Being a new parent is difficult. Not only do we worry about the outside harms that may potentially hurt our children, we feel guilty about our own shortcomings from being the "perfect mother." There are so many controversies and debates about what is best for our children. Bottle feed or breast? Cloth or disposable diapers?
As if being a mother isn’t a tough enough job, there is a constant peanut gallery that seems to be questioning and judging every decision we make about how we raise our children, and we tend to be our own worst critics.
There are so many different ways to parent and as they say, "no two children are exactly the same." However, that doesn't mean that we don't criticize ourselves for our choices when it comes to parenting. We aren't the perfect soccer mom, don't rule the carpool, or utilize a daycare and feel that somehow our choices are making us fall short of other parents.
Being a mom means devoting so much of ourselves and our lives to our children, but that doesn't mean that we don't need and deserve some well needed alone time...even if we feel guilty about it. We cannot spend our lives doubting ourselves and feeling guilty over every decision we make that affects our children.
Being a new mother is a whole new ball game that comes with its fair share of doubts, but it is incredibly important to remember that for every time we feel we fall short; there are a thousand things we are doing right for our babies.
14 Being the Perfect Mom
What even is the “perfect mom?” Does she drive a minivan, pack the best lunches, and magically heal boo-boos? Or does she hold a high-powered position in a big company, encourage education, and take her children to the best pediatrician? There’s no such thing as perfect, and there is certainly no such thing as the perfect mom. No matter how many parenting books we read, we aren’t going to get everything right.
It doesn’t help that we live in a society that puts us and our parenting in a fishbowl. We are constantly being judged as well as judging others and worst of all, judging ourselves against others. As if any two children, parents, or families are the same, we are comparing our failures and successes with those we see around us.
We compare everything from pregnancy and delivery to school choices to ages of milestones. None of us are ever going to be the perfect mother. There is no such thing. It’s easy to feel guilty for not fitting some ever changing stereotype of the perfect mom or live in comparison of other mothers who seem to have it all together, especially during the first few weeks and months when our lives feel like a constant mess of spit up and dirty diapers. Motherhood is not easy, but none of us should ever feel guilty for not being the perfect mother.
There are two sides to every story, including the breastfeeding versus formula debate. Breastfeeding is difficult and time consuming. It is also the most natural form of feeding and bonding that we can share with our babies. Breastfeeding can do so much for our relationship with our baby.
When they come into this new world, they are new and unfamiliar. We are their comfort. We are familiar. Breastfeeding also provides our babies with antibodies to help kick start baby's immune system. However, breastfeeding comes with its fair share of difficulties.
Many mothers have trouble with baby's latch. Breastfeeding can be painful as well. Someone is literally sucking on our nipple. There are also the issues with pumping, milk, production, and so many other challenges. Some mothers can't do, and others choose not to. Formula is easier and takes much less time. It's more convenient as well.
Whether formula feeding or breastfeeding, our babies are being feed. Again, that is the most important thing. Breastfeeding is seriously the most natural act and food source. It's healthy for baby and mom. Plus breast milk has a variety of extra uses.
12 Store Bought Versus Homemade Baby Food
Our society has greatly moved towards more natural, organic food which is great. Farm to table is growing in popularity and that includes the baby food industry as well. Many mothers are pureeing baby food out of vegetables from their very own gardens. This task takes a great amount of dedication.
It involves a lot of time not only preparing the food but also growing the garden. Maintaining a garden is hard work and requires resources that not everybody may have available. Some people do not have the space or environment to maintain a garden. Some people simply don't have the time.
Many of us still feed our babies the baby food that can be found in a grocery store and that is perfectly okay too. It's still food. It's still good for baby. He or she is still getting necessary nutrition, often still from breast milk or formula as well, and trying new foods. These mothers are not harming their babies. Store bought baby food is often times a convenience as well.
11 Me Time
Any mother knows that motherhood is a full time job. There are no breaks. Some days it's impossible to shower or even use the restroom without a little one joining us. There is always something we could or should be doing- laundry, cleaning bottles, or cuddling baby, but sometimes we have to simply take an hour or two for ourselves to relax and regroup. It's important for both mom and baby.It's easy to feel guilty about getting our hair done, taking a bath, or even reading a book as a mom especially with a new baby. That alone time is essential though, especially with a new baby. Taking time to regroup and relax will not only destress mom, but even help calm baby down as well.
Our kids sense when we are frustrated, stressed, and tense and often reflect those emotions. After refreshing with an hour at the gym or a nice hot bath, we are much better at handling an upset baby and conquering our daily tasks.
10 Getting Everything Right
Those first weeks and even months with a new baby are scary, confusing, and frustrating. We might have difficulty figuring out why baby is crying. We might feel overwhelmed from the lack of sleep and the mountain of laundry such a tiny person can accumulate.
Motherhood is full of decisions. Even without knowing it, we are making choices about our baby’s future. That's terrifying. Before our baby is even born, we picture how his or her life will be, where they'll sleep, what sports they'll play, and how he or she will look. We pick out diaper brands, clothing, doctors, and birthing plans. We think of how we want to parent and what kind of parents we want to be. We envision our child's future career and personality, as if we can decide that all for them.
Many mothers doubt and worry because every decision we make affects our babies. Spoiler alert: WE AREN’T GOING TO GET EVERYTHING RIGHT. It’s impossible, but it doesn’t make us bad mothers by any means. But choosing the wrong outfit or a brand of diapers that our mother-in-law doesn’t feel is good enough doesn’t make us bad parents. Taking our kids to a different pediatrician than our friends doesn’t mean it’s the wrong doctor. We don’t need to feel guilty about every choice we make. We aren’t going to get it right everytime.
9 Formula Feeding
There has always been a debate on formula feeding versus breastfeeding. Both have benefits and downfalls, but for some reason formula feeding gets a bad rap. Mothers who formula feed are criticized because it isn't natural, our bodies are meant to breastfeed, or even that we don't have our maternal priorities right.
The most important thing is that our babies are being fed, whether it's breast milk or formula, they are being fed! Some mothers physically can't breastfeed. Some mothers don't breastfeed because it just isn't right for them. That doesn't mean they are any less of a mother than the woman who exclusively breastfeeds.
It doesn't change how much we love our babies. We are lucky to be able to have a resource such as formula available to provide our babies with the necessary nutrition they need if that is what we, as their mothers, choose to do. There is no reason to feel guilty for making sure our babies are getting the proper nutrition.
Babies grow fast. Seriously, we look at our tiny newborns and before we know it they're trying to crawl and throwing sippy cups. Baby clothes are expensive, especially for outfits they'll wear a couple times before they no longer fit.
Whether baby is wearing outfits from an older sibling, thrift store, or another relative, hand me downs are still clothes. Babies are expensive as it is so there is no reason to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on clothes that will be worn for a couple weeks at most because they're new or brand name.
Some families simply don't have the financial ability to buy new clothes, toys, or accessories for their babies. It's expensive. There are more important things to spend money on like food, medical care, and eventually education. There is zero need to feel guilty because your baby's onesie has been passed down or generic socks.
Bonus if the money saved from buying used or hand-me-downs goes toward baby's future savings account or college fund. They will thank you one day for all of the hand-me-down clothes when they are able to avoid some student loans or buy his/her first car. There are many things more important than hand-me-downs so there is no need to feel guilty that your baby repeats outfits or wears something from his big brother.
7 Enough Socialization
Humans are social beings. Socialization is key for our success and for a healthy development of our children. Being a new mother means literally changing our lives. No matter how much or how little we let our new role as a parent affect our lives, it still will. Just as we feel guilty about taking "me time" many of us feel guilty about spending time with our friends, kids or no kids.
We feel guilty leaving the house without our babies or doing the things we did before they were born. It's natural, but that doesn't mean it's justified. Mom or not, we can and should still have grown up friends. Otherwise, we might end up speaking baby and playing with crayons at age 35. Talking with other adults can be an invaluable amount of support for parents.
Socialization is also essential for our baby's development. They need to interact with other children to learn how to share, interact, and learn social cues. If baby doesn't go to daycare, it can be common to worry if baby is getting the necessary socialization.
6 Enough Quality Time
Babies take a great deal of work and time. Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in our other chores and daily distractions. Sometimes we feel that if we don't spend every moment snuggled up to our baby, we aren't doing enough to bond with them. It's more than easy to feel guilty about the amount of quality time we are spending with our babies. Every moment away can feel like two.
It's not just us though. We often worry if our children get enough time with their fathers as well. Babies need bonding with both of their parents, but there is no measurable amount of time, cuddling, or how that quality time should be spent. We don't have the perfect recipe for the amount of time and love our children require and deserve.
That doesn't mean that we won't still worry or feel like we are lacking in the time we give our children. In today's day and age, moms are bashed for going out for date night or going to a meeting and leaving baby with a sitter. That can make it incredibly difficult for moms to feel confident in how much quality time they are providing their baby with.
Every mom has heard those horror stories of the abuse and neglect that happens in daycares on the news. It's insane and certainly kicks those maternal instincts into overdrive as well as laying on an extra thick layer of guilt for those of us who utilize daycare centers for our little ones.
That on top of other generations who love to remind us of how they didn't have such a luxury of a daycare center to send their little ones to can really put a damper on new moms. How could we possibly leave our babies for 8 hours a day? It's not as if we are running out the door and never looking back.
Heck, even if that is the case, what's the big deal? Daycare centers provide millions of children with all day care, attention, curriculums, and meals. Many of those caregivers and teachers love their children as their own. Plus, daycare is an opportunity for children to make friends and get essential socialization with other children!
4 Going Back to Work
It's 2016 and the woman's place is no longer simply in the home. We work, we go out, and we can even be the breadwinners. Yet somehow so many of us are guilt tripped by others and ourselves about the fact that we work outside of our homes. Some mothers simply cannot afford to not go back to work, and others of us believe it or not actually like our jobs and want to go back.
Just because a woman is a mother does not mean she should have to spend her days changing diapers and playing Mozart for her baby. That lifestyle simply isn't for everyone. There are plenty of wonderful mothers who love their babies and their jobs. It doesn't make us any less of a mother than a woman whose workday is surrounded around her children.
There is zero reason to feel guilty about being a mother who also has a career. A profession doesn't change how much a woman loves her child.
3 Disposable Diapers or Cloth Diapers
Our society has put a great focus on being all natural and saving the environment. In no way, shape, or form does that mean that mothers should feel guilty because we use disposable diapers instead of keeping a bin of diapers filled with number one and two and doing loads of extra diaper laundry every day!
Cloth diapers are regaining popularity as if they're some trend from the 80's such as the neon colors that have been popping up all over again. People are actually giving moms the guilt trip because they haven't regressed back to the times of cloth diapers.
There is no reason to feel guilty for using disposable diapers instead of cloth. We are no less of a parent because we choose not to spend time doing unnecessary laundry than we could choose to spend with our babies. We aren’t harming our babies in any way because of disposable diapers.Plus disposable diapers are a great deal more convenient and although they are rather costly over time, we can always save money with store specials and coupons.
Cloth diapers can have their perks as well. Over a significant period of time, they do usually end up saving us some money. They can also be easier on babies with sensitive skin than a disposable diaper. Either way diapers are diapers, and there is no need to mommy shame or guilt trip yourself over something so simple.
2 Enough Stimulation
Babies need stimulation in order for their brains to grow and develop. We will probably spend our entire lives worrying about our children's development and education. Education for babies starts with stimulation. It helps them to learn. It gives them a reason to be curious.
Just as we doubt ourselves and question our own parenting choices, we wonder how much stimulation we are actually providing our baby with during the day and its quality. Somedays by the end of the night it is easy to wonder, "Did I actually play that game or show him that toy today or was that yesterday?" We might feel guilty because we didn't keep a specific chart or even a lesson plan on baby's playtime.
We need to remember it's just that right now- playtime. It isn't the end of the world if we forgot to do one game or skipped an educational toy or video that day. It isn't going to ruin baby's chances of being a genius. There is no set amount of stimulation that is key to baby's development. Listen to baby and mother's intuition, when it seems like baby is done playing then let it be.
1 Staying At Home
Mommy hood is full of decisions, and we all spend a great deal of time contemplating how those choices will affect our children. There are many perks of children having a stay at home mother; however, there is also an added financial burden to the loss of one income. For many moms, that can be a difficult hurdle to overcome. Being a stay at home mom is a wonderful opportunity that not every mom can or wants to do.
Those of us who do stay home may feel guilty because being a stay at home mother is a thankless and payless job. There is no paycheck for the endless chores we do for our family members and to maintain our households. That can make it easy for a new mom to feel guilty about her decision to stay home with baby instead of going back to work.
Staying at home all day with a baby can come with its own frustrations and guilt trips as well. It is difficult to deal with a baby all day, everyday. It doesn’t matter how much we love our children; they can wear us down somedays. It can make us second guess our decision to stay home. There is no manual for handling being a stay at home mom. It is difficult. It will get frustrating but that doesn’t mean it can’t be the right choice for a great deal of us who decide to do it.