasts, videos and visits with my mom :) And independent woman that I am, I have embraced these tools, written by those wiser than I, wholeheartedly.

5. Before you know it, they’re six years old!

Many women have told me knowingly, “They just grow up too fast”. There was a time when I rolled my eyes at a comment like that!

But you know what? Now that my oldest has transitioned from a tiny baby to a first grader in the blink of an eye, I honestly believe that this “growing up” thing exists. I love the stages that my six, four and one year olds are in, but a wistful part of me tears up when I realize that I can’t go back to the times when they were gazing up at me and grasping my finger for the first time.

J at one month, now a 16 month toddler!

My prayer for you is that you will cherish your children and seek wisdom from the Lord in raising them, recognizing that it’s absolutely acceptable if your mothering doesn’t match up with the picture-perfect image that may be in your mind right now.

Because after all, they just grow up too fast.

Shared at Women Living Well, The Better MomRaising Homemakers, Heart and Home Gathering, Your Thriving FamilyThe Mommy Club, Growing Home, Marriage & Mommyhood, and Deep Roots at Home

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Jenn

Blogger/ Author at The Purposeful Mom
Hi, I'm Jenn! I'm happily married to my college sweetheart, mother to four wonderfully spunky children and a woman who needs a whole lot of Jesus! I spend most of my time taking care of my home and family, reading good books, blogging and dreaming up ways that I can finally have a perfectly organized home--ha!

Comments

  1. says

    Yep, you said it…it goes so fast. I love reading posts by moms who get that! :) My oldest is now 20 and parachuting out airplanes in service to our country~I can hardly believe he is old enough to be doing that because just yesterday he was snuggling on my lap and watching The Jungle Book. Thankfully I still have a 1 year old at home to snuggle with :) And I hate to say it, but you ain’t seen nothing yet…just wait til those tween years! :) Every age a different stage is my new favorite saying and with it comes good and oh, so challenging.
    Keep up the God work.
    Keep up the God work.

    • says

      Thank you for the encouragement, Lori! I’m a bit nervous about the tween years but I guess that’s where LOTS of prayer comes in!

  2. says

    So true on all counts! well… I wouldn’t know about the wipes warmer.

    One thing I wish I’d realized is that you don’t have to worry about your baby getting too much sleep – there’s no such thing! The newborn phase would have been so much easier if I’d known that it was okay to put him down for a nap more often.

    • says

      I wouldn’t know about the wipes warmer either…I just figured it was something I didn’t need ;)

      That’s a great point about sleep–it’s so good for those bitty ones. We followed the Babywise method and so our kids were laid down for naps a lot, but many people told me at first that I should keep them awake so they would sleep at night. Tried it once and it was a miserable outcome!

  3. says

    Love this post, Jenn! I posted a prayer for young mothers last week, & have a guest post on another blog in October that is so similar… what I wish I’d known as a first time mom. These are great tips :) Will be featuring you tomorrow at our link up… hope you’ll join us again! blessings,
    lauren
    http://www.mercyinkblog.com

  4. says

    What great insights! Thanks for sharing. I’m pinning it to my board for moms, right alongside 100 Things I Want to Tell Moms and Mentors!

    Blessings,
    Lisa

  5. says

    I wish someone had told me that breastfeeding was going to be a challenge. That stubborn toddlers would use up all my patience and drive a wall between myself and my husband on occasion. That nap time was seriously going to be first priority no matter when my friends were meeting for brunch. That even though I may return to my pre pregnancy weight after baby came, it was going to look and feel a whole lot squishier than it did before!

    http://www.sewingourlifetogether.blogspot.com

  6. says

    Hi Jenn!

    My assistant has been doing some research for me to find people who are blogging about Christian parenting. I’m working my way through the list and your blog and this post in particular really caught my attention. I do feel a bit out of place on your blog as I’m not a mom, but I am a parent. I added your blog to my Google Reader and look forward to reading future posts.

    This article on the “5 Things…” is just right on. My kids are grown, but I want to affirm what you are saying here. We all need mentoring and helpful suggestions as parents. It’s actually a shame that more parents don’t seek out support until things are just about to blow up in their home. Most parents try to go it on their own. I guess it’s that rugged individualism that is part of being an American! Thanks for writing and sharing.

    I work with my wife Joanne Miller and Dr. Scott Turansky who are the co-founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting. One of my goals here is to affirm the good work that you and other bloggers are doing through your writing. I really love your blog, so please keep up the good work! – Ed Miller, National Center for Biblical Parenting

    http://www.biblicalparenting.info