I’ve been able to stay home with my son since he was born just over three months ago. Despite feeling a bit sleep deprived this has been the most amazing time in my life! What has been most surprising is how much I’ve learned from watching him grow these last three months. Here are five lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1 – When you wake from a long night’s slumber or even a short cat nap reach your arms above your head and point your toes. Don’t be shy about it. Stretch as far as your body will allow. It’s funny that this is such a natural instinct, yet as adults we rush out of bed in the morning and never think to stretch our our limbs. As a new mom you’ll inevitably be woken by the sound of your crying baby. Your first instinct is to jump up and attend to him. Instead try to remind yourself to stretch and breathe for just a minute or two. It’ll help calm you and make you feel much more alert. It only takes a few moments to do this each morning and it’s amazing how much better you’ll feel both physically and mentally after you do it.
2 – Every day is a journey and while you may do the same things day after day you can make them feel fresh and new when you live in the moment. Since my son is so young I find myself pointing out all of the sights, sounds and smells around us. When we go for a walk I notice the little flowers blooming, the smell of wood burning in the neighbor’s fireplace and the sound of the trucks lifting trash cans. I thought I was aware of my surroundings before, but now that I want to point everything out to him I realize just how little I was actually paying attention to before. Take time to recognize your surroundings and enjoy the sights and sounds around you. If you live in a walkable neighborhood take walks with your child. It’s important to get out of the house when your little one is small. It really does revive your spirit and help you reconnect with the world outside of your newborn.
3 – Communication is the key to survival. I can now tell when my little one is hungry or tired or just needs to be changed, but in those first few weeks I had absolutely no idea what he was trying to tell me. Now that he smiles I can tell if he’s truly happy and having fun or if he’d rather be doing something else. I find it funny when relatives tell me he’s tired. Most of the time he falls asleep because they don’t interact with him enough and he gets bored. As a result of being with him day after day I find that I am learning to communicate better with the rest of my family. I’m more in tune to non-verbal communication than ever before and notice the expressions and gestures that often say much more than their words. But as a new mom don’t rely on non-verbal communication to fulfill all your needs. If you need help reach out to your spouse, significant other, family, friends and neighbors. If you are exhausted tell someone you love and ask them to help you watch the baby for a little while. The best mom knows when she can’t do it alone.
4 – You probably don’t need much in life to keep you happy. We have two or three small, colorful, hand-me-down toys that my son plays with every day, but at this stage he is just as content to coo and babble with my husband and I. I read him books everyday, but he is just as happy reading the same book three times as he is if I read him three different books in a row. I also need very little in life. What’s the point of having a closet full of clothes or the latest technical gadgets? I’ve switched my focus to my physical and mental well being. Not every moment of motherhood is easy. Take a little time to meditate or create a gratitude journal. Studies have proven time and time again that grateful people tend to be happier than the rest of the population.
5 – It’s important to treasure the time we have together. I can’t believe that my son is already three months old. Despite the long sleepless nights I feel like that time passed in the blink of an eye. As a first time mom I initially wanted to do everything just right. I wanted him to sleep in his crib, go to bed at 7 o’clock and nap for two hours at a time, but now I realize that he won’t be a baby for very long. Rather than fussing about waking every three or four hours to feed him, I’m happy that I can snuggle him close to me and listen to his breathing change as he falls asleep on my shoulder.