Ethan turned a year and a half on Sunday.
I never thought I would have a baby… much less a toddler. So, to say the past 18 months have been enlightening and world- rocking would be the understatement of the century.
I post a ton of my thoughts on mama-ing on Facebook and Instagram and, I know I am nowhere as astute a mother as others but, I have come a long way- in mindset, and adulting in general.
Here are 18 tips and things I've learned over the past 18 months:
1. This shit is hard. I really had no idea, I thought babies just ate and slept. Ha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahah x 1 billion. It’s beyond hard some days- especially days where we didn’t slept much the night before or the little one is feeling subpar and screaming is the only thing he can manage. At one point my mom called it gritty and I think that sums it up nicely.
2. It’s also more amazing than I could have ever dreamed. Yeah, it’s indubitably challenging BUT, I would take every challenge handed to me just to experience the amazing times; the snuggles, the kisses, the sweet way he says mama, and how he stares at me as he’s falling asleep. I never thought such simple acts could bring me such delight.
3. You need friends and family more than you thought. I don’t know what I would do without my mom, sister and my close girlfriends. You need a tribe to bounce ideas off, complain to, cry to and share your silliest achievements with. In fact, I feel like a total piece of poop for not being there for them years ago when they were starting to have kids. So, to my closest friends- I wish I could take back being so absent… but I’m here now!
4. Mama-ing makes you vulnerable as fuck. I cry a lot more than I have in the past 36 years combined. Maybe it’s because I’m tired, or because I’m scared something could happen to my kid, or because I LOVE HIM SO MUCH, or because my husband is the best. I may never know. But, it’s a never ending wave of emotion. Be comfortable with riding that wave.
5. You’re never fully prepared… for any of it. Just when you think you’ve found a rhythm- something is bound to throw you a curve ball. Be open to this because, as I hear, it doesn’t stop for a while.
6. Follow your instincts. You can read ALL. THE. BOOKS., do all the research, and listen to all the advice but in the end, I’ve found that my gut has, for the most part been spot on. Likely, yours is too. It’s your kid, you have (most of) the answers. Trust yourself.
7. Kids don’t need fancy they need you. The whole adage about opening the gift and playing with the box is true. I save our toilet paper and paper towel rolls and the boxes from Costco for this exact reason.
8. Your body changes in the most astonishing and sometimes shitty ways after having a baby. Yes, my hips are wider and I still have issues with my back cracking unpleasantly, but I feel like I’m stronger and more resilient than I ever thought possible. I feel like at my most tired, I could lift a car if it fell on my kid. I am also more proud of my body and know, that no matter how much different it looks, it’s capable of amazing things. It’s called mama-power.
9. My priorities have shifted. I used to think I would compete in a figure competition at some point. And now, I look at my ice cream and laugh when I start thinking crazy thoughts. Obviously that’s a joke but, the point is- I don’t want to do anything that will require me to take a ton of time or energy away from my kid. Having E has really changed the focus on how I want to spend my time. Maybe it will change as he becomes more independent but, I’m not worried if it doesn’t.
10. Working out, is in general, harder. Not because of how my body has changed, but simply because I’m more exhausted. I don’t have the energy that I used to. I know this too will change but it is a daily challenge and one I struggle to overcome.
11. You have to make time to move… and breathe. I can’t say this enough. Take a walk, do yoga, lift weights, jump rope, go for a run, swim, dance, hike… just move. You will be a better version of yourself; more confident and happier, for granting yourself this time.
12. You need to be selfish sometimes. Obviously a children’s health and happiness is of the utmost importance, but you have to take care of yourself too and sometimes, you have to take care of yourself first. If this means using that daycare at the gym so you can sit in the sauna and cry or, taking a day to get pampered while somebody else watches the kid(s) so be it. You can’t be the best you, if you don’t feel like you at all.
13. If you are lucky enough to have a partner helping you through this mighty endeavor called life, working together is paramount. Even if you don't have a kid. Compromise. Allow yourself to lose the argument. Be the person you want your partner to be.
14. Accept help. When someone offers, even if you don’t THINK you need it, take them up on it. Friends and family are more in touch than you think- the best ones will only offer help when and if they know you need it.
15. ASK for help. The minute you feel like “I can’t do this” is the minute you pick up the phone and ask for 10 minutes, an hour, or even a day to put your head back on straight. We know when we need to step away- when we’re starting to feel overwhelmed, behind, or just like a failure. ASK FOR HELP.
16. Be easy on yourself. Nobody is perfect and if you’re basing your success as a parent, or otherwise, by what you see on social media, or even sometimes, the local mom’s group you’re bound to feel less than. Know that you are EXACTLY where you need to be, doing EXACTLY what you need to be doing. And, you are enough.
17. In fact, you’re doing a great job. Keep telling yourself this.
18. Be open to change. Because change, when you have a kid, is the only constant.
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