Ah, motherhood. It’s a magical, crazy ride with an incredibly steep learning curve, as a newborn baby relies on his or her mother to be everything: food, shelter, comfort, you name it. So it’s no surprise that with the arrival of a new baby, many things that were previously deemed important no longer seem so. To be frank, once that baby arrives home from the hospital, new moms really don’t give a flying fish about a number of things they previously deemed essential to their lives.
The truth of the matter is, the newborn stage, while the most difficult, is also the shortest period in a child’s life. So if new moms need to let certain inconsequential things fall by the wayside for a few months, what’s the harm? Their sanity will stay intact as a result, and really, that’s what matters most when they’re just trying to get through the day with a brand-new bundle of (screaming, pooping) joy.
A new mom can safely let these 15 things (or anything else she wants) slip in her life and know that once baby is a little more self-sufficient, things will eventually get back to some semblance of normal. But it just might be a new normal, one where perfectly coiffed hair and a full face of makeup are not all that imperative to a happy life.
15 Personal Hygiene
It’s inevitable, and most new moms agree: in the throes of those first weeks home with baby, concerns for personal hygiene tend to fly out the window. For someone who’s getting little to no sleep, why would clean hair, teeth or sheets rate on the list of important tasks to achieve in a day? Not to mention that many newborn babies often refuse to be put down, so really, when would mom have a chance to step into the shower? The best a new mom can hope to achieve on the hygiene front when baby is small, is applying deodorant and hoping for the best… but when there’s breastmilk and baby spit up on every T-shirt, deodorant is almost redundant. And really, who cares? Baby sure doesn’t, and visitors better not, unless they’re offering to hold the newborn to give mom time for a nap and a 30-minute soak in the tub.
14 Getting The Girls Out In Public
The one thing I didn’t see coming when I became a mom was how difficult breastfeeding really is when you’re starting out. Sure, I was told so by friends, midwives and the internet, but until I actually tried to get my newborn to latch, stay latched, and not fall asleep mid-snack, I really didn’t understand this unique challenge. Previously a modest person, I very quickly became one that would whip off my shirt in the presence of almost anyone when it was time for baby to feed - breastfeeding cover be damned, I needed to see what was going on! It’s not uncommon for breastfeeding to make an exhibitionist out of even the most discreet mom: and that’s because breasts, in this context, are no longer a body part related to sex. They are feeding machines, keeping baby nourished. In the same way that people don’t care if others see the sandwich they’re having for lunch, new moms really stop caring whether strangers see the trappings of their baby’s preferred cuisine.
13 Getting A Workout In
This one should go without saying. Not only are new moms recovering from what is typically a pretty harrowing experience on her body, no matter whether she gave birth vaginally or by C-section, but they are also just too. goddamn. tired to get moving. Unfortunately, our society’s obsession with celebrity culture and the media’s persistent portrayal of the celebrity moms whose bodies “bounce back” a few weeks after pregnancy means that this point needs to be hammered home once in a while: getting your body back is rarely on the top 10 (or even 50) things a new mom cares about. Sure, she may have a niggling voice in the back of her mind saying, “I’ve got to get back in shape!” But that voice can be shut down mighty quickly when the opportunity for some personal time arises -what new mom in her right mind would choose the treadmill over a nap, or even a shower?
12 Making Dinner
Or lunch. Or breakfast. This is why, if you have a friend who’s a new mom, you must bring her a casserole for her freezer every time you see her. She is surviving on cereal and microwave meals, because who has time to make a proper, nutritionally balanced meal when there’s a baby to be fed and a few moments of sleep to be stolen? When I was pregnant, my mother came and stocked my freezer with comfort food that we could stick in the oven each evening. At the time I thought she was being overbearing and trying to make a comment on my (lack of) culinary expertise. One week and seven meals of beans on toast after baby was born, I began to appreciate what she’d been trying to do: keep us parents alive while we flailed around in our attempts to come to grips with being a parent. Thanks, mom.
11 A Clean House
There’s laundry everywhere, toys underfoot, and a pile of dishes the height of Everest on the kitchen counter. But who cares? The baby is finally, finally asleep in her bassinet, and there was one clean mug left, thank god, for an extra-strong cup of coffee and a chance to sit down after bouncing the baby all afternoon. One day, when that baby has grown a little, your house will be (mostly) tidy again, so don’t sweat it: unless Queen Elizabeth herself is arriving in 10 minutes, take a load off, put the state of the house out of your mind, and learn to enjoy the time you have when you have it. Because before that cup of coffee is even finished, there’s an extremely good chance baby will be crying out again for mama to come pick her up.
10 The Other Kids' Screen Time
Your first child has so far been raised on an enriching cycle of puzzles, activity books and educational toys. Once a new baby arrives, that’s all going to change. Experts say children shouldn’t be allowed to watch TV or use screens (iPads, smartphones) until the age of two, and then only in very small doses. These experts clearly aren’t home all day with a newborn and a slightly jealous toddler. The most effective way to attempt to put a new baby down for her nap when you’ve got another kid under five is to stick the toddler in front of Daniel Tiger or The Wiggles and hope the flashing images keep him occupied for more than 10 minutes. All that time spent worrying about whether a few minutes of TV has ruined your toddler will have been in vain, as your firstborn soaks up hours of screen time. And you really, really won’t GAF. Because a few minutes of peace is all that’s needed, and believe me, other moms everywhere are doing the exact same thing.
9 Single Friends’ Work And Relationship Issues
OK, so it’s not that new moms don’t care, per se, about their friends’ problems and lives. It’s just that keeping a tiny human alive way, way outranks work and relationship issues, at least for a little while. When you’re only sleeping in two hour spurts and the baby screams for two-hour intervals post-feed because of gas, it’s really hard to focus on a friend who seems to tell the same story over and over each time you see her (“Didn’t that already happen?” “No, that was with Rob, this is John. Seriously, do you even listen to me?” Hmm. I guess I couldn’t hear you over the mantra of self-doubt that’s running through my head at all times.) New moms will get it together eventually (really, we all do, eventually) and be back on form as a good friend. But cut yourself some slack if you don’t GAF about your friends right now. You have bigger fish to fry, and they’ll understand and be happy to have their friend back when you’re ready.
8 Career Paths
Aside from making sure the maternity pay is coming in on time, all career concerns will most definitely be put on hold for the time being. Regardless of how meticulously you worked up until the birth, it all changes once a new baby enters the world. And not necessarily because you’re too entranced by your beautiful new child to think about work; it’s more likely you’re just too tired and preoccupied and riddled with worry for your new baby’s sleeping and eating habits to care whether that very important project you were working on got off the ground. Work colleagues might send well-meaning updates to assure that all is well in your absence. That’s sweet, and really unnecessary, because work is the furthest thing from a new mom’s mind. Once your baby is a little more self-sufficient, the focus on your career might come back to the fore; but if it doesn’t, that’s OK too. Having children really puts things into perspective.
7 Getting Dressed
Everyone says: sleep when the baby sleeps. And really, one of the easiest ways to abide by this is to never get dressed. Who needs tummy-pinching jeans or shirts with fussy buttons to undo when there are comfy flannel pyjamas or, for special occasions, stretchy, forgiving yoga wear? Sure, new moms might need to throw on a clean T-shirt if they’re leaving the house, but if the plan is to stay in with baby all day, save some energy and don’t bother with elaborate outfits for either mom or baby. Comfort is key in those first months of motherhood, and no one is going to dispute that. New moms are basically walking zombies, and no one expects zombies to be dressed to the nines. Make sure you hang out as much as possible with other new moms, not only for the camaraderie (“Mine is doing that too!”) but also so no one has to compare their outfits to people in the workforce who have to look a certain way.
6 Being Punctual
Again, it’s not necessarily that new moms stop caring about being on time… it’s just that there are so many factors that all seem to conspire when trying to get out of the house. First, the baby is fussy, so an extra long feeding session is necessary. Then, the baby poops all over the adorable outfit he’s just been dressed in and needs a full change (maybe even a bath) and new clothes. And then there are all the supplies to get ready when leaving the house: diapers, wipes, lotions, bottles, soothers, etc… and this is without the confounding number of clothes baby will need to be dressed in if it’s winter. New moms learn to schedule their lives very loosely, giving friends time ranges instead of hard meeting times. Because regardless of when the last feed was, if baby starts screaming, mom has to drop everything and get that child fed.
5 Other Parents’ Opinions
It’s a symptom of the social media age that we all know what other moms are doing, all of the time. And it’s far, far too easy for other parents to take a look at a new mom and decide to tell her all the myriad ways she’s doing everything wrong, or even offer well-meaning tips and tricks from some great new parenting book she’s reading. It’s tempting, I know, to give unsolicited advice. The thing is, moms forget very quickly what each stage of babyhood is like - they have to, otherwise they might never get through to the next one. So what’s working for a six-month-old will almost definitely not work for a three-month-old, and that’s hard to remember. But moms everywhere know deep down how different babies are from one another, and that something that worked for their friend’s cousin will probably not work for them. It’s the rule of babies: they defy comprehension and the only way to handle it is trial and error. Other mothers’ well-meant advice usually does not apply.
4 Sharing TMI
Something happened to me after I gave birth: I became incapable of shutting my mouth when it came to all the gross and, frankly, horrific things that happened during labour. It was like a rite of passage; now that I had been through this life-altering ordeal, I needed to share all the gory details as often as possible, with whomever I could get to listen. I even told my landlady about parts of the birth, because she seemed receptive to talking about it. In retrospect, I think it was how I processed the experience, but I feel a little sorry for all the friends who had to hear the tale. Thankfully I did eventually learn to limit sharing this kind of information with only other moms, who understand the need to blabber on about little Jimmy’s bowel movements or the ravaged state of my post-breastfeeding bosom. But still, these topics are no longer off-limits, as they once were, and I have childbirth to thank for that.
3 Being Intimate
New moms really, really don’t GAF about sex. Their ladyparts have just been through a major trauma, they’re still bleeding and sore, their breasts are not their own… needless to say, the idea of a roll in the hay has definitely lost its appeal. And even new dads, while they might be interested in getting busy, are often just as tired as their partners after all the night feeds, and will happily give up sex for a good night’s sleep instead. In this way, mother nature tries her best to protect us all from that most terrifying prospect of having another child directly after the first. So heed your body’s advice and don’t force it. A healthy sex drive will return, when your body is ready, and your partner should be able to respect that, after all you’ve been through.
2 The Price Of Newborn Sleep Aids
Leading up to having my first baby, my husband and I tried to get ready on a budget: no elaborate nursery plans for us. We didn’t need a bouncy chair or special bassinet, baby would sleep in his crib! No bottles or soothers, baby would breastfeed! It’s free, and it’s convenient.
It’s safe to say we had no idea how little we would care about money once the baby had arrived and wouldn’t stop crying. Suddenly, we had no problem coming up with the cash for a baby bassinet and chair… anything, anything that might help him (and therefore us parents) sleep. And we tried all kinds of soothers and bottles, whatever might work to help with baby’s terrible colic. I have friends that have shelled out big bucks on the promise of various snuggly sleep aids for newborns, with no regrets whatsoever. Trust me, even if they only work for one blissful night, it’s a win.
1 Being Fashionable
Forget the latest trends, most new moms will be happy if their outfit it at least clean when they leave the house (it likely won’t stay that way, since newborns have that perfect timing of spitting up as soon as their mom is away from the house). And not only that, a new mom’s body is so very different from her pregnant and pre-baby bodies, and is changing by the day. Immediately post-birth, most moms will still need to wear their pregnancy clothes. Within a few weeks, the belly will start to shrink, but it’s anyone’s guess when things will start to normalize and the body (and hormones) will begin to get back to some semblance of normal. But this is all fine, because what mom has time for shopping anyway? As soon as you step into a shop’s changing room the baby will definitely wake up and need something, and you’ll have no time or energy for that shopping spree anyway.