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I’m never one to shy away from the ‘this mom gig is hard’ conversations. In fact, I think we should have more of them so we don’t feel so alone. I’m not talking about the whole ‘chicken nuggets for dinner every night’ kind of thing, more so actually asking other moms how they are coping and then listening to their responses. And then replying with they need to hear as a mom. Not advice, not telling them how to do things. But something that actually builds them up.
As mothers, we tend to be so incredibly hard on ourselves. Mom guilt is strong, and we feel like every article out there about parenting contradicts each other and sometimes it’s hard to figure out if we are doing the right thing.
Which is exactly why we need our mom tribe. We need other moms to tell us we are doing a good job. We need people to say things to us to build us up and to empower us.
And if you don’t know what to say to a mom to build her up, these are just some of the things you need to hear as a mom.
1 – You’re Doing A Great Job
Regardless of whether she’s been a mom for a day or a decade, every mom needs to hear that they are doing a great job. As mothers, we all just do what we think is best for our kids. Sometimes other’s agree, sometimes they don’t and that’s okay.
But we all make the choices we think are best for our kids. And then we agonise over those choices and forever wonder if we did the right thing.
Tell a mom she is doing a great job, she always needs to hear it.
2 – You’re Not Alone
I saw a question in a Facebook Group for moms that asked what the most surprising thing about motherhood was for them and so many women said it was the loneliness and isolation. Motherhood loneliness is different from any other kind of loneliness because you’re still surrounded by people, but you feel like you’re not actually part of things.
When we face troubles as moms we tend to feel like we are the only ones who have had these struggles. A scroll through Instagram shows you picture perfect moms who seem to manage everything with ease, but if you look a little closer you can sometimes find the moms who share the real, behind the scenes motherhood moments.
Moms need to know they aren’t alone. That if they’re feeling a certain way, then chances are someone else has felt that way too. There’s always a tribe of mothers ready to support you and to make you feel like you aren’t in it by yourself.
3 – It’s Your Decision
There are so many choices we need to make as mothers. From the moment we find out we are pregnant (how and when to tell people), to giving birth (with Midwife led care, in a hospital, at home), to literally every decision, every day for our children. It is so full on and overwhelming.
Then you add in all the ‘advice’ people give you, the pressure from family and friends, and even the pressure from healthcare professionals, and it can quickly feel like you don’t have a say at all.
But you do. It’s your baby, it’s your child, it’s your choice. We fully support the saying educated, empowered and supported – and that’s exactly how we approach mothers. Supported in the decisions that they made after being educated of all the options and made in an empowered way.
4 – How Can I Support You?
Not to be confused with ‘how can I help’, asking ‘how can I support you’ is a more direct question for the mom. It is about recognising her as a person with needs, not ‘just a mom’ who tends to everyone else’s needs.
Moms often feel overlooked and forgotten (but don’t grocery shop for a week and see how many people notice you then!!). So it’s important for moms to hear that they matter too, and that there are people in her network that are willing to support her.
5 – It’s Okay To Be ‘Selfish’
Somewhere along the line ‘selfish’ became a bad word and it was something that women were ashamed to be. But, being selfish is important! Being selfish means you’re making sure your needs are being met so you can meet the needs of others around you.
You can’t pour from an empty cup and it’s important that you do things that revitalise you and fill your cup. Selfish is not a bad thing, selfish is looking after yourself, selfish is filling your cup, selfish is saying that you matter too.
So if you’re feeling bad for being selfish, I’m telling you, it’s okay! It’s okay to be selfish. Actually, I insist on it.
6 – Being A Mom Is So Hard
There are days when you don’t want people to fix your problems, you don’t want people to offer you solutions and you don’t want people to tell you that you should be grateful. You just want someone to say ‘you know what, this mom shit is hard’. Because it is. Oh my gosh, it is so hard.
So please, if a Mama is complaining to you about something, if she is confiding in you about a struggle or an issue she is having, put your hand on her shoulder or give her a hug and just say ‘being a mom is so hard’.
7 – You Are Still You
Remember how I said moms tend to be forgotten and people overlook them as an individual who also has needs? It’s so true. But here’s the thing. You were a perfectly functioning individual before you had kids, and you are still a perfectly functioning individual now, you’ve just added another layer to who ‘you’ are.
You are still a person, you aren’t just ‘mom’ or just ‘Harry’s mom’ or ‘Steve’s wife’. You are you, a perfectly imperfect amazing version of you.
8 – Babies Aren’t Meant To Sleep Through
Oh my gosh, this is exactly what I needed to hear so, so badly when my son was a baby. Please, please stop asking mom’s if their babies are sleeping through the night yet. They aren’t meant to. In fact, this awakening skill is a babies defence against SIDS, as well as many other normal biological reasons.
Seriously though, I am in my thirties and I still can’t sleep through the night without waking, and often I need to cuddle my husband to get back to sleep, or it takes me a moment to settle again, so why should we expect more from babies?
As soon as I realised babies aren’t meant to sleep through the night, my stress about my baby and sleep just dissolved. We rolled with what came and before I knew it he was sleeping on his own, asking to go to bed and I was laying there wishing I could cuddle him and rock him back to sleep again.
9 – You Cannot Spoil A Baby
“You’re making a rod for your own back.” Whenever I hear that I honestly have to take a deep breath and count to 10. Mama, you cannot spoil a baby. You cannot hug them too much, cuddle them too much, carry them too much, love them too much. They need it. You need it. It’s biological.
The first few months after your baby is born is called the fourth trimester and it is such an important time for a mother and a baby. Even as they grow out of this stage, you still cannot spoil a baby. They aren’t capable of manipulating you (they can barely even recognise their own hand let alone create complex sequences in their minds such as behaviour and reward).
You do what you need to do to get through. If you feed your baby to sleep, rock your baby to sleep or have your baby bedshare with you, you cannot spoil them. You are loving them, and that’s exactly what they need.
10 – Who Cares What Other People Think
This is probably one of the most important of all… at the end of the day, who cares what other people think. If you are happy, your husband is happy and your baby is happy, then that’s all that matters. Other people can go and get miffed, this isn’t their story!
I used to worry about being judged for breastfeeding in public, and then I worried about being judged when I gave my baby a bottle of breastmilk in public, and then I stopped caring what other people thought and just fed my baby. It was much better that way.
All moms need support from time to time, whether it’s support as in you help them with something they need, or support from you offering encouraging words that you need to hear as a mom, we all need it and it always helps.