When having your first child at a youthful age, especially in your early twenties, you will be clueless, and as happy as a lark. Ignorance is truly bliss. All you can think about are baby names, dressing up your live baby Barbie, and playing house. There’s nothing wrong with this, except it’s a commercial on T.V. You might have prepared yourself a little and read a couple of books for new moms, and thought you were going to be a natural. Then along came this bouncing baby, and life couldn't get any better, right? HAH!
If you have to work like the rest of most American moms, those two books aren’t going to prepare you for the realities of the situation. After the first 6 months, you’re on your own. Thankfully, you have the internet - and this article - to help make some necessary adjustments in your life that you may not have thought about before the baby came along. These 10 tips may help you through some difficult days.
1. Develop a Plan
Keep either a digital or paper planner, for both your personal and work appointments. The worst thing you want to do is double book. Color-coding your activities, using one color for work, and another color for home and personal activities. If possible, schedule a few hours a day for hiccups, such as those times you have a sick child or a work emergency. Always have a backup plan too. The day will inevitably come when a babysitter will cancel, your partner will need something, or some other situation will arise.
2. Be Guilt Free
Instead of thinking about how you’re not spending time at home, consider your role with your company, how it is helping your family, how maybe your child will be able to go to college because of your extra support, and what a terrific role model you are. If you need to, look into mother support groups to get you over the rough patches and after the first few months, everything will be okay.
3. Decide on Your Childcare
Mark this chore off your list even before the baby arrives. Ask other mothers, search references for babysitters, au pairs, nannies, and day-care centers. Whatever your choice of childcare, you want to be prepared when the ‘real’ due date comes: the day to return to work.
Create a list of things that are crucial to you in finding someone to care for your little one. If you choose a nanny, set playdates before you go back to work. Go to the daycare centre and watch them at work to help ease yourself past the predetermined panic attacks that are bound to happen when you leave your child for the first time.
4. Easy Mornings
Even when you’re tired, make your mornings easier by getting as much done the prior evening as possible. Packing the kids’ lunches, laying out your children's clothes (plus decide what you want to wear), packing the diaper bag, purses, backpacks, placing them all in a convenient location, finding your keys, planning breakfast (even if it's a quick one), everyone taking a shower. These steps will have your morning running smoother, and help you feel less frazzled. Before you walk out the door check your day planner, and review the schedule for extra events. Discuss the plans with your partner, and you are prepared for the day!
5. Organize a Family Calendar
Besides having your own electronic or paper planner, your family should have a wall planner that you add things to every Sunday. This will let you prepare and discuss plans for the coming week with the whole family. Doing this helps with communication, plus alleviates any bombshells that might arise. The calendar should be shared with everyone involved, and kept in an open and distinct place where everyone can see it.
6. Communicate with your Employer
By law, most companies offer maternity leave. Speak to your boss about how long your company allows for maternity leave, and ensure it is a paid. If you would like to have additional time off, consider using some vacation/sick time. Communicate with your supervisor what your hopes and intentions are, and see if you can work with the conditions.
When you return, see if there is a way to work flex-time. Discuss whether working different hours than the normal 9-5 hours, would work better for you and your partner’s schedule.
7. Staying In-Touch throughout the Day
Find ways to stay connected to your children when you’re not together. Send them videos, pack them little notes, give them something special to keep them going. Even just good luck pennies - something small is momentous to your child. If you have to miss a special moment, make sure to videotape it so you can watch it together later on. Keep pictures of yourself in their bedrooms so they’re used to seeing you around them. Call them on your breaks; hearing your child’s voice can get you through a difficult day, and your children will be comforted knowing you're thinking of them.
8. Create Special Family Activities
Spending time as a whole family is fundamental to fostering family communication, bonding, and dynamics. Family game nights, movie nights, or coloring times are great ways to do something when time is an issue. On the occasions you do get a chance to take a family outing, don't talk about the ins and outs of work, talk about the kids’ interests.
9. Your Partner Needs You Too
In this trio, believe it or not, the order of importance should go like this: You, partner, then baby. You were in love with your partner first, and they might feel a bit neglected. Think about your partner and remember to show some love to the person who’s been by your side since the beginning of this journey. Have a date night once a month, or even a quiet dinner at home. Remind them why they are so wonderful and ignite that spark, so you can ‘check-in’ and ‘check each other out’ all over again.
10. Create Moments for Yourself
If you manage your time intelligently, you should always make time for Numero Uno. Nothing feels better than a hot bath, a well-deserved massage, or a pedicure. Try to make time for a yoga class, or a spa day, or focus on that hobby you’ve been ignoring. Working moms are the hardest working people on the planet, and they need time for themselves too. It is essential to eat and drink healthily, and take care of yourself. Remember in that trio, you are number one. Without you, the other two can’t manage.
Final Advice: you're going to mess up. Grasp that concept right now. You are not going to be perfect, because nobody ever is. "The best laid intentions of mice, men (and MOTHERS) often go awry." - Robert Burns. You can be the best planner, worker, and mother, yet somehow, someway, something is going to throw the whole darn thing off course. What do you do? Shake it off, smile, and realize that it's going to happen again, but maybe, just maybe not tomorrow. Make the most of these 10 valuable tips and you will survive!
What were the challenges that you faced when you became mother for the first time in your life? Let us know in the comments below.