We’ve just finished our How to Survive Your First Year of Marriage series (from the ladies’ perspective and from the guys’) and the responses were amazing. I think there’s something about reading others’ fears, hopes and expectations and how they stack up against reality that makes you feel like you’re not alone, or crazy, in this ever changing world. Next up in our series is the biggest, most amazing, life changing moment of all: motherhood. The first year absolutely flips your life upside down and opens your heart in ways you couldn’t imagine. Some of our favorite women out there shared their tips on how to survive the rollercoaster first year of motherhood:

  • Take your time. It’s a process. it won’t be the same as it is with others. Mine has been a struggle. I keep wondering how other mums do it. So I have learnt to just take it one step at a time and not compare to others. Appreciate that you are doing your best and maybe one day you’ll get the hang of it. I’ve learnt that everyday is a new day, my baby changes every single day and what worked the day before won’t work tomorrow. I wasn’t the happiest mum for the first 6 months, infact I battled with feeling like a failure and wondering where I went wrong.lol. I had to realise that I was being too hard on myself and I should cut myself some slack. Find ways to keep your sanity and stay happy and stay connected to who you were before baby. – Tito Idakula, My Lighthouse.
  • Be ready and willing to do things your own way, advice from seasoned mothers is always welcomed, but often times doesn’t apply to you as an individual. I think that the minute we find out we’re expecting, we tend to read up on the latest parenting trends/books in hopes to mother perfectly. I’m guilty of that. I believe that there’s no greater teacher in life than experience, and that mom life is one worth approaching without a specific plan as it relates to what everyone else is doing. You will be equipped with the tools needed to be the best mum you can be. It comes naturally ! – Charlotte B, Milk n Honee.
  • Cut yourself some slackAdjusting to motherhood is a big deal, for one it’s a role you’ve never played.  I would say cut yourself some slack in terms of expectations, your experience is unique to you and your child. One day you might be perfectly seamless, the next might be crazy disorganized, it’s totally fine! In all this, remember to ENJOY the journey. Take a 1000 pictures if you like. Do all the DIY things you saved in your Pinterest :). Create beautiful memories. It’s important to BE PRESENT as with all things this is time you can’t slow down or get back. – Bolanle Williams-Olley.

  • No mom is perfect. The faster you come to terms with that fact, the easier motherhood will be for you. As a first time mom, there’s really no manual to follow, you’re literally walking in blindly and learning as you go. For example, the day I had my daughter, the nurses had brought in those little bottles of formula, I thought because they were brought in, I was supposed to feed the entire thing to my daughter. So when she cried, I stuck one of the bottles in her mouth and fed her THE ENTIRE BOTTLE!!! Now, if you’ve had a brand new baby, you know there’s no way they can or should drink over 5 ounces of milk within their first few hours of life! My poor baby had a running stomach the entire night, I felt soo guilty and like I had already failed my first task as a mom! Looking back now, I can laugh over this, but  that’s the joy of motherhood. Cut yourself some slack!  It’s a learning curve, and in no time, you’ll have it down pat. – Nkem Odum, @kemberlicious
  • Breathe and Enjoy the Moment: Remember this, the nights are long but the years are short. So, although you are probably crazy overwhelmed, sleep deprived and tired of unsolicited advice, find the joy in every moment because you will long for the first years once they are gone. Smell and touch your baby, Study everything about them, Pay attention! One day they won’t fit on your lap, and they won’t let you hold their hands (true story, my 2.5 year old wants to walk by himself now “real tears”). I am the crazy mum who documented every single day for the first 365 days of my twins’ life, and this is the BEST gift I could have ever given myself in not only intentionally creating moments but having those memories to hold on to (use chatbooks and thank me later). By the way you should totally do this for years 2 and 3 because toddlers are hilarious! Simply do what you can as you figure out your new normal. Finally, don’t compare yourself to the mom with the “perfectly scripted” life on IG. Trust me she does not know what the heck she is is doing either. Parent with love and trust your mama instincts, it would never lead you astray. – Dami Okuboyejo, Parchment by Dami.

  • Ask for helpJust say yes! If friends or family offer to cook you dinner, help with laundry or sit with the baby while you nap (or go to Target alone), let them. I know it’s hard to let other people do things for you, but if they are offering, that means they want to help. Say yes. Believe me, there will be a time when you can return the favor. – Jessica Kielman, Today Parenting Team.
  • Take Power Naps: Before you have a baby, you get to sleep for 6-8 straight hours at night. This becomes impossible as soon as you have a baby, and very likely for the entire first year of motherhood. Enter the power nap – where you learn to sleep for short periods of 30 to 45 minutes (max an hour!) Please sleep as often as you can, whenever you can. It seems surreal at first but i promise you, you wil be extremely cranky if you do not get some sleep. You will be surprised how much strength you will recover from taking a power nap and you will find that this is an essential survival tool in the first year of motherhood!- Christine Sijuwade, 
  • Have FUNWe all want our little buggers to excel and be the very best that they can possibly be. There’s no shortage of “how to’s “when it comes to molding that cutie into a baby genius. But sometimes it’s nice to just keep things light. Kids really do bring so much fun into our stuffy grown-up lives. They’re literally experiencing every single thing for the first time, so open yourself to the opportunity of seeing the world through their eyes, it’s such a happier place. The greatest gift my daughter has taught me is that there is wonder in the simplest things, so don’t forget to make time to play!- Nikki Miller, Mae B. Films
  • Purposefully do something for yourself daily. When you are healthy emotionally, physically and mentally you’ll get through the first year of motherhood just fine. Prayers and a strong spiritual foundation go a long way in! It’s so important not to lose yourself. Make time to do things you like, work out, get a quick mani pedi, read a book, take a nap. While you want to be around your baby 24/7 and do everything for them you have to take it easy and remember you’re human if not with time you’ll get overwhelmed. So take time for yourself and accept all the help you can. Most importantly putting your little one on a schedule at the appropriate age goes a long way, that way you get to plan your free time and also have a life. Layide Iluobe
  • Automate your life as much as possible—groceries, manicure appointments, diapers, etc. The less you have to think about the mundane, the more time you have to spend with your little one!- Eva Chen, Director of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram (via The Coveteur).
  • Adjust your getting-ready schedule: The first thing that I noticed in the first few weeks of becoming a mother was how all of a sudden, my 30 minute chicken-head bath and make-up routine was no longer going to cut it. I now needed an ENTIRE hour and a half to get myself and the little one all ready to leave the house. I immediately got super stressed out about timing, as I love to be punctual when God permits. (He does not often permit.) What I did was adjust my prep-time before any and all meetings and appointments. I was late ‘because of the baby’ several times before I got into the habit of prepping the night before, and giving myself more time in the morning. I am not a naturally matutinal person, so it was a really big adjustment for me. My advice is to go into your new-found job title of Super Mommy with the understanding that you will need to change your personal timing to accommodate your new little one. No worries, though; you will be up disrespectfully early every day now anyway. (Insert evil laugh.) – Sugar Taylor, Taylor & Hov + Brand Manager of Aisle Perfect.
  • Surviving your first year can be scary because you literally are going off of nothing besides tv, google, and books. One thing I have learned is that you must have mommy time. Of course you are worried about your baby, and always want to be with them at all time, your mommy its your duty right?! Well, actually setting aside time for “me time” is beneficial because you get to regroup. Treat yourself to the spa, a yoga class, step out for ice cream, or even take a walk around the block. Just something to help you regroup, and then carry on with your mommy duties. Believe me that little “me” time will help you be a better mom in the end! We can’t forget about ourselves, and our health is what I had to keep telling myself. I must be healthy physically and mentally for my children and through that first year I learned just that! – Shay Sweeney, Shay Moné.
  • Go with your gut. You will get so much advice from all the parenting books, doctors and family and friends who think they know everything. It will feel so overwhelming at times. At the end of the day, you are this child’s mother and mommy always knows best. I don’t care if this is your first time. Your motherhood instinct kicks in as soon as you become pregnant and will stay with you forever. Listen to that little voice in your heart. Do what you feel is in the best interest of your child and do not feel bad about it. You will make lots of mistakes along the way, but it’s really okay. Don’t beat yourself up. You are not a failure! Motherhood is a special club where the members have so many highs and lows, but the good days always outweigh the bad. Try your best not to stress over the little things like what diapers are best. There will be trial and error periods. Every child is different. Let your gut guide you and all will be well. Everyday my son is happy, breathing and clean is a success for me LOL!- Phyllis Givens, Happily Ever Givens

  •  Establish a bed time routine. SAME.THING.EVERY.NIGHT. my daughter is two and we still do the exact same routine (bath, brush teeth, pjs, we read a book, sing the itsy bitsy spider, say prayers, hugs, kisses, knuckles, lights off, and we blow kisses). Baby’s like routines, they know what to expect and will expect you to do it. Start your routine at least 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. A lot of times this is when your baby is the most calmest so enjoy the time with them. Plus, the bath will help relax them. If they do not need a bath, rub them down with bed time lotion and sing or talk to them calmly. Turn down the lights and only have a lamp or dim lighting. This will help baby establish bedtime from daytime. –  Liz, The Simply Chic Mom
  • Fight to remain on a “high”: Post-partum depression is real, and in different forms. It’s so easy to slip out of the super high of being a mum, of just being happy to have a healthy child with ten fingers and ten toes and become this zombie who shuts everything and everyone out, totally neglects herself and becomes a chief worrier for this “egg” that has become her life. Try not to do that (key word being try because it take superhuman effort sometimes). Embrace this new curve your life has taken and the unwelcome changes that may come with it.  Be filled with love and gratitude because believe it or not, a miracle has occurred. Don’t obsess on things that will pass, like your lack of beauty rest. Lol. It’ll come back. I promise. And your angel baby will grow and be fine. –Ndali Orepitan
  • Separation anxiety isn’t only experienced by the child; mothers go through it as well. I went back to work 4 months after my son was born. I cried for two whole weeks and I was pretty sure I was a terrible mother for leaving my precious child at home for hours every day. I felt like I was missing out on all his milestones – first words, first steps. I would always get a video of phone call from my Grandmother or Nanny sharing the good news; it was horrible.It took me some time to realise that he was the reason why I was working so hard. I would place a photo of him and my husband on my desk to remind me every day that I had a wonderful family to go home to everyday and it was okay to want something for myself. I would come home every day to a huge smile from my baby and it made me feel so much better. “Mom-Guilt” is real and its natural, but remember you are doing what is best for your family. Other people’s opinions should never make you feel like you are less of a mother –remember everyone’s path is different. Lastly, babies don’t hold grudges! They are the most loving, forgiving beings ever. Your baby isn’t going to remember how often you went to work or had to drop him off at Day-care. So while it’s tough for you as a Mom, your baby is perfectly fine.- Kike Ojewale, My Velvet Scrapbook
  •  So… MOTHERHOOD kicked my behind. MOTHERHOOD is nothing like what they told you it would be and then some.. you see, I had twins and another, all at 28. I had 3 kids under 2. I remember thinking I was going to have 4 kids and they would all be like the Von Trapp kids. I would sit and they would surround me and listen to my stories of days gone by. I would call and they would come running and file in a line. Psshhhttt. Try the opposite. My kids throw shade better than I do. Even they say I should have my 4th so I can have another go at getting it right. Lol. They are just like me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, I find myself sounding like my mum, if only u would rap your books as good as you do those silly songs. Lol. There’s no right or wrong way to be a mother. Just give it your best and lower your expectations. Don’t be so hard on yourself. 💙💗💙 – Fran Asemota, The Mustard Seed.

  • So, I nearly lost my baby. Twice. Once, during childbirth and again when she was 3 weeks old. As a new mum, I didn’t know a bunch of things. I didn’t know how to recognize when my baby was eating too fast ( and that it didn’t mean “she just liked food”). I didn’t know the flow of the nipple was too fast for her and so when she choked the first time on her milk, I didn’t realize that her “strange cry” was her gasping for air. I’d been told that milk could come out of the nose every now and then and I should just use an aspirator and stay calm. This is why the second time she started to choke, I didn’t realize what was happening until she stopped breathing and went limp. I also didn’t know the value of the random first aid and emergency response class I had taken until I had to respond when my baby turned grey in my arms. I tell this story, not to frighten you, but to show you how knowledge is literally the difference between survival and loss.So for me, surviving my daughters first year was learning how to deal with the constant fear that I would lose her and seeking professional help for the anxiety that came with it. Realizing there was no shame in the mental trauma that I had suffered. I am writing to the mothers that have had near misses or actually lost. To survive your first year with your new or renewed baby, you need to first accept that you are now safe and everything is okay.Talking to a professional is not a luxury it is a necessity. Do not let fear dominate your life and therefore cause you to use this child as a shield or escape from everything else because everything will suffer, including you. You are alive, you made it, you are here. Love yourself.Love your spouse. Don’t forget each other in the process of loving your baby. Take pictures. Even of the failed attempts. Try to make time for friends and activities you enjoy but never let anyone make you feel guilty for putting your family first. If your friends don’t understand why they haven’t heard from you, don’t feel bad. When you get a chance, do your part but don’t be led into the deep dark valley of guilt. – Ewemade Banjoko ( Yoni’s Mummy!) , Matilda’s Child

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