Six Age-Old Pieces of Advice We Need to Stop Giving New Moms

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Who was the first person you told you were pregnant? Did they react with excitement and tears? Or did they instantly offer you their “expert” advice, unsolicited? 

Friends and family can be our greatest resource when preparing to meet our bundle of joy, but our new mommy generation is learning that not all advice is created equal. Decades of motherhood has shaped staple phrases, passed down from mom to mom, but today’s “new mom” needs something more– your empathy

Here are six age-old pieces of advice we need to stop saying to new parents (and what to say instead!):

#1: “Enjoy your sleep now!”

This is not breaking news, nor is it helpful. All new moms start out thinking their child will be the unicorn baby who sleeps through the night. Plus, for many women, sleeping while pregnant is already a difficult feat. Remember this is a stressful time; new parents have so much on their minds! 

And dads are nervous, too; they feel the pressures of providing for a family, as well as work-life balance. He doesn’t need your horror stories of falling asleep while warming up milk at 3 a.m.

A better way: “Sleep deprivation won’t last forever! It might be a different kind of sleep, but you will eventually sleep again.” 

#2: “You can forget about romance!”

Marriages ebb and flow whether you have children or not. Becoming a parent is an exciting but scary time for couples. Telling them their marriage will probably fall apart in the process is not constructive advice, and it’s just plain negative. 

A better way: Explain to parents-to-be how amazing it is to share a child with your partner; it’s a completely unique experience that bonds you in a whole new way. Offer a time when your marriage hit a rut and how you overcame it. Tell them about ways you found time for your relationship with and without children. Be honest about how children changed your marriage, but be positive; tell them how it evolved as your children grew. Give couples ideas about how to keep the spark alive. 

#3: “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Veteran moms like to offer this advice in those “everybody goes through it” situations. They think they are being supportive by not sugar coating the scenario.

When my son started showing signs of separation anxiety around seven months, I heard this phrase a lot. It made me feel like I was in a row boat, alone, with no oars in sight. 

A better way: What I would have appreciated was someone telling me how they handled it. What did they do to make their child feel better? I didn’t know if sneaking away was right or if it was better to distract him with a toy. That’s the advice I needed. If nothing else, I needed someone to say to me, “I remember that stage. It’s so hard, Mom. Don’t worry though: we all went through it, and our kids are fine. You’re doing a great job.” 

#4: “Don’t even think about fitting into your old jeans again!”

Society puts a lot of pressure on us to “bounce back” after pregnancy regardless of if we can or even want to. This age-old advice is people’s way of trying to alleviate that pressure. Everyone handles pregnancy differently, and every pregnancy changes your body in a different way. The bottom line: a new mom’s body is not a topic for discussion. 

For me, it was a goal to get back to my original size. I knew that might not happen, but by just giving away my clothes, that was me saying, “You can’t do it.” For some women, this idea is entirely freeing; if the clothes aren’t there, then there is no pressure staring at you from that box in the closet. 

A better way: Instead of worrying about a mom’s new jean size, worry about her mental, emotional, and physical health. Offer to bring the family a healthy, home-cooked meal. Babysit for a few hours, so she can hit the gym, spa, or just sleep!

#5: “Enjoy it while it lasts. The days are long, but the years are short.”

Experienced moms who give this age-old advice have forgotten how long a long day actually is!

Nothing is sweeter than cuddling with your precious babe; these days are the best, but they are not the best every day. Some days you wish your child were different, better, or easier. You think if only they were only older, calmer, or slept better, then things would go smoother. Being told to “enjoy it while it lasts” leaves you with immeasurable guilt in these moments. 

The days that are long can feel never-ending, and that can be overwhelming to someone new at this job. 

A better way: Tell moms it’s OK to not enjoy every single waking moment. Remind mommas that we’ve all felt that way more than once. Let them know that wanting a break is natural and feeling guilty is normal, too. 

#6: “Sleep when baby sleeps.” 

This most famous age-old advice is the ultimate unrealistic expectation for stressed new moms.

Newborns bring more than just joy and dirty diapers. They bring extra laundry, visitors, bottles, and pacifiers to sterilize. New moms should be focused on recovery, but in reality, they see everything else piling up around them. While we’re supposed to take care of ourselves and our babies, we’re programmed to take care of it all! 

A better way: Instead, offer mom this advice: “Take a moment for you while they sleep, if you can.”   

Reading a book, scrolling through Instagram, or baking cookies is recharging, too! Sleeping is best, but many moms don’t nap well and neither do some babies. Make a cup of tea and just stare at your little miracle or watch an episode of Real Housewives

Tell moms “Rest when you can,” “Find time for yourself,” and “Ask for help when you need it!”

Let’s start a new normal! 

Let’s start a new wave of motherhood, one that is supportive, encouraging, and present. The next time you hear someone is expecting, be the person they can rely on! Rather than giving empty statements, let’s give a shoulder to lean on (or cry on…because, let’s be honest, it happens!). Let’s be the mommy generation who makes it a little easier for the next one! Are you with me?

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Sofia is a New Yorker living in Troy, dancing in the living room, and waiting for the next appropriate opportunity to eat cake. She's a proud wife, and mom to a giggly, little boy and two loving feline furbabies. Rather than being the life of the party, Sofia likes to believe life IS the party! She owns and operates Curated Events Detroit, a corporate event planner specializing in growing small businesses in the Metro-Detroit area! When not chasing after her super determined child, Sofia enjoys drinking wine with friends, laughing, and watching movies with her husband. She loves experiencing new things and traveling, and is looking forward to introducing her son to all her favorites places. Her passion in life is animal rights, in her free time she supports rescue organizations, local and worldwide, and continues to work on her vegan cuisine skills!

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