Jana Says

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Ten simple rules for new moms

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)

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. Eat. Food is awesome, starving yourself is not. It’s actually a terrible idea. Hangry mom + cranky baby = UGLY situation.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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). 
  8. 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.
  9. 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. 
  10. 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? 

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  1. Elle

    You nailed it! And this is coming from a non-mom but who knows plenty of them. I’ve seen it hurt marital relationships–like, you said, you are Jana, not just E’s mom. It’s hard not to get stuck in the Mom All the Time mode. I’ve lost a lot of gfs that way and I miss them.

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Quite frankly, most of my non-mom friends are more interesting. I love my kid but I cannot talk about her all the time. I want to talk about other stuff. I can’t imagine giving them up simply because we made different reproductive choices.

  2. Rebecca Jo

    I had a friend that battled postpartum & it was horrible to watch. She just couldnt believe it was happening to her. It was when she finally accepted its not something you control, she got help for it. I hate there is a stigma to it. It’s the whole “Too Blessed to be depressed/stressed” idea – I LOATHE that. LIke its JUST & ONLY a choice to make. UGH

    1. Jana (Post author)

      That phrase is not helpful. I get why people might need it to get through on a bad day or in a rut but it does nothing to help those who are legit suffering.

  3. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    All the hands in the air emojis for #8 and all of them really, but especially that one.

    1. Jana (Post author)

      I figured you’d like that one.

  4. Lauren

    I basically had someone unfriend me because she took offense to me not wanting to have kids. That experience affected me, to where I feel like I need to be EXTRA interested in my friends’ kids. I think as a non-mom, it’s hard to know how much to ask to show interest in the thing your mom friend loves most while not making it ALL about your kid. I would love your thoughts on that! Especially because I’m about to become the only kidless one in one of my friend groups and I need to make sure they keep me around!

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Why would someone unfriend you because you’re making a different choice? That’s ridiculous.

      As for your question, I think it depends on the mom. I’m fine with a few questions and sometimes I just need to vent but there are some moms who want to talk about nothing else but the kid. I’d say just read the situation and roll with it.

  5. Christina

    YES! Shower and sleep and eat and all that for sure, but please still be yourself! You will not have a happy life if you lose yourself in your kids. All of my long-time friends are child-less and it was an adjustment at first (they couldn’t understand why II wasn’t able to go out for drinks at 10:00 pm on a Tuesday), but I’m so thankful for them.

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Agreed. If the child was my whole life, I’d be miserable because she’s 10 and loves to do her own thing. Losing yourself in your kid just sets yourself up for disappointment and depression later on.

  6. Heather

    I totally love this Jana!!! And with #8, I think it is really important for kids to see you doing your own thing and being your own person because that fosters independence in them too!! Most of my friends now have kids, but that’s just the way life is…I definitely still enjoy TONS of interactions with friends in real life and online who are childless because I really feel like our friendship is based on other interests and not just on the fact that we both have children.
    Heather recently posted…Recent Reads (SUYB 2017)My Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      YES! Seeing moms have their own identity definitely sets a good example. I always forget that.

  7. Brittany Pines

    I like this. I shared an article on FB this morning about a mom who was freaking out that her 10 month old stopped sleeping through the night. She was so concerned about what to do until her peditrician finally told her “It’s okay, it happens, sometimes babies don’t sleep.” That was much more helpful for her (and to me!) than “Are you doing this? What about that? And you should really XYZ.”

    Fun fact- my comment when I shared the article was how much I needed to hear “It’s okay” versus advice…and not a SINGLE PERSON has liked it (although if I say something about my kid, it’s full of advice).

    1. Jana (Post author)

      I will never understand why people are okay with dishing out advice but reassuring someone or making them feel better is impossible.

  8. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    I don’t have kids yet, but I feel like I constantly see so much comparison out in the world today. We’re all so different so nothing is going to work the exact same way for another person, so why do we feel the need to compare? I also love the one about showering that there’s no badge for being dirty!

  9. ShootingStarsMag

    I don’t have kids of my own, but I do have two nieces and a nephew and almost half of my friends have kids so they are a big part of my life still. I do think moms should keep their non-mom friends, and I feel like most of my friends do well with that! Your kids can’t be your whole entire life, no matter how much you love them. You have to have an identity all your own.

    ALSO- totally ask for help! Seriously. I know when one of my friends had her first baby, her husband would be out of town sometimes for work and she invited me over a couple nights just to be there and help if she needed it. It’s okay. We’re happy to help when we can!

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Off Base by Annabeth Albert + Long Shadows by Kate SherwoodMy Profile

  10. Audrey

    Coming from a non-mom, I love this list. So many of our friends are having babies and these are all things I’ve seen them need- both consciously and subconsciously. It’s actually tough, as a non-mom, to stay friends with moms sometimes because they either a) only want to be with their kids (which I understand) or b) fill their time with other moms. I know it’s a balancing act for them, so I just wait and keep up the friendship through texting and IG photos until they realize they’d like to get coffee or wine and chat about politics or a book they recently read- not Daniel the Tiger and fruit pouches 🙂
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  11. Nadine

    Showering, eating and sleeping used to be given…simple actions in my life that became exponentially harder!!! I had never forgotten to eat a meal before, but missed lunch nearly every day the first two weeks after I came home. I finally have my balance back now though. It is so important to take a few minutes for yourself each day because if you cant care for yourself, how can you care for someone else? That is what I tell myself anyways.

  12. kristen

    i think this is all fabulous advice, and i hope i’m able to remember it when the time comes. i know i will have a problem with asking for/accepting help. in my day to day life i’m very whatever, you do it, but when i own something and it’s MINE, i get super weirdly protective of it. like the mail is my job. KC can’t open the mail and i get mad if he does. i know it’s weird. i know. so i think the kid will be like the mail. hopefully not.
    also, my mum used to correct me or anyone else who called her ‘Kristen’s/Matt’s/Brian’s mum’ she’d be like my name is Lee. I will not answer to so and so’s mum. hahaha.

  13. Jenn @ Optimization, Actually

    I apparently didn’t comment before, but this post stuck in my head and I had to revisit because it was so spot on! Thanks for writing this. The first couple weeks were so incredibly stressful and trying to do everything “right” and it’s only now, almost 4 weeks in that I’m starting to relax and have a more go with the flow attitude about everything. I was debating writing a post about breast feeding, not to defend our choice (we combo BF and formula) but because as a first time mom, I was really taken aback at how damn hard it is. Lol! From the outside it just seems like a natural process, but then you actually do it and are all, “Huh, bleeding nipples. How about that?” And after all the people who told us, “You can’t run out of milk – your body always makes more” our son ended up not gaining enough weight the first 2 weeks of his life because he wasn’t getting enough calories. There’s really nothing simple about it.


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