When you’re a new mom, everyone wants to give you advice. Other moms, other dads, non-parents, your own parents, complete strangers’ parents… the list goes on. I got a lot of both solicited and unsolicited input in those early days. But the best advice for new moms I received was far simpler than you might expect.
Before I get to the good stuff, let me say that I was also given all kinds of completely useless advice. Recommendations for baby gear that would “change my life” and must-have sleep aids (that did absolutely nothing for my baby). “Sleep while you can!” said dads everywhere (who never got up in the night with their babies). To which I replied, “That would be nice, but have you ever tried to sleep with a bowling ball in your belly?” Older women everywhere consistently tell me to “treasure these moments” while they are young.
Raising babies, having babies, and surviving babyhood is not a one-size-fits-all experience. After making it through 2 first-years-of-life with my own sons (who by the way, had 2 incredibly different first-years), I realize that fact now more than ever.
Am I bitter about all the unhelpful information give to me? I guess I am. Some advice was bleak and discouraging. Most of the well-intentioned guidance was misleading. Some of it was downright incorrect. The advice I was getting did not seem to be the best advice for new moms.
One thing that seems to be consistent, though, is that it’s freakin’ hard.
New moms need support, encouragement, and understanding. (Almost as much as they need babysitters, maids, and in-home chefs.) They don’t need warnings, great big sighs of exhaustion, and complaints from other parents (masquerading as helpful information).
The best advice for new moms that I had ever received came to me when my first son was around 3 months old. I was still adjusting to that new way of being. And I was still reeling about being uprooted from my own identity. It came from an unexpected source, and it wasn’t so much advice as it was words of comfort and reassurance. In fact, the advice was actually hidden in between the three simple words said.
One of my best friends’ husbands said to me simply: “It gets easier.”
No inside tips, no complaining alongside me, no complicated parenting strategy. Just that it gets easier. I immediately felt my body get a little bit lighter. My jaw loosened, muscles relaxed, and my brow unfurled.
The words of advice I heard were: “Keep going. You’re doing great. Take it one day at a time. And remember that the challenges of these baby years are temporary.”
The knowledge that the hardships would soften — even if it was a ways down the line — was welcome. It gave me hope and confidence that I would feel like a human again at some point. I was drowning, and knowing there was a raft up ahead saved me.
It didn’t have to be the next day or the next week or the next month even. But I knew the struggle wouldn’t last forever.
Am I still baffled that these 3 words came from a man? Yes, I am.
But sure enough, those struggles as a brand new mom did fade away. The new struggles I felt with my 2nd son faded away, too.
Yes, I have different challenges, but I also have a different confidence. I understand my identity a little more. Our little family has started to develop its own identity, too, which makes everyone feel more comfortable.
I still appreciate those 3 words.
It gets easier.
The first year of my 2nd son’s life was the hardest year I’ve had to date, and the constant mantra to myself was: “This is all temporary.”
Once, when our boys were about 12 months and 3-years, we were on a family outing at the park. My husband and I struggled to get one son in the stroller and the other in a front-carrier so that we could do a loop on the walking trail. They both protested and whined. How dare we try to bribe them with snacks so we could enjoy a morning walk! We fumbled and dropped things and apparently looked very flustered doing so.
A few feet away sat a well-rested, put-together, good-looking husband and wife sitting back on a park bench, relaxing as their own children played on the playground. They smiled and waved and said, “Don’t worry you guys; it gets easier!”
They had a 7- and 9-year-old and told us they remembered how hard the early years were. They said it was so great now, and they realized they had to have the tough years to be able to really appreciate it. “You guys are in the thick of it,” they said. “But it doesn’t last forever.”
I wanted to cry tears of joy and hug them fiercely. My kids are still young and I’m still here in the thick of it. The super-duper thick of it. But each day there is something amazing they do that gets me.
The best advice for new moms are words that reach out and hug. Words that acknowledge how hard it is and how amazing you are for doing it. Words that give you permission to feel all the feelings.
So, if you’re a new mama and you’re feeling the overwhelm, I want you to know mama, it gets easier. You got this.
What’s the best advice you’ve received as a new mom? Share in the comments below. And for more inspiration, more support, and more ways to keep your sanity, check out The Ultimate Guide to Motherhood.