Since Naiya is about to turn one year old later this week, I’ve been feeling overly nostalgic recently (I’m not crying storing her 6-12 month old clothing in the attic–you’re crying!). Hands down, this has been the most incredible, meaningful, pivotal and exhausting year of my life. I’ve never felt such extreme highs and lows in the same hour, let alone in the same week as I have this year. I’ve also never felt so happy, terrified and also so fulfilled all at the same time. Sharing a letter today for new moms and moms-to-be who are about to take the plunge into parenthood too. For those who are already knee-deep in it, hopefully this advice will be an extra pick-me-up for you. I can only imagine how much harder this whole parenting thing gets as our babies grow up. Thankfully we’re not there yet so we’ll bask in the glow of almost one! Excited to round up my top five tips for surviving the first year of motherhood and beyond below.
Dear New Mom:
You’re about to enter a year of your life that will fly by quicker than any other year.
It won’t feel like it day-to-day because you’ll be anxiously awaiting a night when you’ll actually be able to sleep again. You’ll be dreaming of a day when you won’t have to change a million poopy diapers. You’ll wonder if there will ever come a time when your body will go back to “normal” and a time when you won’t have to separate your life into three hour increments so that you can pump, nurse or feed your seemingly ever-crying baby.
But new mama: you’re about to embark on a year where you’ll be able to watch your tiny baby take his or her first breath, learn and grow (and poop) by the minute. If you’re anything like me, you’ll blink and he or she will be rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking and even talking–and you’ll wish you could just freeze time and experience it all over again.
And for all of the amazing changes you will witness this year and all of the immense happiness you’ll endure, you’ll have a lot of seemingly impossible days too. In fact, you’ll have some of the most exhausting, seemingly insurmountable days too. And for all of those days where you need some extra support, here are five pieces of advice to keep you sane:
1) Be Gentle With Yourself
When it comes to trying to juggle it all, remember that doing your best is good enough–it simply has to be!
There aren’t enough hours in the day to truly accomplish everything while balancing being an attentive mama so be gentle with yourself whenever you can.
Remember, there’s no such thing as perfect, no matter how hard you may try. As long as you’re giving every day your all, you are a success and you are enough.
2) Balance Is Key
Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, pay special attention to where you are exerting the most energy in your life.
Is it at work or is it at home? Is it on social media? Can you add more energy into any of the areas of your life that are lacking attention? Can you prioritize any differently?
It’s never too late to make a change and to restructure the balance in your life for the better.
3) It’s Okay To Take (A Lot of) Breaks
Give yourself permission to recharge everyday–no excuses! Remember that you will feel the best when you are kind to yourself and this will, in turn, make you a better wife, mother, friend and colleague.
Give yourself permission to step away, center yourself and zen out–you deserve it!
Find a babysitter you trust. Go out and get that massage you’ve been dreaming about, go for a walk or a run. Your baby will be happier because she or he will have a more relaxed mama.
Put your phone down, go out, see your friends and family–they will breathe new life into you and you will feel so much stronger.
4) Your “Village” Doesn’t Have To Be Close To Home
It takes a village to raise a child and it takes an equally strong village to support new mamas through her first year of parenthood. Today, our villages can span cities and countries and no mama is ever alone.
After you go through pregnancy and childbirth, you often become hyperaware of all of the women in your life who have gone through pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood before you. How did they all make it through?!
Never hesitate to reach out to them to ask questions. The worst thing a new mama can do is isolate herself. Sadly, this can much easier to do than you may think–especially when you’re sleep deprived!
Set up weekly calls and SKYPES with your friends. Have them over! Ask questions. The more connection and support you feel, the stronger your first year will be.
5) Lead With Kindness, Integrity And The Spirit Of A Lioness
If you end up going back to work after baby, you will feel like a completely changed person–at least I did!
When I went back to work after maternity leave, I remember walking into my first round of meetings wondering how I’d ever get through them. I couldn’t stop thinking of Naiya at home and I hated being away from her.
I was excited to be out of the house and couldn’t wait to carve out time from mom-ing hard to be a #girlboss again but I couldn’t believe how bizarre it was to have just gone through such a monumental change while everything at the office was the same (more here).
Becoming a mom taught me to lead with kindness–especially in the office–even more so than before. You never know what is going on in someone else’s personal life that may be affecting them at work.
After becoming a mom, I promised myself not to let anyone else’s issues ruin my day (#aintnobodygottimeforthat). I’ve stuck to this as best as possible and it’s made a big difference in my overall happiness level. I’m able to focus so much more on Naiya and my family rather than the extra noise in my life.
I also became a Lioness for Naiya. I left work exactly when I needed to in order to make sure I’d be home by bath time. I’ve been able to be her protector who will go to the ends of the earth for her but I’ve also been able to be the best employee I can be by getting all extra work done after her bedtime.
It’s all about having integrity in all you do and figuring out what works best for your new schedule.
Photography: Azusa Takano