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12 Things Only New Moms Would Understand

12 Things Only New Moms Would Understand

There is nothing that can prepare you for how tiring it is to be a new mom.

The late night feedings. The aching and leaking. The diapers and soreness. The fog and confusion. A recent study has shown that new mothers still experience excessive daytime sleepiness over 18 weeks after giving birth. So if you’re a new mom and you find yourself feeling like a zombie, you are not alone.

There is also nothing that can prepare you for how awe-inspiring it is to be a new mom.

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The first time you look into your baby’s eyes. The sound of your baby’s giggle. The coos and babbles. The sheer volume of love you have for this new person in your life can be overwhelming. It’s amazing, joyful, ecstatic, humbling, frightening, and confusing all at once. And you wouldn’t give it up for the world. Here are 12 things you would only understand if you were a new mom:

1. You are filled with relief when you finally hear your baby cry

You’ve just endured 40 weeks of intense body changes you couldn’t have ever imagined. You’ve been through who knows how many hours of labor, contractions, needles, waiting, and pushing. You’ve done all of this knowing that you’ll eventually get to meet your beautiful baby. There is nothing more glorious than those first wails, when you know he or she is finally here and healthy.

2. You sweat constantly

Between the natural hormone detox your body goes through, and the actual, physical effort it takes to walk, lift a baby, and carry a car seat at the same time, you sweat more than you ever have in your entire life. You wind up craving the one thing you wind up never having time for: a shower.

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3. You realize how scary the world really seems

You lived in ignorant bliss before your baby came along. Intersections, parking lots, and public spaces seemed perfectly innocent. Watching the nightly news never bothered you. Now, you see everything as a possible cause of injury or harm to your precious newborn, and you realize how much danger there can be in the world.

4. You never actually sleep when the baby sleeps

In a perfect world, a new mom could gently close her eyes and immediately fall into a peaceful sleep the moment her newborn falls asleep. In the real world, new moms have laundry to do, milk to prepare, and emails to answer. If you’re lucky, you can squeeze in a phone call with a friend. On the rare instances you can fall asleep, it’s guaranteed the baby will wake you up ten minutes later.

5. Your body looks different, but you actually love it more

Your body just created, housed, and delivered a human being. It was asked to do incredible things and stepped up to the task. It may feel battered and broken, but it is also stronger and more powerful than ever before. Your body gave life and nourishment to your baby, and that is truly amazing.

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6. You find your breakfast cold on the counter at 1 p.m. and remember you never ate

Babies know the exact moment you are about to eat, and they tend to chose that moment to need something from you. You will either stuff whatever you can in your mouth in .5 seconds, or, more likely, make food and then forget to eat it because you have to deal with diaper explosions and spit-ups.

7. You stay up late researching baby information online

How many times should my baby be pooping per day? How much milk should I give? Is a cough at night normal? How long should I let my baby cry? When can I exercise again? What doctor should I see? Each new day brings a new question, and you will find yourself scouring the Internet into the wee hours of the morning trying to find answers.

8. You’ve been waiting to go out with your girlfriends, but now you just want to stay home with your baby

You finally have time to go out for a drink and let go a little, but now you don’t really want to. While you love your friends and cherish the details of their lives, this little life in front of you is suddenly so much more important and interesting. You just want to stay in for now and snuggle your new baby.

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9. You have to become the most patient person you know

One simple diaper change turns into three diaper changes, two changes of clothes for the baby, and one change of clothes for you. One nighttime feeding turns into 3 hours of feeding, crying, playing, crying, feeding, feeding and crying again. You know that becoming frustrated only makes things worse, so you take a deep breath and prepare to do it all again.

10. You’ve become “that mom” who shows off endless pictures of her baby

You swore you wouldn’t do it, but you just can’t help yourself. Your baby is the most adorable and amazing thing in your life, and you want to show everyone you know. You now understand why moms do it, and you become more excited to see their pictures as well.

11. You love and appreciate your partner more

They may still snore or forget to take out the garbage, but your partner had an equal hand in creating your amazing new baby. They share the love and responsibility of raising your baby, and echo the hopes and fears you have for your child. Nothing compares to the first time you see your partner holding your new baby.

12. You are always exhausted, and that’s okay

Yes, you are sleep deprived. But you are also constantly lifting a baby and a carseat. You are bending over to pick up toys and recovering from giving birth. You suddenly love someone more than you ever though possible and you want to protect them with every fiber of your being. You are mentally and physically exhausted, but you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Featured photo credit: Danielle MacInnes via unsplash.com

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Published on September 21, 2018

11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

Becoming a mother is one of the most difficult challenges a woman can take on in her life. Whether this happens the “natural” way, with the help of science, or through adoption, being in charge of nurturing another human being is a herculean task to take on.

Typically, when we think about parenthood, we imagine two parents sharing the responsibility and having each other to lean on. However, according to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised by a single mother.[1] This is a significant portion of the population that often gets overlooked.

If you are one of these mothers raising your children on your own, you are undoubtedly aware of the additional challenges that motherhood has placed upon you, including the constant struggle to find sufficient time, energy, money, and support.

For single mothers who find themselves bogged down by their daily responsibilities and struggle to stay afloat, don’t be fooled by the belief that you have to do all. It is possible to thrive and live as a single mother if you take advantage of all available resources and adjust your priorities based on your situation.

1. Find your community and ask for help

As the sole caretaker of your kids, going through the successes and struggles of parenthood can feel isolating and lonely. You have probably developed a strong sense of independence because you’ve had to go at it alone.

Being self-reliant is necessary in many situations that you have to face, but do not fool yourself into thinking that you don’t need support from others. If you have family nearby, strengthen your relationship with them by visiting and talking more often. Find time to catch up with old friends or co-workers, and don’t assume they don’t want to hang out if they are not parents themselves.

Would you prefer finding mom friends[2] who have more in common with you? Use resources like apps, Facebook groups, and community events to meet local moms in your area.

After you have established a support group that you can depend on, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is NOT a sign of weakness or incompetency to admit you can’t do it all, and others are probably more willing to lend a hand than you think.

If you feel uncomfortable burdening others, suggest trading favors such as taking turns babysitting. Because after all, helping is each other is what community is all about.

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2. Make peace with the past

Before you can move forward, you must make peace with your past and not let it define you or rule your life. Whether your journey to single motherhood was through divorce, death, or never having a relationship the father, it is crucial that you leave behind the feelings of abandonment or betrayal you may be struggling with.

You cannot change the past and the hurt you had to endure, but you can use the strength that you gained from overcoming those obstacles to work towards making the best life for yourself and your child. Learn from the past but live in the present and look towards the future.

3. Make plans and set goals

The daily repetition of trying to balance work and home life can make you feel like you are on operating on autopilot. However, it is imperative to set goals for yourself and to keep working towards self-improvement.

In your personal life, you can set a fitness goal (train for a 5k), a reading goal (read 20 books in a year), or a travel goal (take a trip to Europe). At your job, you can set career goals such as gain leadership experience, get a promotion, or earn a degree or certificate.

Spend time creating a realistic plan to on how you can go about achieving these goals. Not only will working towards these goals make you a more well-rounded and successful person, they will bring more purpose and fulfillment to your life.

4. Look for role models

A great way to jump start your plans for the future is to find a role model or mentor who is further along in their life or career experience. This person can be a great resource when you need guidance on what types of goals to set for yourself and how to achieve them.

It’s also important to have people to turn to for encouragement during difficult seasons of life. Someone who has been through it before can provide the most genuine reassurance that tough times will get better and that staying positive is best approach.

5. Rethink your priorities

Single parents have twice as many responsibilities to take care of, so priorities and expectations must be adjusted accordingly.

Know that you are not superwoman and striving for a perfectly clean home, no dirty laundry, and home-cooked meals for your kids every day is not a reasonable expectation. It’s okay to take shortcuts sometimes, like serving your kids cereal for dinner or waiting until the next day to wash the dishes.

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Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and let go of the guilt that you feel for being the only parent that your kids can count on. Give yourself a break and don’t sweat the small stuff.

6. Make time for me time

Even though it can be difficult to find, making time for yourself is critical to maintaining your sanity and well-being. Without a built-in partner to take over, finding time to be away from the kids must be done intentionally and planned in advance.

If you are sharing custody, use the time away from your kids not only doing productive things but also making sure you are taking care of yourself. Sleep, exercise, and balanced diet are not things that can get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Also make time for fun activities, such as hobbies and creative outlets.

Even though being a mother is the most important job you have, don’t let it be the only thing that defines you. Time for yourself is more difficult to find if you are the sole caretaker of your kids.

Use the resources that you have to devote time to self-care, and you and your kids will thank you for it in the long run.

7. Stay organized

With so many things to juggle, great organizational skills are an absolute must in order to keep everything moving smoothly. Use apps such as Mint for your finances, Mealime for meal planning, and Cozi as a family organizer for everything from appointments and shopping lists to after school activities.

Maintain constant contact if you are sharing custody so that it is clearly communicated who will be responsible for what when it comes to your kids. Follow consistent routines in the morning and nighttime so that your kids also know what to expect on a daily basis.

8. Be flexible (Don’t be a control freak)

Although it is important to be prepared and stay organized, things don’t always go according to plan.

When kids get sick and have to stay home or babysitters cancel at the last minute, allow for flexibility by having a contingency plan for childcare and with your employer.

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For example, make a list of people you can call when you need last minute childcare, or talk to your boss in advance about working from home when emergencies come up.

Most of all, don’t let unexpected changes stress you out and ruin your day.

9. Learn to say no (Don’t feel guilty)

Single mothers have limitations in time, energy and resources that families with two parents wouldn’t be able to understand. Because of these circumstances, it’s important you let go of feelings of guilt and stop trying to do everything and be everywhere.

You don’t have to say yes to every single birthday party your child is invited to. Your kids don’t have to be involved in sports and extracurricular activities every night of the week.

Limit the things you do to only the ones that are the most enjoyable and meaningful for you and your family. Doing more things does not make you a better mother; simply a more tired one.

10. Live within your means

When you have to raise your family on a single income, budgeting and spending within your means becomes more important than ever.

If you have outstanding debt that is accruing interest, make it a priority to pay those off as soon as possible. Outlining a budget is the best way to visualize how much money is being spent every month on various things and what is left over.

Find ways to save money on the necessities by looking for sales at the grocery store, buying some things secondhand, planning out meals.

After the necessary bills are paid, determine how much can be spent on luxury items such as eating out, vacations, and going to the movies.

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Don’t let finances be a source of anxiety for you and your family. Keep your bank account in good shape while teaching your kids how to spend money responsibly at the same time.

11. Spend quality time with your kids

The time you spend with your kids is so precious and much more limited as a single mother. Make the time that you spend with your kids count.

Rather than sitting in front of the TV, take them on fun and budget-friendly outings to the park, the playground, or a museum. Use meal times as the perfect excuse to ask them about what they are learning in school and the friends they spend time with.

When your kids ask you to play with them, look at it as a privilege and an opportunity to bond with them, rather than a distraction or waste of time. Be present when you are with them, with no work or multitasking on your mind. Your relationship with your kids will absolutely reap the benefits.

Final thoughts

Being a single mother is not an easy job. That’s why it’s important to use all the resources available to you in order to make this job a little bit easier.

Using technology, an organization system and a supportive community are just a few examples of things you should utilize to your benefit. It’s also important to shift your mindset and be more practical when it comes to things like priorities and finances.

Most of all, don’t forget about your own self care. Only when you take care of yourself can you best take care of the people you love.

Single mothers are some of the most hard-working people out there, and you deserve to have a happy and fulfilling life.

Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

Reference

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