Hindsight is where clarity lives, especially when wandering through life half-awake with a newborn in your arms. When I became a mom, I thought I knew it all. What to do, how to do it, and everything that comes with the perpetual optimism of sleep-deprived new parenthood. Spoiler alert: I did, in fact, not know it all, and now I find there are things I wish I had done differently when my kids were babies.
Reflecting on a time gone by doesn’t have to feel like a bunch of missed opportunities. If anything, reflecting on what you might have done differently can inspire you to start doing things differently now. There is no how-to guide to foolproof parenting. So, take time to bask in the memories and know with each passing day, you’ve grown wiser.
15 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently When My Kids Were Babies
1. I Wish I Had Accepted More Help
From offers to fold the laundry or do the dishes to people who said they’d watch the baby while I took a nap, I wish I had accepted their help. Once you’re a mom, especially in those early days, sometimes you feel like you need to be superwoman. Like you should be able to do it all without missing a beat. And guess what? Accepting help doesn’t make you any less.
2. I Wish I Had Clearer Boundaries
I’ll never forget the first time I nursed my daughter. She was the firstborn grandchild on both sides of the family, and everyone was super excited. They were so excited that they totally disregarded this special moment and came into the room regardless—and stayed.
3. I Wish I Focused More on Myself
My girls were babies before we understood that self-care isn’t selfish. Maybe if I’d taken the time to journal or taken the time to go to therapy, I would have seen the signs of postpartum depression. Because at the end of the day, when a mom is doing well, she can help take better care of her baby.
4. I Wish I Had Captured More Pictures and Videos
Don’t get me wrong; I have roughly 12,000 pictures of my girls sleeping in their cribs. They’re so sweet, so precious, so itty-bitty. But do you know what I don’t have a lot of? Pictures of me with the girls. Videos of us playing together. Don’t wait to lose the baby weight because you don’t think you look good enough in pictures. Trust me; you’ll want them.
5. I Wish I Had Followed My Gut More
Many people try to support you with well-meaning advice when you have a baby. But even though it’s given with the best intentions, sometimes it isn’t the right advice for your situation. As they say, mother knows best.
6. I Wish I Had Been More Present
It’s tempting to check out. Honestly, sometimes it’s easier, especially when you’re sleep-deprived and stressed. I’m not saying that self-care isn’t essential, but it is a balance. Yes, checking out means you block out some stress, but you can also miss moments you’ll never get back.
7. I Wish I Hadn’t Felt So Guilty About Breastfeeding
I knew from the moment I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed. I mean, as a mom, it should be the most natural thing in the world, right? But I didn’t know then that breastfeeding isn’t easy for every mom. I distinctly remember sitting on the floor sobbing as my breast pump kept going on and on without getting even two ounces of milk after almost an hour. Fed is best, and that’s what matters most.
8. I Wish I Had Made Self-Care a Priority
When my daughters were young, self-care was less of an actual thing you did and more of a mythical phenomenon experienced by people who could afford a nanny. Maybe I was looking at self-care all wrong. It doesn’t have to be all spas, remote cabins, and personal training. Anything that brings you joy and gives you time to breathe can be a form of self-care.
9. I Wish I Had Shared How I Felt Instead of Struggling Silently
There were so many times I felt like an awful mom. I worried my baby wasn’t eating, sleeping, or gaining enough weight. Or the times that I felt like a failure because I couldn’t seem to connect with her even though everyone said it would just come naturally.
10. I Wish I Hadn’t Worried About What My Postpartum Body Looked Like
It seems like the most trivial thing now, but I spent too much energy worrying about what my body would look like after my pregnancy. I was obsessed with losing the baby weight instead of resting more.
11. I Wish I Had Held My Babies More
When my girls were little, I could have spent every waking minute holding, cradling, and rocking them. But everyone warned me against holding them too much. After all, I didn’t want them to be clingy. Spoiler alert: I listened to the advice and didn’t hold them as much, but they still cling.
12. I Wish I Had Slept When the Baby Slept
This is one piece of advice I very much wish I had taken. Instead of getting much-needed rest, I tried to clean the house, fold the laundry, and throw in some baking for good measure. But all I accomplished was burning myself out faster, leaving me less patience for things that mattered.
13. I Wish I Had Professional Photos Taken
When my girls were little, I took a million pictures but never had professional photos taken. Every time I see pictures of my friends and family’s little bundles of joy snug in those adorable little wraps, my heart drops a little because my littles will never be that little again.
14. I Wish I Had Relied More on My Support System
Everyone always says you should rely on your support system, but it is something we rarely want to do. Especially when it always feels like you must be supermom and do it all. And it’s not that you can’t, because you can, but because you can do it doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.
15. I Wish I Had Just Soaked It All In
As I said, hindsight is always the clearest. Now that my daughters are older, there are a whole other set of experiences we’re going through for me to treasure. But it doesn’t mean I don’t miss the moments. All those that I thought would last forever when they flew right by.
I don’t know how things may have turned out differently if I’d done these things differently. But what I do know is that it’s worthwhile to share these experiences with new moms-to-be, for the moms who are in the middle of it, and for the moms who are where I am now. You’re not alone in your struggles and doing an incredible job—never forget that.