High Fives to new parents! 10 things I learned on maternity leave

As I get ready to return to work from maternity leave tomorrow, I reflected on 10 things I’ve learned and advice I would give new parents.

1. It seems like there is a pro and con to everything when it comes to parenting. Do what you feel is right.

2. The extra love that can fill your heart when having a baby is incredible. I didn’t realize I had that much more love to give until after each kid. Savor every moment. I also understand post-partum depression is a real thing and that this overwhelming love may come later for some and that’s okay.

3. You’ll find people love to give you advice to the point that some tell you what to do. I was in line at the store the other day just after feeding my son and he started to fuss a bit. The cashier told me my baby is hungry. I politely replied saying I just fed him. She then went on to tell me he was too hot. I just smiled and politely told her he is tired. I love hearing how different parents handle situations but do what you think is best.

4. Being a new parent is a lot of work! Being a new parent with other children around is even more work. Be sure to get some time for yourself to recharge your batteries when you can. It’s easier said than done but so important. You are a better person to be around because of it. It may be getting away for a workout a few times a week, having date night with your spouse every month or getting a massage. Do what you need for you. Always remember what a blessing it is to be a parent and think about what you’re thankful for. I sometimes remind myself how challenging it is for some people to get pregnant and feel incredibly thankful I was able to have 2 healthy children.

5. Let’s not judge other parents. Everyone is trying to figure it out. Let’s support each other as much as possible and help others instead of being critical. I have so much respect for stay at home parents. When I see other parents with babies, I want to just give them a high five and a hug and say “you’re awesome!”

6. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself crying for no reason. Your hormones are all over the place as well as your emotions at times. I have a friend that owns a hair salon and she said she won’t touch a mother’s hair 6 months before and 6 months after baby. I’m sure there are some stories and experiences that led her to that. If you are the spouse of someone that just had a baby, please be understanding. A mother’s body is going through a lot they can’t control. It will pass. I can confidently say I have not felt like my best self during the first few months with a baby.

7. “These are the days.” After standing in a horribly security line, the kids were starting to meltdown. The guy behind said “ these are the days” which reminded me of an article I just read noting the same thing. I asked about his kids and he said they are too cool for him and want nothing to do with him right now. He longed for the early years when his kids were excited to see him and hug him. A dear friend of mine referred to the first few years of a child’s life as fog years. I completely get what she was talking about now. I am certainly in them now.

8. I am a workaholic — always have been and will probably always have it in my blood. Becoming a parent has forced me to have more balance in my life which I can appreciate. You just learn how to be incredibly efficient.

9. I’ve realized how important it is to spend time with people you love and make wonderful lasting memories. That is what life is about. Don’t get too concerned with making money that you forget what you are making money for! Live your life with no regrets.

10. Try not to compare yourselves to others. Everyone is facing challenges you know nothing about. There are days you will feel like a horrible mother/wife/sister/daughter/friend/coworker etc. Do the best you can with what you have. You are enough and you are awesome.

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