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11 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Pre-Mama Self

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11 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Pre-Mama Self

While we’re still basking in the afterglow

. . . . of Mother’s Day hugs, hand-drawn cards, and picked flowers full of bugs, I thought I would mention a tip or eleven that I’d wish I’d known back before the bathroom became just another place for family meetings. This is not a comprehensive list, but if I could send a letter back in time here are a few things I would tell myself:

1. If you can’t explain it to a 6 year-old, you don’t understand it well enough.

In other words, you have a lot to learn! Consider this the most educational experience of your life.

2. A quiet toddler is a suspicious toddler

Did you enjoy that bathroom break all by yourself? Good, now go fish your credit card out of the almond butter jar. Also, you might want to check your load of whites for a trojan poopy diaper. You’re welcome.

3. Check your babies for tongue and lip ties

Sure, it’s fun to laugh about the time your mom found you and baby zonked in bed with the car running in the driveway. Or the time you washed new clothes with the tags and hangers still on. Or went to the store in your house slippers without realizing it.

But you know what’s better than sleep deprivation stories? SLEEP. Glorious, refreshing sleep. Now, I’m going to let you in on something. Babies who are hungry don’t sleep well. And babies who have nursing issues are often hungry. Read this post and thank me later.


4. Babies are born without knee caps

You don’t actually need to know this, but it’s pretty interesting, huh? Technically, they do have cartilage that will eventually transform into bony knee caps through a process called ossification, but not until they are about 3-5 years old.

5. Getting flashed is a good thing

Not by your two year-old – though that will happen, too – but by a camera. This post by Allison Tate will revolutionize your take on family photos. She starts out with this:

“I avoid photographic evidence of my existence these days. To be honest, I avoid even mirrors. When I see myself in pictures, it makes me wince. I know I am far from alone; I know that many of my friends also avoid the camera.

It seems logical. We’re sporting mama bodies and we’re not as young as we used to be. We don’t always have time to blow dry our hair, apply make-up, perhaps even bathe (ducking). The kids are so much cuter than we are; better to just take their pictures, we think.”

You absolutely want to click through and read how it ends. One of the best posts ever.


6. Learn to apologize

You think you know how, but you don’t. Take a deep breath and repeat after me. “I’m sorry.”

No, you’re not done. “What I said/did was wrong because ______________. In the future I will make an effort to __________. Will you forgive me?”

Congratulations, you have now mastered about 85% of parenting. Because here’s the thing: you are going to make mistakes. Every day. It’s how you come back from those mistakes that matters. Also, this one of the most important skills you can pass on to your kids – it helps build empathy and teaches us to be responsible for our actions.

7. Don’t think about a white bear

Seriously, don’t do it. If you can avoid anything in life, it must be thinking about a white bear.

Are you totally thinking about one right now? I know you are. :) You’re demonstrating the power of ironic process theory. Sometimes the more we try to suppress something the more prevalent it becomes in our thoughts. Mommy guilt works this way, so instead of telling yourself to “stop it” when you catch yourself with those thoughts, try shifting the focus to something that you’re doing well.

Instead of “Man, I really lost my cool when the toddler jammed half a roll of toilet paper into the potty to see what would happen and I practically had to swim to the plunger,” remind yourself of five things you’ve done well that day. They say it takes 5-7 compliments to balance the negative effects of one criticism, so be kind to yourself.

8. Go on more dates with your spouse

And by dates I mean leaving the house without yoga pants on – you will have plenty of time to do that during playdates.

9. Learn to listen

You have no idea how long 17 seconds is until you try this, but it’s worth it.

10. Sleep like it’s a sport

A marathon, to be specific. Get in as much as you can (here’s how).

11. They will never really get how much you love them

. . . but tell them every chance you get anyway.

Quick note: Certain things, like nutrition before/during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, as well as birth choices, vaccines, etc., did not make the list because they’re things I actually did have information on before becoming pregnant. However, they’re super important so they get an honorable mention.

What would you tell your pre-parent self?


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72 Responses to 11 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Pre-Mama Self

  1. Kia Hendrix Countess via FB says:

    Even though your life is incredible, it’s about to get infinitely better!!

  2. Amie Buonafina via FB says:

    Stay in school! Don’t wait till they are old enough to drive you crazy and homeschool at the same time!!!

  3. MattandJenn Woodriff via FB says:

    Trust me… you’re not freaking fat!!!!!

  4. Kelly McCall Brown via FB says:

    So love this post :) Thanks for the misty mid-morning

  5. Jenny says:

    They grow up sooooo very fast and absolutely no one cares that the floor behind and under your washer, dryer and frig is clean!!!! Seriously! And thank you Heather for number 5. I had tears reading it because boy.could I relate. Always think “I really, really, sincerely hope I do NOT look like that in real life.” I will b getting in some pics. I did take a selfie with my 2 year old granddaughter recently and I didn’t delete it liked I thought about doing. Now I think I’ll give her a copy of mawmaw instead. Thank you for finding and sharing that.article.

  6. Kimberley Loucks Winarske via FB says:

    When your dating don’t just ask yourself if he will be a good boyfriend but will he be a great dad. Turns out, he wasn’t either.

  7. Diana says:

    Booked: 1 professional photo shoot with myself and my gorgeous wee man. Thanks for #5 Heather, it’s because of you this is happening :)

  8. Sarah says:

    Take a sick day when you’re sick because once the kids come there is no such thing as a day off.

  9. Jan Gordon says:

    Don’t let others tell you how to raise your children or criticize you for your choices in this area.

  10. Faith says:

    Per your email concerning why you were a little absent… You are wonderful, Heather, & do not let anyone tell you differently :) Give yourself a big hug & tell yourself everyday how many of your readers support you, not to mention, how much your family loves & cares about you! Thank you for all the research you do to share with the world of readers who want to listen, like me :)

    • Faith says:

      Sorry, Heather! I accidentally referenced the wrong email address in my initial comment. I corrected my email address in this comment :) If possible, please change my email address in my first comment. Thanks!

  11. Cynthia says:

    All that baby stuff they sell out there will very shortly be inconvenient garbage. Don’t waste your money or the space in your house. Everthing you buy now, you will have to pick up and put away at leat 80 000 times before you finally get fed up and give it to the Goodwill. Babies really need very few things beyond love, food and diapers.

  12. Kirsten says:

    1. Having your own kids is actually nothing like babysitting for someone else’s.
    2. You think you know how much your parents (and God) love you, but when you have a baby you’ll really find out how limited your current idea of love is.
    3. You are not your mom. That’s ok.
    4. Etc!!!

    Thanks, Heather, you may have just inspired my next post! :)
    Also, I have to add…I LOVE the eyebrows! I did them on my kids last week, but didn’t even think to do myself! Haha! Next time.

  13. Sarah @ Sensibly Sustainable says:

    This is so beautiful, and actually made me tear up a bit, haha! Oh the mommy hormones :) Well put, and all good reminders and tips for new moms. # 5 is a personal weakness, so thanks for the encouragment there!

  14. Vanessa says:

    This was lovely, Heather. One day you can share this with your daughter, too. :)

  15. Sarah D. says:

    Had to laugh at the “quiet toddler” point! So true! Also, #11. I’m starting to realize how much my parents care for me by being a parent myself. I never really comprehended the love of a parent for a child until I became a parent. Oh, and about tongue-tie: Definitely take care of it as soon as you realize (or the dr. realizes) that your child is tongue-tied! 2 of my 3 (soon to be 4) children were tongue-tied and we had it clipped as soon as possible (within a week or two of birth). What a difference that made! I think at least one of them has a lip-tie, too, but not sure what to do about that now. I’m hoping that our newest addition isn’t tongue-tied!

  16. Kiki says:

    You guys look great with mustaches! Great post!

  17. Yanic A. says:

    That the only thing that is constant about children is change!!!!

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