Seasons in parenting: the newborn baby months

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About Tabitha

Tabitha is a mom to baby Henry, a wife to her wonderful husband, and a self-proclaimed city girl who lives in the Washington, DC area. Read more about her adventures at her site, From Single to Married.

Today is my last day of employment. Ever. Okay, maybe I’m being a tad dramatic, but it sure feels like a momentous occasion, because today is the day that I officially become a full-time stay-at-home mom.

If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would soon be at this point, I would have said you were crazy. Certifiable even. Yet here I am: age 38 and a new mother to an eight-month-old baby who is crawling, sitting up, and basically turning my life upside down.

And I figure that if you’re reading this site, you are either a parent or are hoping to be one. I know because that’s where I was last year. And now that I’ve come out on the other side, I thought I’d share five things that I’ve learned about making the transition from “me” to “we.”

1.Try not to panic

If you’re anything like me, before your little one arrived you did lots of research. Along with all that new-found knowledge comes the expectation that you will be the perfect parent. Colicky baby? No problem. Swaddling? Please… give me a challenge.

But, the reality is that a lot of that goes out the window once your new bundle of joy arrives. In its place is a sense of panic when you realize you are completely responsible for the well-being of another person.

All I can say is that the panic passes. With each day you will feel better about your new role and before long, you will be a pro. Until your child becomes a teenager of course, and then all bets are off.

2. Forget previous expectations

Remember that panic? That happens because of unrealistic expectations. Even if you’ve done this before, each child is different, so there are no guarantees. I’ve learned that unless you let go of the expectation to be perfect, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. There is no such thing as the perfect parent, only the parent who loves and the parent who tries. Both of which are completely acceptable (and doable) expectations.

3. Give yourself time

I mean this both literally and figuratively. I wandered through the first three months of my son’s life in a fog. I didn’t even realize it until one day –- poof –- it was gone and suddenly I was “me” again. Me but only better.

Just know that it may be a while until you feel like yourself again. Your complete life really does change when you add a new baby to the equation, so understand that it will take time to adjust.

And speaking of time… you must take time for yourself. In the first few weeks or months you may not feel like being separated from your baby, and that’s fine. But at some point you will need a little break.

I speak from experience. My husband watches our son every Saturday for three hours so that I can attend an art class. I cherish those three hours because they allow time for me. Make sure that you allow time for you.

4. Ask for help

Speaking of taking time, new (and older) babies take up pretty much all of your time. So much so that it’s hard to get anything else done. I’ve got three words for you: Ask. For. Help.

Just put away your pride and make up your mind right now that you will ask for help when you need it. After my little guy was born, my dear auntie (who knows my tendency to be stubborn) didn’t ask me if I needed help; instead, she told me she was coming to help. She came and sat with my son so that I could take a nap, which allowed me to remain sane during those first few sleepless weeks.

From that experience I learned that if I need help, it’s not my pride that will be hurt by asking, it is my son’s well being that will be hurt if I don’t.

5. Don’t be so hard On yourself

My final words of advice for new, expectant, or repeating parents: Take it easy. So what if you have a rough day or two and don’t get the housework done, or even get out of your pajamas? That’s what tomorrow is for. Everyone has been there, or will be there at some point. You’re not alone and people do understand, so try to go easy on yourself.

There you have it… Five things that I’ve learned over the past eight months as a new parent. There are more of course, but I’ll stop there. After all, I don’t want you to panic. Just know that being a parent is worth everything you can give, and so much more.

What words of advice do you have for new parents (first-time or otherwise)?

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Comments

  1. I would say Enjoy. Every. Second. It truly does go by so fast!
    Angela @ Homegrown Mom´s latest post: Pick My New Headshot What I Really Look Like

  2. I completely agree with the fog suddenly lifting. I still remember the exact moment when the fog lifted after our first baby – 8 weeks. It took at least 12 weeks with our second. That is my advice is that it takes that long to become yourself again.

    Also think of being a parent as a job. Noone walks into a new job and is fantastic at it straight away. You cannot be an expert at anything when you only do it a few times which the majority of us only do. Even those who may have a dozen children have only had an 8 month old, 12 times and each of those children will have been different and had their own quirks and needs.

    Be gentle on yourself.

  3. Thanks for this post. We are expecting our first, and I am already trying to let go of perfectionist tendencies! I will try to come back to this post and re-read it once Baby arrives!

  4. Thanks for the tips! I am just about 34 weeks and the panic is starting to set in even though I’ve been waiting for this for so long!! Motherhood certainly will be a new journey for me!

  5. I seem to be a little slower than others: I’m 14 months into my now not-so-new job as a stay at home mom, and there are still some pretty foggy days! This is the hardest job I’ve ever had, and the most important, which can add to the pressure I put on myself. To compound that, my husband and I moved cross country about 2 months before our little guy was born, so we were also trying to meet people and learn a new area at the same time. It’s taken awhile, but I’m learning to tap into all available resources and to relax about things that aren’t actually as important as I may have thought a year ago. My husband and I have really had to learn how to work together to make our new life work…and in the middle of it all is a pretty sweet boy who keeps our lives interesting!

  6. My baby is 3 months old, and I am still definitely in the fog. It might have lifted briefly at some point, but it’s definitely ON right now. I haven’t updated my blog since Alex was born! One day soon, I will. I have to keep telling myself that or I’m afraid I’ll never blog again.

  7. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! It only gets harder and harder, jajajaj! But it worths it! Motherhood or parenthood is one of the more magnificent things that could happen to anyone! Yes for some the first 2 or 3 or even 12 first months of sleepless nights (yes, some of us pass 12 months without sleeping 8 straight hours because of our little ones), are difficult but with every new thing that they learn, when you see them getting more independent, more self capable you can only say: boy, where’s my little tiny baby that until yesterday was still breastfeeding??
    So, enjoy, give yourself a break, let your husband take his place as the father, don’t worry if your baby is not going as “the books” say he should, don’t listen to every person that wants to give you an advice of what to do or not, and the most important listen to your mother instinct! You know your baby, if your feel like that’s nit coming, relax it will come! You’ll will know whats going on with him/her every time!
    Bizz from the proud mamma of two: Ana, 4 yrs and Inaya 13 months!

  8. this is so true. my boy will turn 1 year next week and this season all of these newborn days flood my memory…
    i especially love your tip about forgetting previous expectations. i wish every mum-to-be and newborn mum, as i like to call them, would read this! also, it is good make sure that even though there is so much knowledge around and it makes sense to get some expert’s advice from time to time, every parent IS an expert already for their very own child!!
    sylvia´s latest post: personalised diary

  9. I love the newborn phase … the nesting, craddling, nursing moments. I love discovering the wonderful new life and personality that entered our lives. It is a precious time to provide such a tiny baby with love and life.

    With the first baby everything was bathed in a mild terror, but that passed after 3 months. By the time I had my 2nd and 3rd babies, I had learnt to relax more and follow a simple routine. I could really enjoy my newborn babies. And this saying kept me sane during the worst moments, “This too shall come to pass,” and it does pass – hopelessly too quickly!
    Nadene´s latest post: Motivation Within Part 1

  10. Now the parent of a toddler, I look back at those first few months and realize how simple they were! But adjusting to motherhood wasn’t easy. I definitely did not take enough time for myself (and I still don’t). This is a great message for new and expecting moms…

  11. The only thing I would add would be to make connections with other moms. Being a new mom, especially if you had a career before and are now staying home, can be isolating. Make friends who have kids- any age kids, but preferably at least some with kids near the same age as yours. It’s great to be able to compare notes, successes, and trials with someone who is going through the same things.

    • Brandis – excellent point, I couldn’t agree more! I, too, have found that it is incredibly important to find other moms because it’s so easy to feel isolated. Plus, it’s just nice to, like you said, compare notes and talk about what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not.
      TAbitha (From Single to Married)´s latest post: Alone in a Crowd

  12. avatar
    Elizabeth says:

    I just had my second baby (he’s 2 months old) and was scared to death of the “newborn fog.” You see, with my first I was clearly in a fog, went back to teaching at 6 weeks, was trying to buy a house and move (because we had to), and feel like I barely made it to summer break! I am a stay-at-home mom now and I love it!

    But I was scared because my husband works in agriculture and my baby was set to be born during harvest. I didn’t know how I was going to handle a toddler and a newborn and we don’t live near any family. Thankfully, the fog didn’t really come with my baby, just moments, and I felt great. But I know how it feels so hang in there and just do what you can remembering that children should come first. I might make a crazy to-do list and not get but one or two things done but I played with my toddler and bonded with my baby so all is well with the world.

    Enjoy every stage they are in for what it is because you can never get it back!

  13. “Try not to Panic’- I panic a little each time- even with #4!

    My baby is over a year- new moms really try to enjoy it- it really does go way to fast!
    priest’s wife´s latest post: How to Have a Chinese-Light-Free Christmas 7 Quick Takes

  14. This post is so timely. TOMORROW is the due date for our first baby (if she’s timely :) ) and I was thinking today of setting some ‘mom goals’. Sounds like going easy on myself and being realistic ought to be in the top 5. Thank you!

  15. I have had new babies four times now and am all done, and I miss it so much. It’s a bit like riding down a very steep, snowy hill on a garbage can lid. The whole time it’s going on, you’re just hanging on and trying to make it through it, barely aware of what you’re speeding through. Then down at the end you find out if you’re one of those people who is just thankful to be through it or really wants to trudge all the way back up and do it again. :)
    Alicia Bayer´s latest post: Two Halloween candy brands recalled for containing peanuts and stainless steel

  16. Don’t wish the crazy time to go away. Because it will be gone too fast. I was 39 when I had my first and only twins. It feels like yesterday but in reality, it was 6 years ago. Love, love, love the time you have with your baby and do not let one thing that you do( like take time for yourself), bring you anything but more love.

    Be good to yourself and there will be no regret.

  17. this post so good and in “theme”.. my baby already a little more 1 year old and looking back I feel again this rush in everything and questions “what what to do”… here are so good advices!
    Elena´s latest post: Water- water- water! Baby want swim! Baby love swim!

  18. avatar
    helenataylor says:

    Hi,

    I love this subject I have been a stay at home mom for 9 years now and have 10 kids.. I have had the pleasure of working with some of my babies and then i stayed at home after my 4 child and that is the true love of mine.. I just had my 10th baby and am completley in love with the life of being a mother and being abe to watch everyone oif them grow and get older … One of the best things of being home is being able to see all those little things that all to often working mother miss and i would hate to hav to miss those moments…

  19. In retrospect, now that i’m definitely out of the fog (bt not of the panic!), I do remember stances that I don’t know how I rode. But, the thing is I did, and now I enjoy and cherish great memories.

    As usual, wonderful post; so thoughtful.. Congratulations on your first guest post!

  20. It is funny that you recognized it could be your last day of work ever! I never thought of it that way. I just figured it would be until she was in school and then I had another and it was until he was in school, maybe if I could find a flexible job. Now I am expecting #3 and I wonder if I will ever get back to work!
    I like the title because parenting is everchanging just like the seasons!
    Scarlet´s latest post: Baby Bunk Makes Co-Sleeping Easy- Safe- and Comfortable

  21. Oh the baby years! I hated when people told me to “cherish these moments” but I guess sometimes I do miss some of it….
    Alexis´s latest post: Im a digital hoarder- are you

  22. I WISH I head read this article when I began staying-at-home. It was so hard to get over the image of me managing the baby, the home, and getting gourmet meals on the table each night (3 hours at the farmers market seams reasonable, no?). It took many months of stress and then decompressing to realize what the new normal was going to be. Now that my #1 is almost 3, and my #2 is in baby phase, I feel so much more relaxed. Props to you for spreading the word on the realities of at-home-edness! xo.

  23. I would ad: Choose your tribe carefully. Surround yourself with people who will support your parenting choices. Breastfeeding? GREAT! Bottle-feeding? GREAT! Newborns are hard enough without being judged, yes?

    And also – about 30% of newborns are more challenging than most. Your baby may or may not be the cuddly happy cooing creature of your dreams. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. It does mean that you’ll need to get extra support to help you through the rough patches. It’ll get better!
    Alexis´s latest post: How to Get Baby to Sleep Better- Part I

  24. I’m a mother of 3 under the age of 7 and expecting my fourth in about 2 weeks, so I’ll be re-living the joys and challenges of parenting a newborn before I know it! Here are some tricks I’ve used with my 3 children and plan on using with our newborn son:

    When leaving the house with your newborn, give yourself more time to get ready than you think you will actually need. This is especially true if you are nursing– babies always tend to need you when they sense that you are leaving! And once you are ready to leave, it never fails that your baby needs a diaper change! Knowing that you have some extra time to get out of the door will help relax you. Also pack your diaper bag early and not right before you are trying to leave the house. It’s a good idea to take inventory of what’s in that bag every night in preparation for the next day.

    When I shower I bring the baby into the bathroom with me in the baby bouncer. I don’t know if it’s the sound of the running water, but babies tend to like this. If I have extra time, I may opt for a bath and bring the baby in the bath with me.

    Always have your sitter arrive 15 minutes earlier than you think you will need her. You will be glad to either a) leave the house on time or b) have a pair of extra hands to help with the baby while you finish getting ready. If you’re leaving your baby with your babysitter for more than just a couple of hours, try emailing your sitter the baby’s schedule and all pertinent information for your absence ahead of time. Then, also place what you emailed to her somewhere that is easy to find, like on the fridge. She will appreciate having some time to look it over beforehand and you can spend less time explaining it to her when she arrives. Save the document for future sitters!

    Never feel guilty about having someone help you out! This is hard to do for some new moms because we want and feel the need to get it all done on our own, but we don’t have to. If you have family members around and they want to help you out, use them!

    It’s okay to invest in time-saving tools. When my third child was born, I invested in a high-tech blow dyer that cuts the time to dry my hair in half, compared to my old one. It was a worthwhile investment!

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by pregg.net, John Malta. John Malta said: Seasons in Parenting: The Newborn Baby Months http://bit.ly/b1bETf [...]

  2. [...] – if you happen to be reading this, feel free to come visit me at my guest post today on Simple Mom.  So excited! [...]

  3. [...] I have several websites that I find fun to read as well as very informative.  One of those is Simple Mom.  I have found many of the articles may be aimed at one particular audience, yet I find them applicable to my life!  One article that I found very enlightening is…..now, before I tell you the name of this article, let me remind you that I am the mom of a 7 year old and a 9 year old.  I am a middle aged woman who is trying to gain control of my life.  Yet I find this article very appropriate for me and my family.  At the same time, I would recommend it for parents of new borns, parents of newly adopted children, or children who have taken on the care of elderly parents.  The article I am referencing is Seasons in Parenting: The Newborn Baby Months. [...]

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