There is no shortage of first time mom advice out there. We fill up our heads with all we can learn about breastfeeding, swaddling, baby-wearing options, sleep schedules, all the best gear, and everything in between.
However, looking back, there are way more important first time mom tips I wish I had known as a young mom.
In this post, I will walk you through the foremost lessons I’ve learned in motherhood that go beyond your standard first time mom tips.
This is the most important first time mom advice you need, what I really wish I had known…
Motherhood will not make you whole
If you are going to get one key takeaway from this post, I hope it will be this one. Motherhood will not make you whole.
Before becoming a mother, I had always felt like something was missing in my life. I felt unfulfilled in my career and I hadn’t yet managed to find what I was truly passionate about.
Furthermore, I had ceased actively trying to figure out what lit me up and I often felt like I was just going through the motions.
When I decided to have my first child, I had the false misconception that becoming a mother would fill that void for me and make me whole.
You often hear women talk about being “lost in motherhood” and they’re usually talking about feeling overwhelmed with all of the demands of motherhood and struggling to maintain their sense of identity.
In my view, you can’t be “lost in motherhood” if you were never found in the first place. How can you lose your sense of identity if you were never clear on what it was before entering motherhood?
You can try to let motherhood be everything for you, but if you are not a whole person with a clear picture of who you are when you become a mother, then the role of mother and the responsibilities of motherhood will only mask this void for a short while.
It will eventually catch up to you. At least it did for me.
Once my kids were not babies anymore and their needs were not all-consuming, I still felt unfulfilled in the same areas of life as I had prior to becoming a mother.
Our society touts this idea of the “selfless mother” who does everything for her child. But letting motherhood be your only identity and not cultivating a sense of self that is independent of this is not what is going to make you a good mother.
Spending all of your time and energy making organic baby food from scratch, reading all the parenting books, and doing the full drawn out bedtime routine complete with bath, books, and songs EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. without fail is great if that makes you feel fulfilled.
For me, it didn’t and I would argue that this is a band-aid, one that only leads to feelings of burnout and the eventuality that this season of life will come to an end. Who will you be then?
Therefore, I believe that it’s imperative to make sure you are thriving in your own life first and foremost.
If you are fulfilled, have joy and passion in your life, and your needs are being met, then you’re able to bring your best self to the table and be the best mom for your children.
Granted, this is no easy feat and for me, it takes constant effort, but if you’re able to achieve this, or at least continuously strive for it, it can have an enormous positive impact on how you parent, your relationship with your children, and how they see you.
Motherhood alone cannot make you whole; you must do that for yourself.
Find moments of joy
Something else I wish I would have known is that it’s ok to feel like you’re not enjoying motherhood at every turn.
That is totally normal and there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re struggling! We all are, even if we look picture perfect to the outside world.
Overall, I love being a mom, but I also used to think I was supposed to enjoy it everyday and well, I just didn’t (and still don’t).
It’s hard being a mom. We all know it’s exhausting and let’s be honest, sometimes it’s really boring too!
I wish I would have known that it was ok to feel this way AND to still try to seek out moments of joy in the journey. I think there’s a difference between finding joy in it versus enjoying it.
Also, it’s normal not to love every phase of this motherhood journey. You might be overwhelmed with the baby or toddler phase right now, but know that it gets better.
Needing help does not make you less than
As moms, we are often resistant to asking for and accepting help from others. We think it makes us seem less capable or like we can’t handle things on our own.
Another reason I think we’re oftentimes reluctant to accept help is because we know the other person won’t do things exactly as we would. Therefore we reject offers of help and instead drive ourselves crazy trying to do it all.
I’ve learned that it’s ok to let certain things go and let others help you in their way. As long as your kids are healthy and safe, take help when it’s offered and accept whatever the person is able and willing to give.
Whether it is caring for the baby, helping you around the house, bringing you food, or simply holding your baby for an hour so you can shower and take a nap, it’s ok to seek out and accept help as a mom.
Also, if you can afford it, there’s no shame in hiring help if you need it or doing a swap with another mom.
Once your children get a little older, this continues to be important because when you’re exhausted and depleted, it shows. Your child becomes another task on your to-do list and they can feel that vibe from you. They can feel your impatience, your exhaustion, your anxiety and overwhelm.
Asking for and accepting help does not make you less of a mother. On the contrary, it makes you a better mother because you’re able to be more present with your children when you’re not constantly coming from a place of exhaustion and overwhelm.
Motherhood is not a competition
We sometimes get caught up in feeling like motherhood is a competition in who can run themselves the most ragged.
I hear so many moms talking about how tired they are, how much they do, how little time they have for themselves. I know this is par for the course with being a mom, but we should not look at these aspects as if they are a badge of honor to wear.
Motherhood is many things, but it should not be a competition as to who has it the worst or who is doing the most.
Furthermore, we each have the capacity to handle different size loads at varying times of our lives depending on what else we may be dealing with. This is going to change with the ages of our children, our work circumstances, health, family obligations, and many other circumstances that will affect how much we are able to do.
As moms, we need to support one another, not compete with or judge one another or ourselves for how much we can or cannot handle.
You manifest your kids
Before you write this one off as being too “woo woo”, all I mean by this is that your kids feed off your vibe and energy.
The energy you give to a situation is going to be the energy you get back. It took me a long time to learn this concept in life and as it relates to how I parent.
For example, like all of you, I’m utterly exhausted by the time my kids are going to bed. I have the tendency to let this show through by barking orders and trying to rush them into bed.
The energy I’m putting into the bedtime situation is annoyance, impatience, and stress. In return, my kids usually wind up acting in the exact opposite way that I want them to by getting super hyper and resisting going to bed because they are feeding off of my negative energy.
The times when I’ve managed the peace of mind to come from a calm and loving place at bedtime, I find that they actually cooperate much better and it’s a much more positive experience for all of us.
When you change your energy to the energy you want, it’s much more likely you’ll receive it back. The same set of actions can feel totally different depending on your perception and energy you bring to the situation.
This is your partner’s parenthood journey too
If you are in a co-parenting relationship, you and your partner may have different parenting styles that can cause disagreements and friction, but it’s important to let him/her parent in a way that feels good to them.
This is your partner’s parenthood journey too. Why should you alone get to decide what’s right or wrong?
As long as your values align, I’ve learned it’s ok to have different parenting styles. At the end of the day, you both have the same goal – what is best for your children.
Realize that you can learn from each other and are able to offer different things to your children that are unique to your styles and personalities.
Of course, this is a different conversation if you’re doing all the hard stuff and your partner is only doing the fun stuff, you’re falling into unhealthy patterns, or you are constantly clashing because you have completely different values or beliefs.
Kids are resilient
We all make mistakes and mess up, but don’t fret over the little missteps and mishaps along the way. You are not going to break your baby or scar your kids for life.
Kids are resilient.
Furthermore, seeing that you make mistakes and move on from them, actually teaches your children this resiliency and to realize that it’s ok when they make their own mistakes.
This is not to negate that there are unhealthy and/or abusive behaviors from parents that certainly are damaging to children, but the little missteps we make along the way will be forgiven and forgotten most of the time.
First Time Mom Tips (What I Wish I Had Known)
These are the lessons from motherhood I wish I had known sooner. Perhaps they would have made things a bit easier, but in retrospect, maybe that’s not the point of this journey.
Maybe it’s best that we each gain what we learn from motherhood through experience and finding our way. What do you think?
Is there any first time mom advice you wish you had known? Share your most important first time mom tips below.
Interested in what other advice I’d tell a younger version of myself? Check out this related post: “This is 40(ish): A Letter to My Younger Self”.
Carly is a wife, mom, and former fashion industry executive turned blogger, who is on a journey to live life as the best version of herself. Through her website, littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice and heartfelt insights to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life.