It’s an imperfect journey. It’s ok if you’re just surviving… or if you threw the baby books in the fire.
If you’re a mother, by now you’ve heard piles upon piles of bullsh*t advice for motherhood.
I’m talking about those unsolicited tips that usually make next to no sense and only serve to confuse or anger you. And more often than not, they just contribute to anxiety and worsen your mental health during a time that’s already hard enough.
You know the advice I’m talking about. Usually it comes from some well-intentioned (but annoying) source. You never asked but they feel the need to chime in with their two cents anyways. What comes to mind right now?
Here some bullshi*t advice for motherhood I hear all the time:
“Sleep when the baby sleeps!”
“Enjoy these moments while they last!” (Eye roll!)
“Motherhood is natural, you’ll just know what to do.”
“Breast is best!”
“You’re not sleep training!?”
“Be grateful!” (Thanks for making me feel worse, right?)
“Don’t feed your baby x,y,z.”
“You should put your kid in daycare.”
“You should stay home with your kids until they’re older.”
“You really shouldn’t be on those medications if you’re breastfeeding!”
“I lost my baby weight by… You should try x.” (A hard no to weight loss advice and bounce back culture am I right!?)
“I don’t agree with your birth plan. X would be a better idea.” (As if anyone should tell you how to give birth…)
“Oh you want a baby? The best way/time to get pregnant is…”
“Don’t take your kids to adult restaurants. Just leave them at home or go somewhere family friendly.”
“You can’t travel with a baby or young kids.” (You totally can!)
How many of these have you heard? Maybe you even heard several of these this week.
When you’re a new mother, becoming a mother, or trying to conceive, you seem to get unsolicited bullsh*t advice for motherhood from everyyyyyyone! Your mom, your mother in law, your friends, your friends’ friends, you well-intentioned aunt…
It’s exhausting. And it doesn’t help.
Advice like this is often out of date, conflicting, doesn’t align with your values, or it’s just straight up confusing. It makes you doubt yourself, question your decisions, or it can bring on decision fatigue. And we wonder why anxiety and low self-worth in motherhood is common!?
You know what does help? Actual, solid no bullsh*t advice. I asked my Instagram community for some input here, and received literally hundreds of entries about what advice would have truly been helpful. Here’s what moms wish they could have heard much sooner:
No bullsh*it advice for motherhood that *actually* makes sense:
1. Unfollow social media accounts that aren’t serving you
You get to curate your experience online. So many accounts can make you feel like sh*it about your style of parenting, your body, your lifestyle, or your relationship. If it does, hit that unfollow button!
2. Google less
Stop consulting Google for every little thing. Just trust in yourself and your ability to learn hands on. Excessive googling just feeds into anxiety and enables you to ruminate or get stuck in a OCD loop. Sure, research a little as needed, but try not to get caught into the endless loop.
3. Get comfortable asking for help
For some reason, our culture idolizes the “Mom who does it all.” Think about why that is and who benefits from that. Who benefits from mothers hustling at all costs without a peep? (Your boss? Your company? Your partner?) When that becomes the standard, that puts the bulk of responsibility on women rather than addressing elements of a system that is inherently flawed. You need help. Just ask.
4. Just do what’s right for your family
Motherhood isn’t one-size-fits-all. We’re all different and we’re all raising different human beings. Our differences are part of what makes us awesome! Consider that next time you compare yourself to whatever the next family is doing. What works for them might not work for you. Maybe the summer programs don’t matter so much to you because you spend your days hiking or hanging out at the beach together. Maybe you keep your kids’ bedtimes strict because you *know* how grumpy they’ll get otherwise.
5. Take the medication if/when you need it
There’s a whole list of approved medications for pregnancy and for breastfeeding. Did you know that? Did you also know that if you need medication for mental health purposes, that’s ok? Sometimes the risk of not taking medication (untreated mental health issues) is greater than any risk of taking the meds.
6. You don’t have to sleep train
Unlike what social media and marketing will lead you to believe, it’s not the norm to sleep train, and you certainly don’t have to. Check in with your values (and get clear on what those are). If it doesn’t feel right, let it go. There are many ways to manage sleep, including your own anxiety about baby’s sleep, that don’t put pressure on your child.
7. Go to therapy even before you really need it
Sometimes we don’t even know when we need support and it can always be a good idea to be proactive and get that professional, unbiased opinion before things get to an unmanageable level. Your future self may thank you.
8. The internet doesn’t know your baby better than you do
Instagram, parenting websites, blogs and Pinterest aren’t in your home and they’ve never met you or your child. You get to call the shots! You are the expert in your own family.
9. Becoming a mom is a freaking hard transition. It’s ok if you’re just surviving
Seriously read this one again if you must! When you become a mom, literally everything changes: your lifestyle, your routine, your identity, your body, your relationship, your sleep schedule and circadian rhythm, your nutrition (if breastfeeding), your house… everything. Why would would that be easy? Society makes a bigger deal out of physically moving house or changing careers. THIS right here, you becoming a parent, is a HUGE deal.
10. If it feels wrong, trust your gut
If it feels wrong to you, that’s a sign that it doesn’t align with your values. You always have the authority to do what’s best for your family and your needs.
11. Don’t bother reading all the baby sleep books
A lot of them would be better off in the recycling. Or burnt in a campfire.
12. Find lactation support ASAP
Gosh! How many of us read the books, prep the nursery, take the birth classes and do ALL THE THINGS only to actually have the baby and find out that breastfeeding is really hard? I recommend checking in with a lactation consultant early on because you’ll probably need her.
13. It’s ok to cuddle, rock or nurse your baby to sleep
The “experts” or baby books may tell you otherwise but you do you. If your baby is communicating with you and needs your attention and care, do it! This piece of advice that tells you otherwise can seem so counterintuitive.
14. Nobody knows what they’re doing even if they look like the do
Every mom has her moments of winging it, flying by the seat of her pants, or trial-and-error. (Sometimes that looks like mostly error.) The good news is that you’re trying your best. The better news is that a lot of this will make for some funny stories when they grow up.
15. Don’t take anyone’s sh*it! You know what’s best
You don’t have to spend time in the mom group that makes you feel like shit. You can distance yourself from people who are unkind. And if someone puts you down, offers unsolicited advice, or disrespects the way you parent, you can respectfully set a boundary there.
16. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and that’s fine
Some people breastfeed, some don’t. It’s all ok! Maybe you’re unable to breastfeed and choose to feed your infant formula. Maybe you can breastfeed but don’t want to. Maybe you only breastfeed. Maybe a combination of the two works best. You get to make that decision and there’s no right or wrong.
17. Stop stressing about night wakings. It’ll end eventually
Nothing is permanent. Not even these hell nights. This too will end. Remember that.
18. Start being more “selfish”
You’re working so hard and you’ve made enough sacrifices already. By now, you’ve gone through birth, carried a child through your pregnancy, adjusted, learned, been physically depended on, and made plenty of tough decisions. Seriously, go out with your girlfriends, book the family vacation you want, order the takeout you’ve been craving, or skip that family event you know is going to leave you feeling drained. You’re worthy of your own consideration.
19. Stop disappointing yourself in order to please others
Ughhh the self-sacrificing mom narrative needs to just die already. If you’re always coming last, often disappointed or not really doing what you want to do, then something has to change.
20. Your life isn’t supposed to look like hers
So simple and so true. We all compare—that’s human nature. Next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to her (whoever she is), remind yourself that your life isn’t supposed to look like hers. Your life is supposed to look like yours.
21. When your baby gets older, nobody is going to care what, how, or when they ate
Breast milk, formula, both, baby food, homemade food you blend yourself… This is honestly such a minor detail in the context of their overall life and therefore not worth the major stress you may be feeling.
22. Refuse to enter “best baby” contests
You know how people talk about who’s a “good baby”, “great eater” “terrible toddler”? What’s even the point of these comments? These are so harmful and quite honestly, unnecessary. See if you can just opt out and avoid labeling yourself or your baby as good or bad. You’re all learning.
23. Your baby will sleep eventually. Try to remember that
In the moment it can totally feel like holding a crying baby is just your life now. Don’t worry… she has to fall asleep eventually. And I know that doesn’t help get rid of the pain in that exact moment but sometimes reminding yourself of this can bring some perspective that helps you feel less hopeless. There are no 12 year olds that are still waking up needing to be bounced back to sleep. It will end.
24. Motherhood is an imperfect journey. Mistakes happen
You’re going to miss a cue every once in a while, you’re going to buy the wrong size diapers, you’re going to drop the ball on the school project. You’re going to lose your temper here and there. You’re going to completely drop the ball from time to time. Because you’re a human being, and that’s what we do. Is there anybody in your life who you love because they’re perfect? Probably not. Cut yourself the same slack.
25. Your relationship might take a hit for a while. It’s normal even if others haven’t let on
There’s a lot about motherhood that just puts a huge strain on your relationship. (See point #9) Feeling disconnected from your partner—or like you hate their guts altogether—is such a painful experience. And it’s one that most of us keep quiet about because maybe we don’t want to admit it. But just remember: other people’s seemingly perfect relationships might not feel that way at all. You have no way of knowing what’s actually going on there and likely they also are worrying about the same things you are.
26. People forget very quickly what it’s like to have a new baby
Your good friend may have had a baby just a few short years ago but now it seems like she doesn’t remember this sleepless, chaotic time where you’re in pain from breastfeeding and you have no idea what day it is. For some reason people just… forget. Can you let them off the hook, and focus on giving yourself the validation and compassion you need instead?
27. You don’t have to cherish every single moment
You’re going to hate some moments and that’s ok. It’s also ok to admit that you’re not enjoying a particular day or even an entire chapter of motherhood. You don’t have to be super into the baby years. You don’t have to pretend that sleepless nights and constant diaper changes are awesome. You don’t have to feel guilty about admitting that your two-year-old absolutely annoys the heck out of you when she throws her sixth temper tantrum of the day. Some moments just suck. Don’t take on guilt on top of that.
Alright, that brings us to the end of my no-BS list of advice.
I am so grateful to have heard from so many moms in my Instagram community who shared their ideas of advice that truly was helpful. If you want to join the conversation and see some more ideas, scroll this Instagram post – you’ll leave with such a fresh perspective and feeling very much not alone.