Things I've Learned in the First Year of Motherhood

Leading up to my daughter's first birthday last month, I began doing some reflecting on some of the things I've learned in my first year as a mom. This past year has been unlike any other in my life and has absolutely been a roller coaster. One thing is for sure...I'll never stop learning as I go.

Some things have jumped out at me as I've looked back on the past year or so.

Instagram Stories are a blessing with a newborn. Especially during middle of the night feeding sessions. I remember so many nights, sitting in the rocking chair in the nursery, hitting the first Instagram Story and just letting them play through while I held my baby (and sometimes dozed off.)

It's important to make time for yourself, whether it's to treat yourself or do something you loved from before baby. This is something I still struggle with even now. I used to go to yoga twice a week. While I was pregnant I went probably once a week. Since Ariana was born, I've probably gone 10 times. In 13 months. But when I do go, I feel so much better and more relaxed. Do the things you enjoy. That are you. Go get your nails done. Get a massage. Sit at a coffee shop by yourself. Whatever makes you feel good...commit to doing it. The anticipation of being away from your baby for that time is a lot worse than actually being away for that time.

Give yourself more grace. This is something else I've been working on. I've always been hard on myself, and that pressure has felt stronger since having a baby. You build up these scenarios of what you'll be like as a mother, then you struggle to meet them. It's hard, but I'm learning to let it go. I don't write and blog like I used to. I didn't cloth diaper. These aren't the things I should let weigh me down. My normal is totally different these days, and giving myself grace allows me to go with the flow better (and not cling to what I think I should be doing.)

Your friendships and relationships do change. It's of course understandable that your friendship dynamics shift once you have a baby. It's sometimes hard to realize you're growing apart from some friends, or that you've lost some. Some days you don't think about it, and some days you feel down about it and mourn the losses. And then you sing the lyrics to MMMBop in your head and realize Hanson was singing about this all along. And when it comes to your is so easy to slip into the full-time parent role, but it's so important and refreshing to go back to date nights or time alone.

The first time doing something with baby will kind of suck, but the second time is much better. Maybe part of it is because of my anxiety, but anytime we did something for the first time with Ariana, it was filled with more stress than enjoyment. Once that first time is out of the way, it was easier to be relaxed. Our first day at Festival International? Not that fun! The second day? A million times better. Our first vacation this summer? Extremely stressful, although as I look back on it now, I remember more of the good moments than the stressful ones.

Returning to work is both harder and easier than you will expect. I mean, it's probably not the healthiest to think of your time at work as your "me time", but that is what it felt like after almost three months of maternity leave. With the exception of the damn pump, work days felt like a break from parent mode. And then you find yourself at 10 a.m. scrolling through pictures of your child and missing her intensely. Plus, there have been so many days where I felt like I wasn't doing Work Me or Mom Me any justice. So many things to do all the time, and not enough energy or brainpower for it all. Another area where I just have to give myself grace.

Everything is a phase. For better or for worse. The hard times will pass. The teething phases come and go (for the most part at least.) And on the flip side, once you finally feel like you got the hang of a goes and changes. You're continually going with the flow, whether you want to or not.

Your new hours are not other people's hours. When your child wakes up at ridiculous hours on the weekend, you adjust to the fact that sleeping until 7 a.m. is "sleeping in". You get used to playing on your phone while baby eats or plays or whatever. And then you remember you maybe shouldn't text friends when it's 6:25 on a Saturday morning. You do, however, appreciate the Snaps from your fellow mom friends who are in the same boat as you.

Don't read the news articles. Anytime I see a tragic news article involving children, especially one near my daughter's age, I get the urge to read it. And then I'm either anxious or sad about it. So, easy solution...don't click on the article.

Everything takes longer. It just takes forever to do anything when a baby is involved. Especially if it entails getting out of the house. A lot of times, there are diapers involved. Right after you finish dressing your child and putting them in their car seat. In my case, it takes me longer to do just about anything. I planned to write this blog post a solid month ago. Once again, give yourself grace.

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