When I first became a mother, I was worried about literally everything. I vividly remember waking up in the night and peering over the crib where my baby was sound asleep and just watching her breathe. I was convinced she was going to die. I stressed constantly about doing everything just right.
Slowly…very slowly, I have eased into motherhood. I’m much more likely to shrug now and say, “Well, they didn’t die today,” than I was when my kids were babies. I wish I could travel back in time and tell myself a few things to totally not worry about.
So, for all the new moms out there, here’s what you can stop worrying about. Like, yesterday.
1. The current phase you’re in
Whatever is worrying you right now, whether it’s the color of your baby’s poop (yes, I’ve inspected poop way too much in my life) or teething, or the fact that your baby doesn’t sleep like your friend’s baby does, it literally is just a phase. And, it will pass. You will survive it, so you might as well not stress as much as you are stressing about this particular one, because you will get through it.
2. Having a clean house
This is self-explanatory. Your house was clean before the baby came. It will never be that clean again. It’s OK. Breathe deep (but not too deep to smell the pee in the bathrooms) and remember that bigger kids just mean bigger messes, so embrace the mess as much as you can.
3. How you look in pictures
You need to be in them. It’s hard to love your post-baby body. It just is. It’s normal to feel frumpy, or fat, or unattractive. Get in the picture anyway. Make your husband take pictures of you and the baby on those long days of the newborn phase. You will treasure the ones that you’re in with your baby, no matter how you look.
4. How your friend is doing it all
Maybe you and your friend had identical pregnancies and gave birth on the exact same day. It’s still no reason to compare what her baby is doing to what your baby is doing, or what SHE is doing as a mother to what YOU’RE doing as a mother. Keep your eyes on your baby, and stop stressing about doing it right. If your baby is fed, and loved, then you’re getting it exactly right.
5. Not knowing enough
One of the biggest mysteries of life is how it’s legal for someone with no experience to literally walk out of a hospital with an entire human and go raise that tiny human to adulthood with almost no experience. No other job would let you do that. But, that’s the beautiful thing about motherhood. It’s a learn as you go type experience. And, you can do this just as good as all the other parents that also have no clue what they’re doing can do it. You’ll figure it out.
6. How you’ll look if you ask for help
Believe it or not, it can take a lot of humility to ask for help. That’s a good thing to have. And, it’s a trait you’ll want to instill in your own kids one day. So you might as well put it into practice when you really need it. Instead of having an “I got this” attitude, admit that you need a nap, or a shower, or it would be really nice if someone brought you dinner even though the baby is two months old and you should have your crap together by now. People won’t judge you, they’ll be happy you asked.
7. That your partner is screwing it up
Let dads be dads. Let them change the diaper the way that’s easiest for them. Let them figure out how they want to do things. Leave the house if you are a big control freak like me. Your husband needs a chance to shine, and gain confidence. Let him have one on one time, and enjoy giving yourself a break once in a while.
8. All the gadgets and gear
Babies are relatively inexpensive. They need food and diapers and clothes. They can’t ask for toys, or iPads yet, so don’t worry about getting the latest and greatest gadget. They need you, and not much else. Relish in carrying them everywhere, and getting nothing done. You don’t need a special rocker, or a certain swaddling blanket that everyone swears by. Keep it simple, and you’ll still be successful.
9. About ruining them forever
Kids are resilient. You will make mistakes. It’s OK if you go back to work and they are in daycare. It’s OK if you let them cry a little bit. It’s OK if they have their wet diaper saggy a little bit too long, or if they poop all up their backs. It’s OK if you watch TV with them in the room, or cut their fingernails a tiny bit too close. Kids aren’t going to break. You’re doing a good job.
10. What someone else thinks, says, or does
The beautiful part about getting to raise an entire human, is that you can do it your way. There isn’t really a “right” way. Trust your gut. Follow your instinct. Block out the noise. Stop reading all the parenting books. Get out of the mom groups on Facebook and focus on what feels right. I guarantee if you can do that, you’re going to get it right. No matter what.