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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. Nikki Ake via FB says:

    Trust your instincts. Mommy usually knows best.

  2. RELAX–they are just kids having fun. I was a fun and loving (but pretty strict and uptight) nanny before having my own. I have a lot of regret about the way I raised my nanny kids.

  3. Libby Kreusel via FB says:

    I’d tell her “Shut up. You know nothing.” and I’d fight the urge to slap her silly. I admit I was very arrogant and judgemental. I knew everything about parenting until I birthed my first child and then I discovered how little I actually knew.

  4. Kindra Pigott Franzen via FB says:

    Your body is gonna do weird things and that’s OKAY!

  5. Sheri Chan via FB says:

    Relax, it will be ok.

  6. Sasha Grigsby via FB says:

    I have often thought about what I’d tell myself. I have a whole list. I wish I knew then what I know now. I was young and clueless.

  7. Caryn Fera McKay via FB says:

    You aren’t fat! Appreciate your figure now because even when you lose the baby weight, some things are never the same.

  8. Libby, I wanna like your comment a million times!!! I didn’t even know it was u until I came to tag ur name!!!

  9. Chris Poindexter via FB says:

    Try not to eat their leftovers or you’ll be fighting those extra few pounds for the next 18 years.

  10. Chris Poindexter via FB says:

    Oh and feed the toddler with the kitchen door closed and clean up anything she drops on the floor. Chihuahuas get fat easily and the un-fatting food costs forty bucks a bag.

  11. DanAmanda Zambrano via FB says:

    I wish I could tell myself to appreciate the difficult moments as much as the easy ones. Parenting and pregnancy is made up of both, and you miss out on so much if you wish away the bad times.

  12. Rachael Amen via FB says:

    You’ll want more kids!

  13. Linda Plue via FB says:

    And just because your first child is a stepchild doesn’t mean you have to be an absolutely perfect mother either. :) I really struggled with that when I was young.

  14. Saku Zuckerberg via FB says:

    The kid’s coming early. Clean the house and get lots of sleep!

  15. Kimberly Culver via FB says:

    Develop habits of discipline now! Travel more and don’t be such a workaholic. It is easier and cheaper to travel pre-kids.

  16. Emily Green via FB says:

    Its ok not to have a clean house all the time! Give yourself a break. Don’t care about how your parenting might look to others.

  17. Alexia Johnstone via FB says:

    Pants are overrated.

  18. Melanie Holmes via FB says:

    Travel. The experiences of traveling with just your spouse will be completely different than with kids.

  19. Ana Femat-Pereda via FB says:

    Pamper yourself!!!, and enjoy every moment that you are alone

  20. Carol Tillyer via FB says:

    Take advantage of doing all the things that are cheaper and easier to do without kids like travel, etc before settling down and raising a family.

  21. Four boys later, no one could have prepared me for the crazy amount if spills that happen daily in our house!!

  22. Enjoy time to yourself… Even having a shower and going to the toilet

  23. Joan Bishop via FB says:

    Don’t be so hard on the first one just because she’s the practice one.

  24. Rebekkah Smith via FB says:

    You are thinner than you realize! Enjoy your prebaby bod! And, quit eating like CRAP! Everything you eat will become a cell of a whole new person. Hot Pockets aren’t food!

    Oh, and I know how your were totally judging that mom with the crazy kid! Just wait. Yours will be crazy times a billion!

  25. Kristi S. says:

    Your kid is like no one else, just because they don’t follow the baby books to the letter does not necessarily mean anything is wrong with them, or you!

  26. Erika Loftin via FB says:

    Enjoy every changing second with your child.

    Make sure you take moments for yourself.

    Stop feeling guilty.

  27. 1. Fix your health issues BEFORE you get pregnant. 2. Put down your phone/computer because your baby is only a baby for a very short time!

  28. Bethany Burke via FB says:

    Amanda Catherine Emery – I thought this was a cute article, that you would enjoy reading. :-)

  29. Leslie Nay via FB says:

    If someone resembling an older you shows up and tries to tell you anything about your future as a Mom do not listen to her or the experience of learning will be ruined for you. Unless she congratulates you for being a reader who began collecting children’s books while you were single there is nothing for her to tell you. You have to live the life to get the most from the life you live.

  30. Kari says:

    Never ever complain about being bored!

  31. Vinnyandmegan Disanza via FB says:

    You WILL eventually become and mother and it will be better than you even imagined.

  32. Michelle says:

    1. Don’t even think about going back to teaching full time. Once you hold that baby in your arms, you will fall deeply and incredibly in love with her. You will be a stay at home mom from this moment forward.
    2. You WILL love the second child just as much as the first. Amazingly, love for your kids is unlimited and goes on for infinity.

  33. Enjoy every moment and breathe it in, they are little for such a short time.

  34. Deborah Sacco via FB says:

    Not everyone is your friend.

  35. Niki Araway-White via FB says:

    You can lose the 80 pounds you gained but your skin will never recover. Good news is your husband thinks you get sexier every day…saggy skin and all.

  36. Angela Guerreiro via FB says:

    Sarah Sturgis -surely you have tips!

  37. Anteginni says:

    Get things in order around the house because you will not have time to once your second child arrives, and you really do not need all of that stuff!! Get rid of it while you still can!

  38. Marsena Beck via FB says:

    First if all, I’d tell myself to trust my instincts. But also to homebirth from the beginning

  39. Grace McNally via FB says:

    I would have told myself to relax. Crying is normal. For baby and mommy. And don’t rush the early days just because you are tired.

  40. YES to #8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  41. Nermeen Elsayed via FB says:

    Stop trying to lose weight because you will gain it all back.

  42. Lucy says:

    I love your instructions on apologizing! I know I often don’t do it right (and neither does my husband). It’s not an apology when you are still justifying your actions.

  43. Hollye Fain Long via FB says:

    Excellent list. Very edifying. And… Number 7

  44. Carrie M. Radabaugh Morse via FB says:

    I would tell myself to save more money and take as much time off work as possible the first year or as long as you can. You will not regret it.

  45. You will not sleep like you used to so…. get all the sleep you can now. Lol:)

  46. Tiffany says:

    Do NOT get carpet.

  47. Topping up with formula is not a crime. Do not feel guilty that they’ve taken him away so you can rest.

  48. Amber Grasser via FB says:

    It’s gonna get messy

  49. Diana says:

    #5 = sob. Just clicked through to read the post you linked and ended up crying. A lot. I’m in hardly any photos with my little man. I take loads of photos of my husband and he doesn’t do the same for me. That’s about to change! I did take a selfie today with him – so at least I have that to help stop the tears :)

  50. Kia Hendrix Countess via FB says:

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

  51. 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!!!

  52. MattandJenn Woodriff via FB says:

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

  53. Kelly McCall Brown via FB says:

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

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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 :)

  57. Sarah says:

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

  58. Jan Gordon says:

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

  59. 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!

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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!

  63. Vanessa says:

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

  64. 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!

  65. Kiki says:

    You guys look great with mustaches! Great post!

  66. Yanic A. says:

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

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