It’s been over 15 years now since I first became a mommy . Sometimes it seems like yesterday, sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago.
I remember those first few overwhelming months. Questioning literally everything I was doing. Reading books to tell me whether or not I was doing it the way it should be done. Staying up most nights, battling a gassy baby, frustrations from both of us, leaky booby’s, spit up running down my shoulder, and all we both wanted probably was sleep.
No new mom has everything figured out. I think when you go through the first few weeks/months/years you’re just doing your best that you can do. Doing your best to survive every day.
I really wish sometimes I could go back to those days, and tell my younger, new mommy self a few tips. I like to share this advice with my moms that come into the studio too. You can feel the sleep deprived stress sometimes. And I know those mommies are just like me. They’re just trying to survive, trying to do everything right.
1. Did you get through the day? Did your baby survive the day? I would call that a win. You don’t have to have the whole house clean, and dinner waiting on the table with a brand new baby. You don’t have to have that ever… baby or not. I definitely wouldn’t put so much pressure on myself to be the perfect mom. I would pay myself on the back just because my baby and I got through the whole day together. We had survived. It’s truly all that needs to happen in the first few weeks.
2. Snuggle that baby every second you can. I actually feel like I did do this as a new mom. But I’m gonna throw it in my list because I have a lot of new moms in my studio that talk about this. And I always tell them, snuggle that baby!! There’s no such thing as spoiling your baby with too much love. Before you know it, they will have grown man legs, with hair that could rival a gorilla. Before you know it, they’re going to be bigger than you. ( and yes I am writing this with tears in my eyes ) before you know it, they will be staying hours up in their room alone. So don’t feel bad about snuggling your baby every second you can. It’s going to feel like a blink of an eye, when you look back on these days. I promise you.
3. It’s OK for you to not breast-feed your baby. This is going to go back to that first statement. Did you and your baby survive the day? It doesn’t matter how you feed your baby, it just matters that you actually feed your baby. There’s no right or wrong way. You don’t have to feel bad if you can’t or don’t want to breast-feed! Just feed your baby. Survive the day.
4. Don’t be in such a hurry to have them grow up. I know that there were days when I was so ready to be over those toddler/preschool years. I just wanted them to be older where we could communicate better. But now that my kids are 15, and 12, I find myself missing those younger days. And to be honest, communicating with my 15-year-old isn’t much better. I literally can’t understand most things that come out of his mouth, and our conversations are few and far between. The days when they would still take their little fat, mushy hand into mine just to cross the street or when they would hang on my leg, just because they wanted to.... I crave those days now, because I can’t remember the last time I held his hand.
5. It’s OK to reach out for help. Sometimes you just need a break. I’m going back to number one, it’s all about survival. If surviving the day means your mom, or a friend needs to come over and take the baby for a few hours, that’s completely fine. Take a shower. Do your hair and make up. Put an outfit on that you feel fabulous in. It helps so much. You don’t have to do everything on your own. When I had my son, we lived in California, and I did not have any family there. So I did do most things alone. It’s tough. There were certainly days when I wished I could just take him over to my moms so I can have a few hours to myself. There’s no shame in that. Make yourself feel like a woman again. Sometimes you need a little time to yourself just to do that.
6. Photograph, photograph, photograph. This one shouldn’t even need an explanation. And I know new mommies everywhere have no problem whipping out their cell phone and taking 700 pictures a day. You guys are lucky. Growing up in an era where you have this amazing camera in the palm of your hand all day long. Don’t forget to get in the pictures yourself. It doesn’t matter that you’re not “camera ready” One day you and your child, will really appreciate these pictures. Just because you take a picture, doesn’t mean you have to put it on social media. I think people forget about that. You can take photographs just for your own personal memories. And for the love of God, print them out !!! You know I’m a print photographer, so that means my number one goal in life is for my clients to have beautiful prints hanging in their homes. But I’m talking, printing things you take from your cell phone. They don’t have to be fancy. I have so many photo albums now printed out with just 4 x 6 images that tell our story. Like our actual life and not our posed photography life. Your children will really love this one day. That I promise you.
7. This one wasn’t a problem for me as a new mommy (bc it wasn’t a thing!) but I still feel like it should be said… The cell phone. Dear God we’re on them all the time. Myself included here. Put them down. Pick up some toys and play with your child. I know sometimes it’s hard and a little mindnumbing to have to play pretend with your children, but again, before you know it, they’re gonna want to be alone in their room. They’ll be days in the future when you will be basically screaming for their attention, trying to figure out what to do that’s fun with them. Soak these young days up NOW! You’re really lucky when your kids are little. They think you hang the moon. All you have to do is pick up toys around the house play with them. You don’t even need toys. You can make a whole fun imaginary game up. You can run around and be silly with them. You can build a fort and read to them. Just soak up your time. Don’t waste it scrolling through social media that you know you’ve already scrolled through. That’s not real life. Real life is happening right now. Right in front of you.
I really hope I’ve hit home a bit of some of you who are struggling. Please just remember you’re doing the best you can. At this point that’s all anybody can ask for. That little baby you have in your hand right now, what a blessing.