Becoming a mom for the first time is both scary and exciting. There are a lot of unknowns, and while we want to do our best for our kids, it’s just not easy to know exactly what to do, even if we prepare as much as possible. If you’re anything like I was, you’re eager for information, especially from parents who have been there before you.
Thankfully, lots of amazing mommies are excited to help other moms! To create a resource of advice, I asked 50 mommy bloggers the same question:
“What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had told you before you became a first-time parent?”
Here are their responses!
“I wish someone I respected would have impressed on me that I’m not going to know everything…ever…and that’s okay. Your kids won’t expect you to be perfect, but they will expect love and mothers have that in spades. The most important asset you have as a mother is your intuition.
Don’t let anyone talk you into something you know in your gut to be wrong. Listen to that voice inside you when it comes to making decisions. The rest will work itself out. Oh, and breastfeeding didn’t come easy for me. So while other moms looked like madonnas, I was grimacing for months and months in pain. So if that is you, its only a snapshot in time and then it’s over. Just keep trying.”
“It’s going to be so much fun! You hear the stories of stress and no sleep and of the big powerful love, but rarely do new parents tell you about all the giggles. I’ve become a much lighter and happier person after having kids. And though there are plenty of challenges, there’s also lots more laughter in the house.”
“Whatever you feel, ‘it’s okay’. If you’re too tired to get dressed, it’s okay. If you’re on you’re fourth takeaway of the week, it’s okay. If you don’t want to leave the house, it’s okay. If you don’t want visitors, it’s okay. If you let your baby sleep on you, it’s okay. If you pick your baby up every time it cries, it’s okay. If you need a night out with your friends, it’s okay. If you don’t really know what you’re doing, it’s okay. It’s ALL okay.
There’s no perfect way of doing things and there’s certainly no such thing as a perfect parent. Love your child, be kind to yourself and it will all be okay. I promise.”
“When I became a first-time parent, I wish someone had given me the cabbage trick. Yes when breast-feeding, cabbage drastically reduces the pain and milk supply. Lord I needed that advice. :-) I also never imagined, the amount of personal time one must give up selflessly to become an attentive and successful parent. I was only 19 when I became a parent, I learned quickly.”
“Take more photos and videos! I thought we were taking so many but I wish now we had more. Make sure to print them all out and burn the videos to a disc so your kids can watch them when they are older.”
“I wish someone had explained ‘Worst-First Thinking’ to me. It’s our national habit of jumping to the WORST case scenario FIRST and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen. So now we think like this: ‘I COULD leave my child in the car for 5 minutes while I pick up the pizza, but WHAT IF HE’S KIDNAPPED? Or WHAT IF he somehow dies of heat exhaustion?
Or WHAT IF he dies some other strange and awful way? I would feel SO SAD and SO GUILTY! I better take him out!’ We do that with almost every aspect of childhood: “I COULD let her walk to school, but what if she’s abducted?” ‘I could let him drink from a plastic cup, but what if it gives him cancer?’
Nervousness is normal, but using this particular template to decide every aspect of our child’s lives is NEW and it can drive a caring parent NUTS.”
“I wish someone would have told me how fast it all goes. I blinked and my oldest children are racing on their own and becoming tweens that don’t really need me anymore. With my third and last child, I understand time a little better and am embracing every moment, every hug, every tear with a very different perspective.”
“Co-sleeping with your baby makes life easier and sweeter. Don’t worry about the debate over whether or not to co-sleep. Follow your natural instinct and enjoy being close to your baby.”
“A new mom is a magnet to conflicting unsolicited advice by well-meaning people; however, this happens at a very vulnerable time and can result in confusion, stress, and overwhelm.
Everyone seems to have different idea, opinion, and a ‘right’ way of doing things, from pregnancy to birth, to rearing kids. I wish someone told me to do my own research, trust my instincts, and to have confidence in my ability to be a mother to my own child. The best words an expecting mom or new mom can hear are ‘you can do it’ and ‘you are enough,’ yet so much focus goes into what we need to do, what we should do, or what we are lacking to be a “good mom.”
I quickly learned to ‘smile and wave’ as I ignored advice that I considered outdated or just didn’t resonate with me. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to choose to be entertained instead of offended or insulted, and that has helped a lot, especially as a very unconventional mom of young kids. As moms, we are subject to a lot of judgment and are measured by standards of perfection or superhuman performance. I know I don’t know everything, I appreciate the intention, and will even dig deeper if something sparks my curiosity; however, I ultimately live and parent on my own terms.”
“I wish someone would have told me that there is no shame in asking for help. Ask for it! Being a new mom is hard work, and there are always friends and family members who are happy to lend a hand.”
“In keeping with the theme of our site, I’ll say that I wish I knew how important it was to get out of the house Every Single Day even when it seems easier just to stay home. We both found that our days lost shape when dealing with the schedule of a newborn, so a little sunshine (even through cold weather) is so great for a mom’s mood.”
“I wish I’d known that babies don’t need baths that often. I read all these bedtime routines for newborns and they all included a bath for a ‘calming effect.’ Except my son hated baths and would flip out once he hit the water.Once I figured out that he was a newborn and not part of the Deadliest Catch crew we just had a wipe down as needed and a bath when the mood struck us. Nothing fell off or rotted and our routine was much smoother.”
“Nobody’s perfect. We all want to be the ‘perfect parent’ and raise ‘perfect children’ but that is not possible. We make mistakes and we learn from them. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, even if you think someone is a better parent than you.
Each parent does things differently, it doesn’t make them any better or worse than other parents. Just because your neighbor’s little boy started to walk at 10 months and your child is 11 months old and still crawling does NOT mean you did something wrong. It’s just that your child is developing differently than another child.”
“I became a mom at age 20 and was completely clueless about babies! I remember being shocked that my daughter didn’t sleep through the night. Reality hit hard and I had many, many sleepless nights for months. I wish someone had told me to expect to be sleep deprived and to sleep when the baby sleeps – even if it means letting the housework go during the day.”
“Start saving every penny you can, because the older children become, the more expensive they become!”
“Really enjoy the milestones and read to your children from an early age. This really helps with development and growth.”
“It’s okay to be less than perfect.”
“Get off your high horse with the ‘never, never, nevers’ because you’re going to make a fool of yourself and end up with enough mommy guilt to fill Cinderella’s castle.
Like, don’t go around saying ‘oh, my child will NEVER watch more than 10 minutes of TV a day’ because I guarantee you, the first time you actually want to do something normal like blow dry your hair, paint your nails or use the bathroom without an audience, the TV becomes your best friend. Or, ‘my child will NEVER drink a sugary juice, I’ll only give them fresh-squeezed!’ Really? Are you going to carry oranges in your pocket to every birthday party?
The higher you build your ‘perfect mom’ pedestal, the further you have to fall. Having healthy goals is great, but be realistic and for goodness sake, keep those lofty ‘never nevers’ to yourself so no one can say ‘I told you so!’ if they fail.”
“Let people help out. Don’t try and do everything yourself!I always tried to do everything myself because I was a first-time parent and thought I had to. By the time the twins came, I was definitely letting people help out with everything!”
“I wish someone would’ve told me to only buy half of the stuff I thought I needed, because chances are the baby will only end up using a quarter of it. There’s so much out on the market today, but only so little of it is really truly needed.”
“It’s going to sound simple and cliche, but it’s true: I wish someone had told me to ‘trust my gut.’ Your gut and instincts will take you far in knowing what’s right and best for your own kids. Every child is different and no one knows yours better than you. Trust yourself!”
“This may sound silly but I didn’t do much research on breastfeeding. I just assumed it was pretty straight forward. And it was, until milk started squirting unbidden from my nipples! I would say do a bit of reading on the topic and get some breast pads to have on hand.
I also got a small breast infection which my midwife suggested I treat by eating raw garlic and pumping but I was totally clueless on that as well until it happened to me. I recommend having a breastfeeding resource to consult.”
“Babies actually don’t require much more than a lot of onesies and diapers, and if it’s cold weather more clothing…I spent a LOT of money on gadgets and clothing that was never used or worn. Babies just need to be warm, fed, and loved ;-)”
“I wish they’d told me how intrusive strangers could be and that it’s perfectly fine (smart even) to ignore all their unsolicited advice.”
“Enjoy every single moment. It goes by so quickly. Document with pictures, videos and journal. Don’t sweat the small stuff and just embrace each moment.”
“Sleep as much as possible before baby arrives, as there will be little to NO sleep (in my case at least) for about 3 years! I was busy cleaning and doing chores, etc., up until the minute my kids were born. I later regretted not resting more.”
“This too shall pass! No matter how tough the day, the week, the month or the year. No matter how enjoyable the moment, the stage or the age. Nothing lasts forever. Treasure every second, even the ones you’d rather forget.”
“I wish someone would have told me about leaky breasts, sore nipples, and all the challenges of starting nursing for the very first time. I wasn’t prepared for that and it made getting started breastfeeding frustrating and emotional.”
“Don’t forget to have fun. So many friends, family members, and strangers say that time flies and kids grow up fast and while they do, it’s important to find the fun in the everyday to create lasting memories for you and your children.”
“I remember when my boys were little and it felt like I would be in that time forever. Not sleeping, poopy diapers, the crying and everything else that goes along with having a little one.
But you know what, it’s over and done in a heartbeat. One minute they’re completely dependent on you for every part of their existence and the next minute they have grown into wanting independence and can do it on their own. I remember people telling me that it goes so fast and enjoy every minute of it but I want to tell you It goes TOO fast and you need to enjoy every second of it.
Smile more, stress less, and have fun because these are the best days of your life. Hugs!”
“I wish someone would have talked to me about the trials of breastfeeding. I had no idea that it could be painful and I wasn’t mentally prepared for that. The good news is, I overcame the challenges and successfully breastfed 3 babies and it was completely worth it!
Now as an experienced mom, I try to offer expectant or new moms an opportunity to talk about breastfeeding and give gentle advice and words of encouragement.”
“Be prepared to learn and research on how to parent. There are many obstacles that will come along in every age and nobody teaches us what’s the best way to overcome them. I’ve found books and even classes that helped in many situations but its nice to keep learning along the way!”
“I wish someone had told me that pregnancy can be terrible. Not everyone glows. Not everyone feels better in the second trimester. And not everyone is happy. Pregnancy for me was a terrifying time – preterm labor, excruciating pain – filled with loneliness because everyone I knew had had a lovely pregnancy.
It all turned out wonderful in the end and my two stressful pregnancies produced healthy boys, but I wish I knew that there were other people out there going through the same thing I was going through.”
“You don’t have to be ‘perfect’ and there is no such thing as perfect parenting. You will make mistakes along the way. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and to forgive yourself for them.”
“I feel like there was a ton of stuff that I was completely clueless about prior to having my first child. I would say, though, if I had to choose only one, that the best thing you could do is take a breastfeeding class before having your child, if you plan on breastfeeding. Contrary to what many moms say, it doesn’t come naturally for everyone, certainly not for me!”
“Enjoy every second, even the crying and fits. They grow so fast and you won’t be able to able to hold them and cuddle with them always. Gracie is 13 now and I’d love for her to come and crawl into my lap!”
“Don’t get stuck on name brands. There are so many great brands out there, including store brands that are just as good!”
“It’s hard to believe that this month my oldest child will turn 30 years old! My three children have been my greatest teachers in life, and my biggest joy. Babies don’t come with a manual when they are born, and I have made some parenting mistakes along the way.
When I was young, newly married, and in love I didn’t realize the importance of consistency in parenting (although my wise mom had warned me).
At first, the differences in our parenting seemed rather harmless. For example, when I’d say ‘no’ to that piece of sugary bubble gum, and my husband would say ‘yes’. To him, it was easier to say ‘yes’ rather than to deal with a whining child. I was the one setting boundaries, and my husband was undoing them.
But let me say, this lack of consistency with boundaries was a fundamental flaw in our parenting, and in our marriage. As the kids grew, so did their need for safe boundaries, and my husband’s lack of them. After 23 years, our marriage ended.
It is difficult to co-parent with a permissive partner. Pick your mate wisely, be on the same page, and be consistent.”
“My biggest piece of advice is to follow your instincts, follow your gut, because it’s always going to leave you in the right direction. Also if I can add one more piece of advice is to not make them rush to grow up it happens too fast.”
“Don’t stress over the small things and cherish each day of every stage.”
“Ignore all unsolicited advice! And then, ignore a bunch of the solicited advice, too! With very few exceptions, we already have the answers and instincts on how to best care for our child.
Certainly politely thank those who freely dispense their advice, then accept and apply what wisdom you feel is appropriate. Unless their advice is that they should complete all your chores and babysit for you while you take a nap – by all means, this counsel should always be considered!”
“Don’t try to do everything perfectly or ‘right.’ Do what your gut tells you and what feels right for you!”
Lauren of Run Salt Run
“It’s okay to feel sad and frustrated. Having a baby is about the biggest life change you can go through and having a whole range of emotions about it is totally normal.
All I ever heard was these stories about the immense love I would feel for my daughter so when I had moments of wanting to hide in my room and cry I was left feeling like the worst person on the planet. I felt like I should want to spend every waking moment with her, but I didn’t and that feeling was very isolating.
I was embarrassed to talk about it with anyone because I didn’t want anyone to think I was a horrible mother. Now it’s a conversation I’ve had with several friends who struggled in the beginning too.”
“Trust your ‘mom-tuition’, even when it’s challenged by professionals, because you know your child better than anyone!”
“I wish someone had told me to maintain my hobbies and passions after I had my first baby. I wasn’t sure I could do both, be a good mom and still ski and take vacations. After I had challenges with anxiety the first two years of motherhood, I realized I needed to get the real-me back. The real me was calm, confident and very active.
Once I started to do mommy-cherishing activities again, I got my pre-baby self back. I do believe my kids are better for it.”
“Just just relax and do everything how you want to do it. If you have questions… ask Google!”
“When I became a first-time parent I was all about name brand and brand new-everything. This went for diapers, wipes, baby gear, etc. Now that I’m a mom for the second time, I use store brand diapers and wipes as often as possible, hand-me-down clothes and used baby gear.”
“I wish someone would have told me it would be EASY. Perhaps, if someone had said that, I would have went into parenthood feeling more confident!”
“Trust your instincts. A mother’s intuition is a real thing and remember, mother always knows best.”
“Enjoy every minute of it. They will be grown and in college before you know it. Often times we don’t take time to stop and smell the roses. If you don’t take time, you’re going to miss the sweetest moments of life.”
I want to thank all the amazing moms who took part in this group interview for their amazing answers and for making this such a great and helpful resource for moms-to-be!
If you’re a new mom or a mom-to-be, I wish you best of luck! Don’t be afraid to ask for advice; we’re all in this together.
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