Things I learned in the first 6 months as a new parent

This year we welcomed our first child, our daughter, Kinsley into the world. It has been the best thing that’s ever happened to us as a couple. Our daughter is without a doubt the center of our world. Now that she is 6 months old, I can’t help but think back on the first 6 months of her life and how different it was as compared to now.

Obviously, experiences may differ from person to person and some of the things I’ve learned might not apply to anyone. This is my experience and what had worked for us.

  1. It is OK to say no to visitors or limit them.
    Family and friends will want to visit but understand that you can limit the visitations to certain days or time or as I’ve read, even length of the visits. While we didn’t give time limits for each visit, I always made sure that we had enough alone time. Weekends were mainly for us and we didn’t have visitors EVERY week or weekend. We valued the times we had when we told people that we would like to just spend time as a new family. Yes, your families will be very excited to welcome a new member especially if the brand new child is the first grandchild. The first few weeks/months after having a child is such an exciting, nerve-racking, and emotional time. I come from a big family so I’m very familiar with babies and having people around. My husband comes from a smaller family and our daughter was the first grandchild so obviously, it’s a big deal. BUT, it is going to help you get into a routine without the influence of others. It also helps lower the number of germs around your newborn. My husband was home for about 10 days after the baby was born then went back to work. You need the time to yourselves to just figure out the new normal. It’s the best time to really figure out being parents and doing things together as a family. While family and friends might not understand at first, they will eventually get it when you tell them how important it is to you. Hopefully. 
  2. Don’t worry about how your house looks.
    Ok, obviously keep it clean for the baby, but it’s ok to have unfolded laundry around or leaving the dishes in the sink for a day or two. For the first few months after our daughter was born, it was a luxury to have folded clothes. We did laundry but after they were dry, they pretty much just stayed in the baskets until we wore them. It was a treat when my sister came over and helped us with some house chores. Really a huge help to me. But honestly, for the most part, it’s ok to maybe not have the house looking spotless and tidy when you, as a new mom, are home alone with a baby. You are taking care of a newborn and that should be your number priority. Chores become secondary. 
  3. It’s OK to take some ME time.
    This is a hard one, especially for a new mom. As a new mom, you want to be there for everything your child needs. I’m that mom who is always there. Who feels the need to do and fix everything. It’s ok to seek help or ask for a break. Take a long shower. Shop online or just add things to your cart and not buy it. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s ok to take 10 minutes to yourself and just do nothing. Taking care of a child is hard work. It is exhausting but it is also rewarding. Doing something for you is important. Do not forget about yourself. It is always a good idea to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. A happy mommy = a happy baby = a happy husband/partner. 
  4. It’s OK to say to be a stay-at-home mom.
    First, I thought I would go back to work after my 12-week maternity leave. I didn’t go back. Before we had Kinsley, I always said that I could never be a stay at home. I’ve always put myself into my job so it wasn’t a question in my mind that I would go back to work after my leave. I always thought that I needed to go back to work and my daughter would be with a babysitter or some sort of daycare. I thought that being a stay-at-home mom would be boring and that I would not really have anything to do at home…well, besides taking care of a baby. Boy, was I wrong? After being home with our daughter, I realized that she was more important than being at work to just work. Now I know I am very fortunate to be able to stay at home and raise our daughter, but again, this is something I thought I would never do or would want to do. I know that other parents may not have a choice but for us, it has been the best decision we have made for her. 
  5. Don’t be afraid to travel.
    I’ve heard people say, travel as much as you can before you have kids because you won’t be able to when you have them. Yes, it makes it a little bit more difficult but it’s possible. We actually went on an 8 hr plane ride to Hawaii when Kinsley was just over 3 months old. It was actually not that bad. I have a post on how to travel with an infant that highlights all the preparations we did for the vacation. Traveling with your infant is not as hard or scary as people might think. You just have to be prepared and keep an open mind. If they have a meltdown during a flight or in transit somewhere, just stay calm and remind yourself that it is just one day and that one or two meltdowns are not going to define your vacation. 
  6. No matter how many times you say it, you will still do things you said you were not going to do. Trust your instincts.
    I have to laugh at this one. When preparing for a child, there are so many things you think about doing and not doing. I always said that I wouldn’t be able to nurse my daughter, but I did. Oh, and I did it without pressure from any medical professional. They actually helped me when I was having troubles. We also said that we would never co-sleep. We do. We were nervous at first but Kinsley was sleeping longer and better when she was in our bed instead of by herself. As new parents, you do things you say you would never do. If it benefits you and your child, why not? If it’s not endangering anyone, why not? Be educated but trust your instincts. If it feels right for you, it probably is. 
  7. Resist buying all the clothes.
    This is hard. There are so many cute clothes and outfits. I cannot go to Target without buying clothes for Kinsley. Seriously it is so hard when you see all the cute clothes. BUT…babies grow so quickly that some of the clothes we got were never worn. Kinsley wore sleep’n’plays all the time. We rarely go to parties so those fancy baby dresses we had, we never used. Not to mention they are a pain in the butt to put on. She grew out of a lot of the clothes so now I’m being more cognizant of the clothes and outfit I buy for her. 
  8. Enjoy the moments…including the hard ones.
    Sometimes I find myself needing my phone to be on me constantly. I realize that nothing is more important than being in the moment. It has been enjoyable to experience the things I have with my daughter. Teaching her things and learning how to be a parent as we spend our days together. Of course, I have hundreds and maybe thousands of photos of her, but I spend less time being on my phone and social media now that I have my little girlfriend to keep me occupied. We have days where we struggle and days where it’s all roses. But being someone’s mom is the hardest, most rewarding job there is. I keep reminding myself in those hard moments that time is constantly moving and it is not slowing down. That even when times are hard, it won’t last. So just enjoy the laughs and keep going through the struggles. It’s all worth it.
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