There are endless lists on “what to expect from parenting” or “ten great tips on being the best mom ever” floating around all over the Internet. They’re full of good, important advice like “you’re going to make mistakes” or “it’s okay if your child eats pizza” or “your social life will totally change” (surprise?). All of these things are important to know and even hear a few times, there’s no right way to prepare yourself fully for what’s coming next. However, there are a lot of things that you don’t see as often, the things that new moms never really talk about that you should probably know before they blindside you.
So here’s a list of six things that new moms never really bring up in blog posts, parenting classes or in general conversation:
1. Nothing is going to be clean anymore. Before I became a mom, I was a bit of a clean freak, spending my Saturdays vacuuming and scrubbing the baseboards was a weekly routine. Obviously, Saturday cleaning days are a luxury that one can rarely afford with kids around. Even maintaining a clean-as-you-go regiment is difficult with a little one. Crumbs, spills, messes, coupled with the severed cut in free time means that sometimes that spill is going to have to hang out for a while, or those crumbs are going to be forgotten until you discover them later. Sparkling counters and fresh carpets are unfortunately a thing of the past.
2. Donate your old clothes. There are a few reasons why: first, I know, there are so many exercise videos on YouTube about getting your pre-pregnancy body back but the reality is that toned abs are probably going to fall behind on your to-do list. Secondly, those clothes are probably not child safe. Kids are stain-factories that will inevitably get a spill on those white shorts you used to wear fairly regularly. Grape juice will take up residence on your favorite skirt and never move out. And never underestimate the iron grip of a 3-year-old looking for attention — chiffon sleeves are simply not stable enough to withstand that force.
3. You’re going to feel completely different about everything, forever. Maybe it’s the survival instincts that come with motherhood but the flood of feelings is really going to change your life. It’s beyond the love and pride that you feel for your child, it’s a little inexplicable. Your favorite colors will change; your priorities will completely shuffle, even the way that you feel about friends and loved ones. Relationships with both family and friends will affect you completely differently for better or worse. The best thing to do is remind yourself that these changes in the way that you feel are completely natural, your entire life will radically alter, so it’s only natural that your priorities and preferences do as well.
4. It’s hard to stay creative. It’s really hard to come up with birthday ideas or vacations or tooth fairy stories or family traditions. It’s always ok to ask for help. For example, my oldest was extremely curious very early about Santa Claus and I wanted to keep the magic of the holidays alive for as long as possible. After a little research, I found PackageFromSanta.com, which sends letters, gifts and even phone calls from Santa Claus to provide irrefutable evidence to my little one that Santa Claus is absolutely real. There are tons of helpful guides and websites to give you creativity ideas to help you make memories for your little one that will stay with them forever.
5. You’re going to be humiliated, in public, more than once. Children are parrots, sponges and actually magnets for embarrassing or personal information and without the internal filter that comes with adulthood, they will let the world know which bad word they learned this week, or that Aunt Kim is getting a divorce, or that they saw something that they really shouldn’t have. It’s going to shock and mortify you, but remember: adults don’t retain information like little kids do. For something that embarrasses you, people will either easily forget or write it off as one of those “darned things that kids say”.
6. You’re going to need to stop worrying and take a moment sometimes. There are going to be days that are just full of tough reality. You might have a day where you get no sleep and spend the rest of the day with a wailing, unhappy baby. There are going to be afternoons of toddler questions and temper tantrums. There are going to be days where you just want to cry because your child just refuses to eat their dinner or put on their shoes. You’re going to be covered in sweat, tears and general kid fluids. It’s okay to just take a moment and walk away. Take a moment to cry, cool off, and take a deep breath. You’ll know when to come back. No one ever tells you that you have to take care of yourself, so make sure that you allow yourself — and allowing yourself is the hardest part — to take that time to compose yourself and breathe.
I’ve found that every mom can relate to these feelings and I wish someone had told me about them sooner. Take my advice, these things are all normal, so if you feel a bit of guilt, learn to let it go because you’re doing great!