14 Dec 2013 From one new mom to another
by Ashley Carson
Six months ago, I received a phone call that would change my life forever. Our adoption agency called to inform me that a baby had just been born who was in need of a forever family. So, ready or not, my husband and I went from being a couple to a family overnight as we received our son, Oliver.
During our first night with Ollie, I have to admit, I didn’t sleep a wink. I was up checking on him with any new sound he made. Even though I had logged countless hours babysitting as a teen, it’s completely different when it’s your child and you’re the one responsible for their well-being. Thankfully, half a year later, I’ve learned not only how to relax a bit but also a few helpful hints I’d like to share in hopes of encouraging new moms out there.
The truth is, each child is unique, and the sooner you learn to embrace and enjoy his or her uniqueness, the happier you will both be. Every mom is different and every child is different. And that is perfectly fine! What works for one mom with one particular child might not work at all with another.
It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing your child with another or to worry that you are somehow responsible for your child not walking at 9 months like so and so’s daughter did. Allow your pediatrician to be the measurement of your child’s rate of development and not your mom’s best friend’s granddaughter.
My advice, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the anecdotal stories of the precious little kids out there, is to focus less on what other kids are doing and more on loving your own little bundle of joy for who they are and what they can do.
They may do something one week or one month slower than someone else’s baby, but don’t worry, it won’t go on their college application. Guard yourself from unnecessary expectations. This is good practice for later in life, as your children grow and their uniqueness shines through even more.
Slow down and enjoy your blessing
This has been the most challenging lesson for me to learn as a new mom. It takes about 10 times longer to do just about anything. I have had no choice but to learn to adjust my expectations of what can be accomplished in a day. When I find myself becoming frustrated at my lack of efficiency, I stop what I’m doing, re-evaluate my list and focus on the most important things, namely, time with my son.
I have yet to reach the end of a day and wished I’d spent more time cleaning and less time snuggling my child. Also, don’t be afraid to delegate. If you have a significant other, family member or friend, take a few items off of your list and put them on a honey-do list to help lighten your load. As a very wise woman once said to me “many hands make light work.”
Take time to refresh yourself
Being a mom is not for the faint of heart. It is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year job that will wear you down if you let it. The trick to not burning out is you have to be purposeful in how you pace yourself. I’ve always heard people say “sleep when your baby sleeps” and, especially during those first few months, this is very sage advice.
Equally as important is to schedule some personal time for yourself in the midst of all the chaos. Simply taking a walk outside or going to watch a movie can really serve to recharge your batteries. If you’re anything like me, just pushing a basket in your favorite store (with your favorite Starbucks drink in hand) is enough to refresh and make you feel new again. If you ever start feeling guilty about spending time away from your baby, just remember this: the best way to take care of your child is to make sure to take care of yourself.
Becoming a new mom is undoubtedly the biggest life transition I’ve ever experienced. I’ve also found it to be one of the most joy-filled, fulfilling and yet incredibly humbling periods of my life. I’ve learned that now is definitely not the time to try to appear perfect and put together. My advice is to embrace each moment for what it is. Accept help, snuggle with your baby and always make sure to take time for yourself!
A University of Central Arkansas graduate, Ashley Carson is a Conway native and owner of Anything & Everything Design.