I get this question a lot and since we just celebrated Harper’s 1st birthday (1 year of parenthood down), I figured now would be the perfect time to answer this question. I’ve learned a million things in the last year, but the 3 biggest lessons I’ve learned since becoming a parent are (that may be helpful to new parents), keep work and baby separate, have a plan and do your research because it pays off, and go into parenthood as a team.
1. Keep work and baby separate.
One of the biggest realizations I had one when I went back to work, maybe 1 month in, was I needed to keep work and Harper separate. Mike and I run this business from home, so we knew we would have figure out a system for now taking care of a baby at home. This was huge early on for me when Harper was small. When I knew I needed to work, but I was hanging out with Harper, I would get extremely frustrated when either she wouldn’t nap or was fussy. You have that nagging feeling in the back of your head and you’re trying to rush things, so you can move on to work. I would get upset at Harper, myself, and Mike – it wasn’t good. I hated feeling those feelings when I was with my brand new baby. Once I realized this, I decided to block out time for Harper and work, separately. This only worked by communicating with Mike and setting a rough schedule. I would nurse Harper and then if I needed to work, Mike would take over – he would play, hang out with her, put her down for her nap, and/or help her back to sleep. That way I had uninterrupted time to dedicate to work. If Mike was at the gym, working, running errands, or needed his own time, I knew I was on duty and I wouldn’t think, I need to work. The expectations were set, which makes the biggest difference.
I got a lot better at this as time went on. I was able to work when I was working (I’ve gotten so efficient) and be present with Harper when I was with her. With our new schedule, I’m actually spending 2 work days at Starbucks on Monday and Tuesday to get all my work done. This has been so nice and has really helped me be even more efficient.
2. Have a plan, do your research
Don’t ever let someone tell you to go into parenthood blindly. I can’t tell you how times I’ve heard people say, “you don’t need a plan,” “don’t read, anything,” you’ll figure it out once baby comes.” While I 1000% believe in not having expectations – don’t have expectations about how your baby is going to look, act, be – I 1000% believe in doing your research, thinking about the type of parent you want to be, and planning ahead (sleep schedules, childcare, etc,). I’m a type A personality and all my crazy research and planning has paid off tremendously. I’m not saying you need to be as crazy as I am, but I do think doing your research pays off. It helps you navigate parenthood, gives you confidence in your own decisions, and really puts the power in your hands. In a lot of the books I read, conversations I had with friends and family, and even the conversations I saw on social media pre-baby, women would talk about questioning their decisions, feeling insecure about their parenting, or being influenced by their girlfriends or moms. Other than a few things about breastfeeding and my supply, I have felt super confident in nearly all my decisions when it has come to Harper. I rarely second guess myself and I really try to see our situation as our own and never compare. I’m not telling you this because I think I’m the best mom in the world or that you’re never going to feel insecure as a parent. The reason I feel this way is because I’ve done my research and I’ve come into parenthood as prepared as I could be. Everyone is going to make the best decisions for their own family and doing your research and being prepared, helps you feel good about the decisions you make.
Being a new mom is already scary enough. You are now in charge of another person and all your decisions play a major role in their life. So, why not think things through? Put in a little effort. For me, having a plan, knowing how I want to parent, and doing my research has been empowering and I’ve never gone into a situation (hanging out with other kids and their moms, going to doctors appointment, hearing my MIL’s two cents) and felt insecure or like I’m making mistakes or the wrong decision. I encourage all mom’s to do this. Again, you don’t have to be as crazy as I am, but being prepared will change your life as a mom, wife, and a person.
3. Be on the same page with your partner
Mike and I talked about being parents way before we had Harper. It was a process we started maybe 3 years ago. We knew starting a family was something we wanted to do INTENTIONALLY. We weren’t going to have kids because we were getting older, because everyone else was doing it, because that’s just want you do once you’re married, or because our parents wanted grandkids. We were going to start a family once we felt ready and by ready I mean once we talked about everything and anything. We discussed how our childhood issues have affected us as adults, what we saw our parents do right and wrong, our own downfalls that we don’t want to put on our children, sleep schedules, breast feeding, grandparent involvement, work life balance, parent roles, childcare, vaccines, eating plant based, communication, discipline, and respect. We discussed everything, so that we could parent together rather than individually. We wanted to be on the same page, so that our relationship can thrive as we entered into this brand new world of parenting. And do you want to know how that has panned out? Amazingly. Have we had our moments and have things been stressful, yes absolutely. But, at the core, we want the same things and we’re on the same page and it makes the biggest difference in the world. We parent together, which means we do things to help the other person out. Our relationship has only grown and we’re closer than ever. Again, parenthood isn’t easy, but when you go at it as a team, everyone shines brighter.