The Newborn + Mommy Formula for Happiness

I'm not going to lie... it has been long enough since Jack was born that I am starting to feel the baby hunger again! When I mentioned it to my husband the other day, his reply was, "Yeah, but don't you remember how HARD it was to take care of a newborn?!" I couldn't help but laugh. Looking back, those first six weeks were probably some of the hardest days of my life, but they were also some of the most magical, fulfilling, spiritual ones as well. Although newborns can be scary and exhausting, there are a few things you can do to make sure that both mom + baby are as happy as can be!
1. Sleep when your baby sleeps. I know this is such a widely given piece of advice, but that is because it is so crucial to everyone's happiness. When I am overly tired, I turn into a ridiculously grumpy, emotional mess of a person and take everyone down with me! If you are well rested, not only will you be happier, but you will be more attentive and patient, which will in turn make you a better mom. Plus, there is NO better bonding time than cuddling with a sleepy baby, am I right?

2. Let daddy have a turn. I remember not wanting to let Jack out of my sight those first few weeks after he was born because he was so much a part of me and I didn't want anything to happen to him. However, letting go of my fear and letting my husband take Jack by himself has been one of the best things I could have done for our relationship with Jack. Just because you are a mom doesn't mean you don't need alone time! Pass junior over to daddy for some one-on-one time every day while you take a bath, read a book, or do whatever it takes to make you feel like yourself again. Daddy and baby will get to work on developing their special bond and you will get enough personal time to keep you feeling like a human, not just a giant milk bag.

3. Quit comparing. This is one of the first pieces of advice I received after having my baby, and remembering that "comparison is the thief of joy" is still the only thing that gets me through some days. Being a new parent is HARD, especially in today's "social media" based society, where it is so easy to start comparing yourself to others who post glimpses of their lives for the world to see. So-and-so's baby is a week younger than yours but is already sleeping through the night when your baby still wakes up every three hours.  Your friend's uncle's sister had a baby and lost the baby weight (plus some!) a week later. The truth is that everyone is going to be having a different experience and comparing you and your baby to others is just going to bring you down. You will be much happier and more focused as a parent if you pay less attention to others' lives and just live your own.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I will be the first to admit I have a hard time accepting help, let alone asking for it, but I would have never survived the first six weeks without help. I was lucky enough to be blessed with a mom who made me freezer meals and helped me clean the house before baby came, as well as neighbors who brought over food and kept me company on the long days while my husband was working and going to school, but if you find yourself at home with the baby and no one to help... swallow your pride and ask! It takes a village! Not only is it so important to have neighbors, friends and family to help with babysitting, cooking, and cleaning while you focus on taking care of your new little one, but having a professional who really knows what they are talking about to help you through some of the more difficult ins & outs of parenthood can ease a lot of the stress that being a new mom can sometimes bring! The most miserable time for me when Jack was a newborn was figuring out breastfeeding. I suffered for six weeks before finally getting help and one of my biggest regrets is waiting so long and wasting all the precious time I could have spent enjoying those moments with my baby instead of crying in pain and hating every second. Don't be like me! If you have any questions or are struggling, you can schedule a free appointment through Gerber with a certified baby sleep consultant, nutritionist, or lactation consultant who will walk you through it so you can focus on keeping yourself and your little one happy.

Obviously, I am not a baby expert seeing as I only have one kid, but hopefully you learned something that can help you get through the potentially rough, yet beautiful time that is the newborn stage! I'm sure I didn't even crack the surface on all the ways to keep mom + baby happy and healthy and if I can ever convince my husband, I'm going to need newborn advice sometime in the next couple years! So, tell me... what is your formula for happiness in the days with a newborn? 

Making Happy

The other day in one of my classes, the professor wrote the following on the board and asked us to pick which one is most true:

"My self esteem is based off what I think of myself."

"My self esteem is based off what others think of me."

"My self esteem is based off what I think others think of me."

I didn't even need to think about it for a second. The first one was 100% right. Of course I am the only one whose opinion of me matters! However, not long after I found an app I downloaded  that I had forgotten about... the kind of app that tells you who has unfollowed you on Instagram. Like an idiot, instead of deleting the app, I decided that this is information I wanted to know and was shocked to discover I had SIXTY unfollowers! Most of them were spam accounts or people I didn't know, but there were also a couple people who I had considered to be close friends. Ouch! It stung a lot more than I would like to admit. 

My mind was drawn back to those three statements on the white board at school and I realized, "My self esteem is based off what I think others think of me." WOW. This new discovery blew my mind! I am a social media addict and knew something had to change. So... I deleted Facebook and it was the best thing I could have done. Living without it, I now realize what an endless time waster that it was for the last 7 years of my life! I am 80% less addicted to my phone, I can be more present in my day-to-day mom life, and I don't feel unnaturally angry at the world because of political posts and stupid YouTube videos I don't want to watch. With the exception of a couple times trying to find a babysitter or ask a parenting question, I haven't even missed that little corner of the Internet and it is SO LIBERATING!

Getting rid of Facebook gave me a little more balance in my life, but that wasn't the only social media I was addicted to. I started blogging and joined Instagram for the same reason: to give my memories a tangible home. I just think somewhere along the way I got the lines blurred and I began posting what I thought people wanted me to post. Honestly, I am like pretty much every other human being. I WANT PEOPLE TO LIKE ME. When I post on Instagram, I want people to like it. When I write a blog post, duh! I want comments! Over time, it has gotten harder and harder for me to distinguish between what is really me and what is the part I think people want to see.

A while back, I started the #ShareTheRealMovement on Instagram in an attempt to try and get back to the real life moments on social media, but let's be honest.. even pictures of these "real" moments aren't as real and raw as life really is. Why would we want people we are trying to get to like us to see us at our most vulnerable? To read our deepest thoughts, our pains, our fears? I have been caught up in the idea of having a perfect life like I see posted about every day, but it turns out that I forgot there is a big difference between someone liking a picture and liking me. Just because someone unfollows me on Instagram doesn't mean I am an unlikeable person. If I blog and no one comments, I am still a great mom, friend, and wife. Although I ultimately can't help but care about what I think others think of me, strangers on the Internet don't get to determine my happiness. My happiness is independent of my number of Instagram followers or pageviews. I am taking my self esteem back from social media and remembering to love myself for who I am, regardless of the "likes" and I will gladly invite anyone who disagrees with me to "unfollow." (aaaaaand if you made it through all that rambling, you deserve brownies.)