If you’re a new mom looking for advice, I get it. I’ve been there. I used to spend hours reading books and blogs, scouring Pinterest, and trying to learn everything I could about motherhood.
And while I learned a lot of helpful tidbits and hacks during this research phase, I never really heard that advice that I wish I had.
Here is some of the motherhood advice I wish I had read years ago
1. Adjust Your Expectations
First, whatever your expectations are going into motherhood, loosen the reins.
I’m not being negative here. In some aspects, becoming a mom will be an unbelievably incredible experience beyond what you can imagine. It’s miraculous and beautiful.
In other ways, motherhood will stretch you to new lengths. And it may be nothing like you expect.
You may not be the mom you always imagined you would be (I’m definitely not). Your house probably won’t look the way you expect it to look. Your kids may not be who you expect them to be or act how you expect them to act. Your daily routine may look different than you plan.
Motherhood, like life, rarely goes how you expect. So, the looser you are with your expectations, the better.
2. Remember That Sometimes You’ll Feel Like Supermom; Sometimes You’ll Feel Like a Failure (But You’re Not)
I have no idea why, but every mom ever I’ve talked to feels like a failure at times. But, usually not all the time.
Motherhood is a crazy rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes, you’ll feel like you’re killing it. And other times, you’ll feel like you’re failing miserably.
Let me tell you a quick personal story.
One evening, I was putting my toddler to bed, and my older kids were in another room yelling and carrying on. I rushed in to shush them, but somehow the words “Shut up!” escaped my lips.
In my house, “shut up” isn’t a phrase we use, so my kids were somewhat horrified. Although I apologized immediately for the way it came out, the damage was done. The next day, while driving in the car, my oldest daughter was telling me that it really hurt her feelings.
When we arrived home, as the kids got out of the car and followed my husband inside, I decided to pull my daughter aside and talk to her about it.
I told her how sorry I was, how I didn’t mean to say it like that, and how we all make mistakes. We talked about her feelings, and we talked about forgiveness and grace. I can’t remember exactly how it all went, but it was one of those amazing moments of motherhood.
Difficult moments can be some of the best opportunities to bond with your kids. At the end of our conversation, my daughter hugged me and we both felt so much better. I had a pep in my step as we walked inside along with that whole “I’m killing this mom thing” feeling.
And then, the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find my poor middle child on my front porch crying. She had been left outside! I mistakenly assumed she had come inside with my husband. Total parenting failure. I felt terrible. (And I still do when I think about it.) I went from momentarily feeling great about myself as a mom to feeling like a complete screw-up.
But, I’m here to tell you, it’s normal. You’ll have shining moments, and you’ll make some horrifying mistakes. This leads me to my next point.
3. Give Yourself Grace
If you don’t give yourself grace as a mom, you’re going to be miserable. Please, learn to ask for forgiveness and to forgive yourself when you don’t do everything perfectly.
You probably won’t cook healthy meals every single day. You probably won’t have the energy to clean your house every day. And you definitely won’t say the perfect thing every time you open your mouth.
There will be mistakes — some that make you want to curl up in bed and hide for a while.
But, remember: Grace. Grace. Grace.
And, now, for another bit of motherhood advice that I wish someone had told me sooner.
4. Mom Guilt is Real. Learn When to Ditch It (and When to Listen To It)
As I’ve mentioned, you will almost definitely experience mom guilt during your parenting journey.
I’ve already talked about giving yourself grace. Sometimes, I believe you should absolutely give yourself grace and toss the mom guilt out.
However, I also believe that there are times are all need to listen to our “mommy guilt.” Sometimes, the things we are feeling guilty about are aspects of our parenting that we could do better. Only you can know the difference.
For example, if you are constantly feeling guilty for being on your phone all the time and not listening to your kids, that’s probably a sign that you need to make some changes.
In this case (and in many others), mom guilt serves a purpose.
You just have to learn when to listen to it, and when to block it out.
5. Don’t Neglect Yourself
It’s super common for women at all stages of motherhood to neglect themselves in the service of their children. In fact, 78 percent of women say they’ve neglected their own health to take care of others.
I believe it. And I’ve done it.
A few years ago, though, I decided to prioritize my own health and self-care. I started eating healthier, exercising regularly, and taking time in the morning to read my Bible and spend time in prayer. As a result, I am a happier, healthier, and a more present mom.
Think of it this way: How you parent your kids is tied to how you feel. If you are neglecting yourself (whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually), you may not show up as the mom you truly want to be.
Although self-care can get a bad rap, it doesn’t have to be selfish and it’s not only about feeling good. It’s loving your kids enough to take good care of their mother. So, I encourage you: If you can’t do it for you, then do it for them.
You’ve got this
In conclusion, motherhood is a breath-taking, awe-inspiring adventure that will stretch you, keep you on your toes, and keep you grounded all at the same time.
And you’ll get lots of advice, from the Internet and elsewhere, but no one can really tell you how to raise your kids or how to take care of yourself as a mom. We can only tell you what’s helped us and what we wish we knew then. Best of luck to you, Mama, You got this!
A version of this post originally ran on The Well and Balanced Mom.