I often joke that if I knew then what I know now, I would have been such a better mom when my children were little. I don’t think it’s often what we know that makes us better mothers, I think it ties in with our confidence as a mom. The more confident I was in my abilities with my children, the better it was and the more self-assured mom I became: feedings, outings, bedtimes, etc. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have or embrace feelings of being unsure – having those feelings means that we are taking our job as mom very responsibly. Your baby already knows you’re a pro – read on to help you believe it, too!
1. ACT LIKE A BABY PRO
We’ve all heard the old saying “fake it til you make it” and there is some truth in it. To be more confident – start acting like it. The self-assuredness that comes with repeating an action (i.e. diaper changing, cleaning umbilical cord, etc.) will help your baby feel safer, calmer and happier.
2. DON’T ENTERTAIN BAD ADVICE
Although well meaning friends and family will surely inundate you with advice, be selective of which advice you choose to follow. Those early weeks of nighttime feedings can have you so dazed and weary that often new moms will give in to the certainty of experience although the advice may be outdated or not recommended by experts.
3. YOU ARE NOT A “BAD MOMMY”
All moms (yes, ALL) feel inadequate at times. When one of my daughters was a small baby, I had laid her on the couch and turned away to get something for just a moment. I never dreamed she would even move in that split second but she rolled off of the couch and onto the floor. I felt horrible and could not stop beating myself up – it was all my fault and I should have known better (btw, my daughter was fine – she didn’t even cry – I cried enough for both of us).
When “bad mommy” guilt starts trying to whisper in your ear, take a breath and reevaluate by putting the situation in perspective: Did you abandon your child? Leave them in a hot parked car? No, you did not. Second, all babies, children and kids will get hurt sometimes. Finally, implement a change to prevent the problem and ultimately, the guilt, from happing again. Finally, move on from the situation and stop feeling guilty.
4. LOSE THE AUDIENCE
When your baby seems unconsolable, instead of attempting method after method to soothe, find a private place. Not only will this remove your baby from a stimulating environment but it may possibly protect you from unsolicited advice. It’s easier to relax and calm a baby without others intently watching every move.
5. MAKE A DECISION AND BE CONFIDENT IN IT
Tune into your mommy gut feelings to help you make decisions quickly and confidently. Start small (unscented body wash or calming body wash?) and work up from there. Choose and then move on without second guessing yourself.
6. TAKE NOTES
Research has proven that people under acute stress (like having a new baby and very little sleep!) have a very difficult time retaining short-term information. Take notes. Before going to the pediatrician, jot down notes to take to every appointment and then the doctor’s instructions while you’re there.
7. DON’T HOLD IT IN
It’s understandable to be upset and lose your calm when your baby has been crying for three hours straight or your four year old is throwing a tantrum. Sometimes, it’s good for your baby to see you upset, as long as it is justified and not a regular occurrence. Our children are watching us and as they grow, they are looking to us to learn how to handle emotions. When they see us sad, scared, frustrated, say what you are thinking: “I was feeling really sad, but I feel better now” or “That was really scary but I’m glad we are safe.”
How we react to events and situations will be the “mommy tape” that will be played over and over in our children’s heads when they are feeling emotional. They learn how to self-soothe from us and how we react.
8. COMPETITIVE MOM FRIENDS
We’ve all seen the IG mom’s that are so stylish with their hair and makeup done, smiling and carrying a venti Starbucks cup while maneuvering a baby stroller, a Louis Vuitton diaper bag and a toddler on their hip. Both of their babies are spotless and giggling. DO NOT COMPARE yourself, your life and your children to something on social media. Chances are it is staged and stylized – or just a very rare freak of nature. The bottom line is that motherhood is hard, it’s messy and it’s also very personal… you’re journey is not someone else’s and you are not less if it doesn’t look the same.
9. TAKE TIME FOR YOU.
Taking a day, an hour or even 15 minutes is required for good parenting. Small breaks are essential to maintain balance, replenish and rejuvenate yourself so you can be the best for your child. Something as small as a bubble bath with soothing music or exercise can do the trick. One of my favorite quotes is: “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” You cannot give what you do not have – self care is vital. Also, let your child see you taking care of yourself, not only will you be a good role model but they will see that taking care of yourself is a priority.
10. CHERISH THE TIME TOGETHER
Spend undistracted time with your baby. No phones. No television. No devices. Allow yourself to be in the moment with your child. Watch in awe as your little one conquers a new milestone and let it remind you: YOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB.
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