Tips for First Time Moms

Being a new mom is hard. I give you tips on how to get through the sleepless nights and new parenting fears.

THE TRUTH ABOUT BEING A NEW MOM

Motherhood. It’s hard. The idea of being the perfect mother is just that: an idea. Not a reality. But that’s okay. Too often we run around like chickens with our heads cut off while trying to give the impression that we actually have all of our ducks in a row.

When my husband and I started trying for a baby, I was pregnant within six weeks. They say you should wait until 8-10 weeks to tell people, but I called the day I found out. I was ecstatic. A week later I started bleeding. After seeing the doctor and staying in bed a few days, it was confirmed I had miscarried. For the first time, fear crept in.

Fortunately, we were blessed with another pregnancy 6 weeks after that. Throughout my entire pregnancy was a constant nagging fear that something would happen to my baby.  I worked until the end of the school year and sat with my feet elevated during the hottest summer North Texas had ever seen.  Two weeks before I had my baby, my mother-in-law died from brain cancer.  She had been battling it for a year and a half and her time had come.  I began having nightmares about her death and would wake up crying in the middle of the night.

SINGING THE BABY BLUES

I wish I had been told about baby blues before I had my son.  I think I may have handled my depression better being told in advance that I wasn’t crazy.  They say pretty much every woman experiences “baby blues” after having a baby.  It’s normal to have it for about 2-3 weeks.  Postpartum depression is a more intense depression that lasts longer..  Mine was more than baby blues, but whether it was postpartum depression or post-traumatic stress, I don’t know.

People would come over to give us food and I’d excuse myself.  Everyday for two weeks I cried hysterically for hours.  I couldn’t stop.  I had a constant fear my baby was going to die and it would be all my fault for not doing the right thing.  It was paralyzing to the point that I didn’t want to take care of him even though I did anyway.  I felt trapped in my new life with my mom halfway across the country and my mother-in-law not being able to come over and help.

FINDING A NEW MOM COMMUNITY

So what did I do?  I asked for help.  It wasn’t until another mom friend suggested I talk to my doctor that I got better.  After I got on a prescription, I asked other moms about their experiences.  To my surprise, several women I talked to experienced the same emotions I had and if they didn’t get help, they were depressed for over a year.  It took me about two months to feel like I wasn’t swimming with my head just above the water, but once I started feeling better, it was like I was a brand new person.  It felt great to be able to look in the mirror and say, “Ok, I’ve got this.”

MY ADVICE FOR NEW MAMAS

1. TAKE BABY STEPS

You’re a new mom. This is new. That’s ok. When you’re overwhelmed in the moment, take baby steps.  Don’t worry about the next 18 years, your next baby, or even the dreaded “middle of the night feeding”.  Take each step one at a time.  Ask yourself: All I have to do now is ___________. (feed her or get her to stop crying or give her a bath)  Can I do that ONE thing right now?   Focus on the task at hand, not at all the things you have to do in the next 24 hours.

2. PUT AWAY THE PARENTING BOOKS

The more stressed I got, the more I thought I needed to read up on how to do things right.  The more I read, the worse of a mother I felt.  You’re doing great.  Don’t worry about schedules and waketime.  You’re in survival mode.  Is your baby breathing?  Are they eating?  You’ve got this.

3. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE

Most libraries have free weekly programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.  During the summer, take advantage of morning movie deals for moms and kids.  Join a women’s Bible study at church.  Meet other seasoned and new moms in play date groups on meetup.com.  Run errands when your baby’s little–take advantage of this time in their lives when they sleep through everything during the day.  Many moms are terrified of taking their little ones out too soon.  Your baby sleeps most of his first month anyway and getting out was the best thing I did for myself to get worry off my mind.

4. TAKE “ME” BREAKS

It’s hard for a new mom to think clearly when you’ve had no sleep and you don’t have time to shower.  Trade off one night a week with your spouse to clear your head.  My husband would take the baby one night a week and tell me to go out.  I often left not knowing where I was going and ended up reading at a bookstore for an hour or two.  When I came home, I was excited to see my family and didn’t mind changing another diaper.  Make sure to plan time for your husband to recharge.  Saturday mornings, a weeknight evening–whenever–just give each other a chance to breathe. Just make sure you actually get OUT of the house for your break time–it’s not relaxing being in the tub hearing your baby crying in the room next door. 

5. FIND A BABYSITTER

Even if you only go out for coffee, go on a date with your husband.  Find out how work is going, what new movies are out, who is making news in Hollywood–anything!  Don’t forget to plan your next date night while you’re out.

When we couldn’t find a sitter, we swapped babysitting with friends and asked for references at church. We also have had great success using Care.com.

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Remember that this stage of your life won’t last forever. Being a new mom is just one stage of your life, and yes it’s a hard one, but you can get through it. Sometimes it’s overwhelming when a baby won’t eat or he projectile vomits for the 3rd time today. But savor the moments where he’s holding his head up on the blanket or he coos at you or he sucks his thumb while you’re rocking him.

Let me encourage you through this time of transition in my Fear + Anxiety Workbook. It’s Bible-based and walks you through verse studies on fear, peace, trials and mindset. It also includes verse coloring pages! You can order it in my shop:

For more posts like this, check out:

Take encouragement mamas, you’ve got this!

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5 Tips to Slow Down and Be Present With Your Kids

One of the best things I do for myself when life starts to get hectic, is to slow down and go back to the basics. To sit and just be a mom. Here I’ll help you figure out how.

ALL KINDS OF MOMS

I used to be THAT mom.

The mom with a curriculum for her toddler.

I finished four years of teaching before I had my son, so he became my classroom. The days were filled with endless possibilities. I had energy, motivation, excitement!

Over the years, we explored our city and made homemade alphabet books. We fed ducks at the park, strolled through art museums and baked muffins together.

Then I had a daughter and got sick. I lost track of the days and playtime went out the window.

But even when I started to improve, I was in a constant state of hurrying, like I was trying to play catch up for the years that I lost. When my daughter stopped to literally smell the roses, I asked her to pick up the pace.

SLOWING DOWN

One of the best things I do for myself when life starts to get hectic, is to slow down and go back to the basics. To sit and just be a mom.

I’ve learned to simply play with my kids without multitasking, without a time limit, without a plan.

To run out in the rain with my son. To find roly-polies with my daughter.

The joy of playing hide and seek or painting pictures together.

To be THAT mom.

“Children teach us so much about anticipation. You can see it in how their eyes sparkle when they’re told that something interesting, anything really, is on the horizon. They wait expectantly and let their mind travel to the most extraordinary places—and they don’t try to drag it back to safety if its wandered too far. But for some reason it seems like when we all cross over into adulthood, we suddenly are no longer able to dream without boundaries. Instead we are expected to see the world in black and white, or as wise and foolish. Heartbreak and letdowns are all around us. They’re an inescapable part of life. So every chance I get, I want to teach my kids to dream and hope and expect good things. I also try to show them how to find ways to be those good things in other people’s lives.” – Chip Gaines

5 TIPS FOR PLAYING WELL

1. SCHEDULE TIME TO PLAY EACH DAY AND PUT AWAY ELECTRONICS

When you decide to slow down and play, give them your undivided attention. Even being fully present for ten minutes of Go-Fish can make a huge difference in your child’s behavior. It also helps you to enjoy the moment instead of being mentally stuck somewhere else.

2. GET OUTSIDE

Not only is it good for the kids, it’s good for your body and mind too. Nature is the perfect place to enjoy the simple things. Last summer, I caught a giant lizard. We bought him a cage and watched him shed his skin every month and fed him crickets. The kids loved to talk to him and it was a chance for us to learn about Texas Spiny Lizards online. When he grew too big for his cage, they let him go back outside to play with his friends.

A three-legged squirrel with no tail hung out in our front yard a few years ago. We saw him during walks and named him Ninja Squirrel.

One neighbor has a ceramic goose by their front door that they dress up in different holiday outfits throughout the year. Every time we walk by, my daughter waves at “Mama Goose”.

In the spring, we fill up bird feeders. When summertime arrives, out come the sprinklers. We go on bike rides in the fall and jump in the leaves in the winter (It’s Texas y’all).

Find what makes your neighborhood unique and start your own “slow down” traditions.

3. LET YOUR KIDS CHOOSE THE ACTIVITY

I don’t want to play dolls or trucks for an hour. But learning to let go of control can be rewarding, even if the game they made up is ridiculously boring. The ideas your children come up with will give you insight into their social lives and their passions.

4. BE SILLY

Learn to tell jokes with your kids and let loose so that they can see you as the fun person you are, not just the disciplinarian. This week I spent time practicing karate moves with my son and tap dancing with my daughter. I was pretty terrible at it, but they didn’t seem to notice.

5. BE CREATIVE

I love teaching my kids how to do things from my childhood like making paper airplanes, telling jokes and doing magic tricks. I taught my daughter how to hold water in a straw with her finger the other day and she thought I was a genius. My son was amazed to learn how to shoot paper off a straw. I haven’t got to spit balls yet. It doesn’t take much.


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For more posts on intentional parenting, read:

I think you’ll find that when you slow down, life becomes much simpler. You’ve got this!

WANT TO LIVE YOUR DAYS WITH MORE INTENTION? SIGN UP HERE TO GET INSTANT ACCESS TO MY FREE PRINTABLES: