If you asked me a couple of years ago whether I’d be starting the year 2020 as a mom, I would have laughed in your face. My biggest excuse was always, “I’m not ready; I have so much more to learn and accomplish before having kids.”
Here we are… with a 1-year-old boy who is currently transitioning his way into daycare as mama prepares to head back to work. I still remember three months into motherhood; the days were long, dark, and exhausting; and all I dreamt of was putting Zak in daycare so I could “get my old life back.”
Well, I’m glad I decided to stick it out for another 9 months because the first year of motherhood, 12 months of maternity leave, taught me a lot about myself and what I am capable of.
Here are four lessons I’ve learned as a first-time mama.
Maternal instinct is real
Back in the summer, Zak started playing around with his posture and exercising how flexible he was. Of course, him being my first child, I found some of the behaviour kind of odd! One day I decided to film all the little movements to show them to his doctor. I knew it wasn’t anything to be concerned about, but wanted clarity that he wasn’t uncomfortable or if this needed to be escalated.
The doctor assured us that every child may not do this, but it looks like these are signs Zak is ready to begin moving. We got a few toys and gadgets to help him meet this next *huge* milestone, and she was right… Zak was crawling a couple of weeks later (at 7 months)!
This is just one small example, but I always wondered how I’d know if he is ready to move, ready to eat, ready to sleep on his own, and eventually, ready to potty train. I’ve learned to be patient, trust the process, and help him get there when he’s ready.
You’re picking up new skills constantly
Prior to being a mom, I really didn’t know how to cook. I thought making a salad or sandwich that actually tasted good was a big deal. I’ve always been a baker, but had no clue what to do with raw chicken… if I was even brave enough to touch it!
Being at home for a year brought along all kinds of new challenges, one being that I wanted to be more helpful and learn a few simple recipes so that James didn’t have to do all the cooking after a long day of work.
It started with me preparing dinner one night a week. I would literally start prepping in the morning and take the day to slowly work through a recipe. My gosh, I was SLOW! The more recipes I tried, the better I got. I began experimenting with flavours + textures, and now find it to be quite relaxing when I’m in the kitchen! James and I take turns cooking, and I love that we can enjoy each other’s meals and not have to order in as often as we used to.
Next thing I’m working on is my snack game! I’m not a big snacker, always been a 3-meals-a-day kind of person, but Zak LOVES to snack and munch all day long. This is a new challenge for me as I’m trying to find new fun, quick & healthy options for him.
Prioritize your relationship with your partner
James and I have always gotten along, even before we started dating. Of course we bicker and fight, like any other couple, but the one thing I’ve always admired is that our marriage is a partnership. We work through every problem/challenge/obstacle together.
We spent the last 11ish years taking care of each other, and once a child comes in the picture that 1:1 attention gets divided. It’s not as easy to just go out on a date or sporadically do things together as a couple… you have to work for it. Plan ahead, make your relationship a priority, and remember to do things for each other. The smallest gestures go a long way!
Build a routine & be adaptable at the same time
This was a big lesson for me in 2019. I’m a complete type A person, and it can be infuriating if things don’t go as planned. I enjoy building a schedule and routine for Zak — feeding, naps, playdates, bedtime. I realized early on that he thrives on this, and it helps because you have an idea of what to expect… EXCEPT for sickness and regressions that are bound to happen. He’s human after all!
I used to get SO frustrated because Zak would do #2 right after I changed him and we were about to head out the door. Instead of panicking about being late, now I try to stay calm, sing a little song, and just deal with it.
With work + daycare in the mix, surely we will have tough mornings and evenings to get through. My goal is to keep this mindset with any obstacle that comes our way, and it’s a big learning that I can apply to my work as well!
I could go on and on about everything I’ve learned and how much it has helped me grow in the past year. However, these are four lessons are something that I will continue to work on as I navigate life as a working mama and wife.