Friday, August 23, 2013

5 Tips for New Moms (the things we wished we'd known)

This post brought to you by HUGGIES. All opinions are 100% mine.

Recently both of us at Domestic Bliss Squared have friends becoming mothers for the first time. This has sparked a lot of discussion between us about our own experiences, and the things that we wish we had known about motherhood when we first had our sweet baby girls.We were lucky enough to have been through these experiences together almost at the same time (our girls are only a few weeks apart) and shared every aspect of our pregnancies and motherhood together. (For a detailed history of our friendship and our pregnancies you can read this post here.)

5 tips for new moms

I know! This is a DIY/lifestyle blog, right? This isn't our normal kind of post. Don't worry, our regularly scheduled content will be back tomorrow! This is something we feel strongly about sharing, and we always love to take the opportunity to give you guys a bit more personal look at our lives. We feel it's important to be real and show that even bloggers who sometimes seem to "have it all together" still struggle with the same problems and have the same joys as our readers. Our lives aren't perfect! They're just photographed that way.
In the spirit of the amazing miracle that is becoming a mother, and with much love to those other moms out there, we thought we would share with you our very personal top 5 tips every new mom should know. These are the things we wish someone would have told us before the birth of our little girls five years ago!

tips for new moms

Read our tips after the jump!

1. While your baby out!  Ha!  I (Hilary) bet you thought I was going to share the old tip of "sleep when your baby sleeps."  When we finally got my daughter's acid reflux under control, she slept.  A lot.  I napped, crafted a little and read books.  I figured that when she got a little older, and I had recovered a bit more from my c-section, I would start working out.

Bad idea!   I started getting serious about exercising and running on my treadmill around the time she was 6 months.  She would nap, I would run.  I started to build up miles and then BAM!  My daughter dropped her morning nap.  Suddenly, I only had one two-hour period of time to myself during the day and it was difficult to use it to exercise when I had cooking/cleaning/projects/organizational things to do.  I stopped running consistently and it wasn't until my daughter was much older (and I had free time) that I started again.

In hindsight, I wished I had started running and working out when my daughter was very little.  She slept so much at first and I could have lost some baby weight and toned up a bit before she was awake and into everything.  Sleeping while your baby sleeps is important.  You have to be rested.  But I wished I had used that quiet time a little more effectively at the beginning.

2. Create an effective clothes sorting system.  I (Hilary) love baby clothes.  I still have a few dresses that my daughter wore as an infant stuck in my closet and I hoard my son's too small baby shoes.  My wonderful friends showered me with tiny infant onesies and jammies.  I washed all of the clothes in Dreft, folded them lovingly, loaded them into the dresser...then promptly had an 8 lb. 2 oz. baby who was super long and barely fit into the newborn clothes I had.  

One night, I was changing my daughter's onesie after she spit up all over it for the third time (did I mention she had acid reflux?).  I remember digging through her dresser, trying to find some piece of clothing that fit her and weeping because I just. needed. clothes. that. fit.

As my daughter rapidly grew in her first few years (she wore 18 month clothes at 6 months old), I did not have a good clothing organization system.  I would haphazardly throw clothes that were way too small into a bucket in the closet, but I wasn't consistent.  It got to the point where at any point, I had four or five sizes of clothing jammed in the drawers.

When my husband tried to dress three-year-old daughter in an 18 month onesie, I knew I needed a better system.  With my son, I was more organized.  I didn't have four hundred newborn outfits and two 3-6 month outfits.  Instead, I kept a few articles of clothing in each size, then as soon as he had obviously outgrown one size, all of the clothes went into a thrift store bucket, and I pulled a bunch of clothes in the next size up from a bucket in my closet and put them in the dresser.

It was much easier and my husband has yet to put my son in a too-small onesie.  

This seems like a weird tip, right?  But it is stressful when you have a baby wriggling on a changing table and you can't find any clothing that fits.  Being able to quickly pull clothes out of a dresser can decrease stress and increase your confidence as a mom.

3. Be smart about buying diapers! Buy diapers. Buy them NOW and buy a ton. I (Jessica) actually stocked up on a ton of diapers with both of my pregnancies on the advice of a friend, and it was a beautiful thing. We bought diapers before our babies were born, while we still had the money!

As soon as we hit 20 weeks pregnant my husband and I started buying diapers! We didn't bother with very many newborn or size 1's because those are the ones your friends and family will get you in spades for a baby shower. Instead we focused on the middle sizes, 2's, 3's and 4's. We also did a cost comparison and bought our diapers at the cheapest store. When my daughter was born almost five years ago, that was hands down Walmart. We stocked up on the "brand name" diapers for only a few cents over the generics. HUGGIES® Little Snugglers Diapers, HUGGIES® Pure & Natural Diapers and HUGGIES NATURAL CARE® Wipes were our favorites because they were one of the first companies to make a "natural" diaper and we're big on that.  We also liked that they were always available at Walmart, which was right across the street from our house and where we bought all of our baby essentials

We ended up not having to buy diapers for nearly six months with my daughter, and with the Dude we didn't buy diapers for close to a year after he was born. Do you know how much diapers cost?!? Our diaper bill would have been over $100 a month with the Dude. Not having that monthly expense was huge while our family paying medical bills from a c-section!

4. Don't push yourself or let others push you into something that doesn't work for you and your baby. There are many ways to be a mom, and becoming a mom is wonderful but it's also hard, hard, hard. It's very important to surround yourself with people who will be positive and support you unconditionally on your journey to becoming a parent.

When I (Jessica) first became a mom I had so many expectations about what I was going to do and what motherhood "should" be like. And to be honest, there were a lot of other people around me who also had opinions on what I "should" be like as a mother. They may have been well meaning, but the pressure was still there. 

The problem was that when my daughter arrived nothing worked the way it "should." I had a c-section. I had severe PPD. Breastfeeding completely failed despite trying literally EVERYTHING to keep up supply (it was the most awful experience of my life). We co-slept out of sheer sleep-deprived desperation. I let her cry it out. I gave her a pacifier until 2 1/2. And you know what else I did? I started to ignore what other people thought and said, and weed out people in my life who weren't supportive of me. And I haven't looked back since! Who cares if other people don't agree with the things that work for you and your precious baby? You are the mother, and you know best for your child.

As I found my footing as a mother I realized how important it is not to parent the way someone else thinks you "should." You need to be the mother to your baby that you think you should, and keep your expectations realistic. Be fearless and trust yourself. Know that just because you make different choices from your parents, your friends, or the women on your birth board doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. And make sure that you really appreciate the amazing people in your life who support you no matter what!

5. Find a friend.  My (Hilary's) daughter struggled with acid reflux and it is still painful for me to remember those first few months.  Any mom who’s had a baby with undiagnosed acid reflux knows how awful and isolating it is to be leaking, recovering and trying to feed a baby who screams, bucks and throws it up.  I remember watching other babies breastfeed or take a bottle, eat and fall asleep contently and being jealous.  My baby screamed and screamed and screamed and all I could think is why is this so hard?  I remember rocking my little girl and singing the ABCs while I wept and she screamed.

It is difficult to express how important my friendship with Jessica was during that time.  She was the only person I knew (besides my mom) that I could call and “confess” that being a mom was hard and...I was a terrible one.  Her love carried me from weeping mommy to a proud mommy.  Her enthusiasm for my parenting skills and ability to cheer me on carried me through a new baby, serious postpartum and adjusting to mommyhood.  She shared clothes and supplies with me, spent endless hours debating diapers (name brand vs. generic?) and cried with me when I was low.

I think it is common knowledge that moms need support, but my tip is find a friend.  A friend who you can ask embarrassing questions (is that normal?  when will it get easier?  what growth appeared where?).  A friend who will cry when you do, then tell you what an amazing mom you are.  A friend who won’t ask, “isn’t mommyhood amazing?” and expect a yes, but will look in your red, droopy eyes and ask, “how are you?

This is easier said than done.  I wasn’t very close to Jessica for years after we met.  I still remember how difficult it was to call her for the first time and have a stilted conversation.  But it was worth every moment.  And now five years later, I can’t imagine my life without that kind of friendship.  Sometimes you have to reach out to other moms.  Sometimes your best friend lives 430 miles away. Sometimes the best support is a tight group of women on a pregnancy board.

At the end of the day, you can plan, purchase and organize.  You can follow our tips or tips from your mom/sister/the internet, but the ultimate tip is find moms who will love and support you through the most stressful and rewarding experience of your life: mommyhood.

5 tips for new moms


  1. These are all fantastic ideas! I wish I had known these things when I had my first baby. :)

    Ana Paula
    {Visit me at Mommyhood, PhD}

  2. I wish I read your post when my baby was still a month old. Now baby is 6 months old, she still has naps in he morning but she wakes up fast so I don't get to do anything other than have some rest beside her. I really should start sorting out her clothes too. There are already a lot of things there that won't fit and I barely have the time to take it out of the closet and put them away.

  3. Some great advice for new and expecting Moms. Found you thru The Meet and Greet Blog Hop. Now following via GFC, hope u can stop by my blog as well.

    Anne Marie

  4. Great tips! And it's not the same old tips either. As for number 1- so true. I thought I was supposed to eat like a cow when I was pregnant. Then I kept eating like a cow after. It took me years to get it off. New moms don't wanna hear excersize...we were barely sleeping!!! But yes, so true!

    1. We realized that as we were writing them! They aren't the same old tips, but hopefully they are helpful ones! And I struggled with the eating like a cow after my daughter too, when I was tired and stressed, it was all I had energy for!

  5. I LOVE this post. So honest, so relatable, so many similarities to my experience when I was a new mom :-)

    1. We tried to be honest! So many moms gloss over the hard parts, so we tried to share that not everyone has a super magical easy experience!

  6. how adorable the twins!! thanks for sharing the tips!! it helps!!

    painting reproductions

  7. Lovely tips! I like #1! Have a great wknd! Saw u at show and tell Friday!
    xoxo Carly

  8. These are great tips! It's so overwhelming becoming a mom for for the first (or second!) time. I really agree with number one--either work out or sleep while the baby sleeps. Getting time in to work out really lifts me up!
    I'm stopping by from Strut Your Stuff (#88 Chocolate Covered Pretzels and 90 How to Clean Outdoor Toys) Have a great weekend!

  9. Man! I think someone who is pregnant or a new mommy will love this post. I would add, don't feel judged by the mommy's on FB who push their mommy agendas. It's really easy to start having anxiety about what they'll think if you get boosters/don't, breastfeed/don't. It's really tempting to ask FB for advice on these pushy areas, but your best bet is befriending mom's at MOPS or a church or the community pool or park. Not that women don't push their agendas there, but find a few close ones who you can trust.

    Found you at TT&J.

    1. This is so true! In real life, when actually looking at your face, other Moms tend to be a lot less judgmental. I totally agree, don't ask Facebook for advice! Instead, focus on finding a real group of supportive people around yourself. Good advice!

  10. Great tips and advice. Thanks so much for linking to Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

  11. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post on the BeBetsy BRAG ABOUT IT Link and Hop. Great tips!

    Sharon and Denise ♥

  12. What wonderful advice!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

  13. These are fantastic tips! I hesitantly clicked over wondering what advice was going to present itself, but I LOVE and completely agree with ALL of these. Haha, Finally, some advice that is helpful. I totally laughed about the laundry one. I still struggle with this. I'm sharing on Facebook. And featuring you tonight at the blog hop!

    Kristina @ Mother's Niche


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