My daughter Megan is having a baby! I am thrilled and having so much fun anticipating his (it’s a boy) arrival. As she prepares for the day, my mind is exploding with thoughts and advice—things I learned on the journey raising five kids. It’s not that I think I know best; there are just many things that I learned along the way and would do differently. I am reigning it in on the advice because she will be a different mom than me and he will be a different child.
But in case Megan and any other new or nostalgic moms are reading this, here’s my advice.
Milestones aren’t set in stone.
It’s so easy to get very worried about your baby hitting developmental milestones. You look up information on the internet, you compare what your baby is doing with what your friend’s baby is doing, you can even doubt your doctor’s reassurance when she offers it to you.
Milestones are just ballpark guidelines. Some children walk at nine months, others at 18 months. There is a range of normal and just because your child is closer to the far edge of normal, it can still be okay. If you do have real concerns, ask your pediatrician, not your neighbor or your best friend.
Perfection is overrated.
As a new mom, I wanted to make sure I did everything right. Naturally, that meant I wanted my baby to do everything right. When she attempted something, I focused on the end result. The new mom advice I offer in this area is that the process is way more important than the result. I think it’s better to let the child try it by herself. It’s okay if she struggles a little bit or gets an imperfect result. Help her to find joy in the effort of learning and growing, not just in the finished product.
It’s okay to be different.
Having a community of friends and family who love and support you and your child is great…to a point. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in what everybody else is doing. “Oh! All of my friends’ babies are in swim class…I’d better sign up!” “All of my friends’ babies are going to this school… I’d better get registered!” When I was raising my kids I was part of a social group where most of the moms did the same playgroups, activities, and schools. When it dawned on me that what was right for their children may not be right for mine, it was so freeing. It’s okay to make your own path that varies from your social circle and even the current culture. Which leads to the next point…
The Pitfalls of Social Media
Social media can cause real harm to new moms, so use it with caution; better yet, stay off it as much as you can when you’re in the new-mom phase. You’re going to be physically tired and more prone to feeling blue, so looking at other new moms on social media and comparing yourself and your child to them and their babies isn’t really helpful.
Grace, grace, and more grace.
You are the right mom for your child. God gave you this child because He knew you were what your baby needed. It’s most important that you don’t second guess yourself and wonder if you’re good enough for your child. Show yourself the same grace and kindness you’re showing your new baby. Your baby’s learning to be a person, and you’re learning to be a mom. I remember being so hard on myself and focusing on even my tiniest missteps as a mother. Lost in all of that was the big picture…I was loving my child every day.
Tell us! What are your words of encouragement for new moms?