I know quite a few of you guys are getting ready to have babies or you’ve recently had babies and you’re probably sick of hearing other people tell you how to parent. But rest assured, this is not that kind of advice. This is advice you can use. Real advice. From a somewhat seasoned mom and one who, by most societal standards, did absolutely everything wrong and has a kid who turned out just fine. Seriously, she’s fine. She probably won’t even need therapy when she’s older. So I figure that’s good.
And I figure it also qualifies me to tell you guys some things.
Jana’s Rules for New Moms (Or, Jana’s Suggestions For New Moms Because It’s Your Kid and You Do What You Want)
- Shower. No one feels good when they’re covered in filth. There’s always 5 minutes to do that, even if you can’t wash your hair. That’s why there’s ponytails and dry shampoo. And also, there’s no badge of honor for being dirty.
- Sleep. My god, please sleep. I know it’s hard but a few hours here and there makes a world of difference. And if you have a difficult baby and YOU’RE tired, it makes taking care of that baby even more difficult.
- Eat. Food is awesome, starving yourself is not. It’s actually a terrible idea. Hangry mom + cranky baby = UGLY situation.
- Feed your kid. Common sense, right? But I need to add that you should feed your kid in any manner that works for you. Breast feed, formula feed, combination of the two. Whatever. DO NOT let anyone make you feel guilty for how you choose to feed your kid. Because in the long run, it doesn’t really matter how they were fed. All that matters is that they’re eating. My child was formula fed from day 1–DAY 1–and she is healthy and strong and smart.
- Ask for help when you need it. It’s hard to do it alone, even if it feels like you’re the only one who can possibly take care of that baby. But it is stressful as fuck and sometimes, you need a break. Take one. Let the kid’s dad do the middle of the night feeding if he can or have a trusted friend or relative come over so you can shower and nap. Not sure if your baby needs to go to the doctor? Call the pediatrician and ask the nurse. Ask an experienced mom how to handle teething or reflux. It is okay to ask for help and no one–NO ONE–will see you as weak or stupid because you couldn’t figure it out. We’ve all been there.
- Tune out the critics. No matter what you do, there will be those who will criticize your choices or act like they’re better than you for whatever inane reason parents are competing these days. But you know your kid and you know you’re doing the best you can. You already know you’re a good parent and fuck the people who say you aren’t.
- Keep your non-mom friends. I know I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll keep mentioning it because it’s that important. Believe me, mom friends serve their purpose. It’s nice to have people to commiserate with about diapers and daycare and mommy guilt and all those godforsaken loud ass toys and horrible kids’ shows and all the shit and nonsense that comes with being a mom. It’s a huge part of who you are now. You can’t deny that. HOWEVER.It is so nice to have a conversation with someone that doesn’t revolve around those topics. It is so nice to have a lunch or a drink with a friend who wants to talk about everything and anything that’s not kids. Kids are awesome but they are not the sum of life. Don’t let the fact that you reproduced and a friend didn’t rip a hole in your friendship. I 100% guarantee you can still relate to each other. (And P.S., anyone who tells you that you don’t live or know what love is until you’ve had kids is a complete and utter asshole. Don’t be that person).
- Stay yourself. Confession: a pet peeve of mine is being introduced as E’s mom (as in, “hi, new mom I’ve never met before. I’m E’s mother”). NO. I am Jana. Yes, I am her mother but I am Jana before that. I am my own person. Because being someone’s mom is not all you are. You do yourself a complete disservice to shut off who you were before that kid was born. Just because you’re a mom now doesn’t mean you can’t read or listen to loud, angry music or go to the gym or watch violent, inappropriate shows or wear makeup or dress up for no reason at all or have a beer at home on a Friday night or travel or do anything else you like to do. Sure, you might have to make better overall choices when you’re doing those other things but do not forget to do them. It’s okay to have goals that don’t involve your kid. It’s okay to want things you wanted before she was born. TRUST ME. If you stay yourself, you’ll be a better parent overall. Your kid cannot be your whole life. It’s not healthy.
- Pre-pregnancy weight. It’s a good, noble goal. But I caution you if you’re pressuring yourself to get there immediately. That’s nonsense. YOU JUST EXPELLED ANOTHER HUMAN FROM YOUR BODY. Give it time to heal. Let it do what it needs to. Take care of yourself, sure, but don’t worry if it takes a year to see those pre-baby pants (and, fun fact, even if you get back down to your pre-pregnancy weight, your pants still might not fit because, like it or not, everything changes and you might look a little different) instead of 4 months. We’ve gotten to the point where we revere and glorify the women who “bounce back” immediately and I think that’s ridiculous.
- Avoid comparisons. Don’t do it. Don’t compare anything about your situation to anyone else’s. Every person, every baby, every pregnancy is different and none of them look the same. Comparing what you have to what you see on FB or IG or Pinterest or in mommy groups (which, fun fact, I completely avoided, mostly for this reason) is nonsense and most of it is a fucking lie anyway. You’re awesome, your baby is awesome, and fuck anyone who disagrees.
Now. I want to address postpartum depression. It is a very real, very serious, very scary thing. I’ve seen it happen to people I care about. If you feel depressed, even slightly, take it seriously. Talk to your doctor. Get help. Don’t pass it off as “the baby blues” or excuse it by saying you’re tired or hungry or stressed or something else. You know what those feel like and postpartum depression is nothing like that. It is okay to admit you’re depressed; no one who matters will shame you for it. And if they do, you don’t need them.
So, that’s all. Pretty simple. Take care of yourself, take care of your baby how you see fit, ask for help when you need it, and do whatever is right for you, your baby, your budget, and your situation. If you do that, you’ll be just fine.
Anything I left off the list?