7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Having Kids

7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Having Kids

Today we are talking about some of the things I wish I knew before having kids. This may look different for everyone, but hopefully some of these things will resonate with you if you have kids or will better prepare you before you do.

Read on to find out more!

To start off…

Let me just start by saying, CONGRATULATIONS!

Whether you are pregnant, have recently had a baby or have a few kids already, congratulations on being a parent and for the vital role you play in your kids’ life.

I want to preface this blog by saying that these pieces of advice and stories that I share today are not meant to prevent you from feeling some of these things when you have kids… as if somehow by knowing these things, it will wave a magic wand over them and make them disappear. 

The purpose of this blog is awareness, but more importantly, understanding. As a mom, it feels so good to feel understood and like we aren't alone.

The role of being a mother is incredibly challenging (and rewarding), and sometimes we just need to feel like we aren’t the only ones experiencing what we are experiencing.

So here goes!

Things I wish I knew before I had kids… 

#1 - All of the unsolicited advice I would receive…

When you are pregnant, it seems like the world suddenly has an excuse to give you advice, whether you’ve asked for it or not.

I found that while I was pregnant with my first, I would be grocery shopping and random people would stop me to share anything from how their pregnancy was 30 years ago, to how amazingly well (and unrealistically) their newborn slept at a week old.

Then the baby arrives and the advice continues… along with mom comparisons and more unsolicited advice. 

With my first son, I received (and continue to receive) advice on what he should (or shouldn’t) eat, what activities I should be doing to help him learn more or more quickly, and comments on which areas people thought he was doing well in.

This kind of unsolicited advice can come from siblings, friends, other moms, parents, in-laws, or even strangers.

At the end of the day, we will each respond differently to that advice, but let me go ahead and give you some more of that unsolicited advice about unsolicited advice ;) 

Don’t worry about what others say!

Unless you are actually asking for help or advice, most of the time it’s better to take the advice and stories of others lightly and not feel like any one answer will make or break your decisions with your little one.

You need to trust your mama-instinct and seek out advice from someone like a healthcare professional. *Even in this field, multiple opinions can be very useful!

The stories that others share with us, and the advice they give, often does one of two things…

  1. Either it will terrify you, or 
  2. It will make you feel like you’re doing something wrong.

The third option is that you can learn from it and then move on, without obsessing over fear or comparison. This is by far the best option, but also the hardest to learn how to do.

If you are finding yourself stuck in a rut of feeling afraid or insecure, as if you’re doing something wrong, don’t give up!

It will take some practice, but with time you will figure out how to learn from others’ advice or to let it go, without obsessing over it.

Check out our blog on Positive Thinking and Positive Self-Talk for tips and tricks on becoming a more positive thinker :)

 

Things I wish I knew before I had kids… 

#2 - The mental exhaustion I would experience

The second thing I wish I would have known before become a parent is how mentally exhausted I would be almost 100% of the time!

I think I expected that being a mom would be exhausting… I just didn’t understand some of the mental exhaustion that would come with it.

When I became a mom, I found it surprising how much of my mental energy was used up by thinking or worrying about my kids. 

When they would go down for a nap or to sleep at night, I found myself constantly worrying about their safety.

Whenever anyone else was watching them, I would worry that something bad was going to happen.

I would even have nightmares about all of the terrible things that could happen to my precious little ones! 

Honestly, I feel like there is balance that can be found in this.

It’s okay to be cautious and I think mother-nature has wired us as parents to be extra cautious so we can keep our little ones safe.

BUT, at the same time, I don’t think it’s healthy to be driven crazy with worry. So try to find YOUR balance. And take things one day at a time.

It can be helpful to talk to other parents and recognise that you are not alone, no matter what you are experiencing!

 

Things I wish I knew before I had kids… 

#3 - How I would be ridden with mom-guilt, no matter what I was (or wasn’t) doing

I’m not sure that mom-guilt was something that ever really crossed my mind before having kids.

Perhaps I’d heard the term, but I don’t think you can ever fully understand mom-guilt until you become a mom.

I experience mom-guilt for things that I haven’t even done… even if it’s just a thought.

When I’m having a rough day (or week… or month) and I wish that I could have more time away from my kids… BAM! There’s the mom-guilt.

I feel bad for not wanting to spend all my time with my kids.

But WHY?!

That’s crazy. It’s very reasonable to want breaks from our children and time to spend as the individual we were before having kids. 

What about when I’m unhappy being a full-time SAHM and I want to work... BAM! Mom-guilt!

Once again, WHY? What are my underlying beliefs that make me feel like that?

Wanting to work makes me feel like somehow my priorities are in the wrong place and I shouldn’t feel this way or that feeling like this makes me a bad mom.

Those are LIES!

Just because I want to work, that doesn’t mean I love my kids any less or that I’m a bad mom.

In fact, for me, working is something that gives me life-balance and helps me to be a BETTER mom because I’m happier.

What about when I don’t want to work (at a job) and I want to be a full-time stay-at-home-mom (which is also work, just to clarify!!)… BAM! MOM-GUILT!

Now I feel guilty and believe the lie that I’m not contributing to our finances.

That is a LIE!

By taking care of our precious kiddos, I am making an invaluable contribution to our family.

“Too much” screen time, not enough activities or time spent outdoors, “too much” working, “not enough” working, getting angry at the kids, etc. etc. The list goes on.

These are all things that can cause mom-guilt.

The point? Mom-guilt is something we all experience in our own way. 

I think it will be a constant battle and it’s important that:

  1. We surround ourselves with people who will be loving and supportive of what we need.
  2. We learn to understand the lies behind our mom-guilt.
  3. We improve on our positive thinking and positive self-talk as moms. 

It’s okay to want to be a full-time SAHM.

It’s also okay to want to work full-time at a job and have your kids in childcare. 

It’s okay to do something in between.

It’s okay to feel frustrated.

It’s okay to want some alone time.

It’s okay to miss your kids when they’re away. 

These decisions that we as moms make do not define us and do not define our love for our kids. 

It’s important that we address the underlying reasons for our mom-guilt and deal with those. It’s not healthy for us to become overwhelmed with or defined by our mom-guilt!


Things I wish I knew before I had kids… 

#4 - How it would affect my relationship with my husband

Once again, this was one of those topics that had been brought to my attention before having kids, but I don’t think I really recognised what it would look like.

When you have a baby, it can be an exciting time, but can also be incredibly exhausting.

Neither of you are sleeping as well as you used to and tiredness makes us all a little crankier and harder to get along with.

Give yourself and your spouse some grace!

Becoming a parent is a life-changing event and it won’t always be a smooth ride.

Sometimes you will snap at your partner, or sometimes they will snap at you.

Try to be quick to forgive and move on, recognising that you are both functioning with less sleep and sanity.

When you can, take some time as a couple to get out and reconnect how you used to before having kids.

This time together can be so important for your relationship and can help dissolve some of the other issues you might be encountering as new parents.

Even if you aren’t able to go out, try spending some intentional time as a couple in the evening or on the weekend, while your little one is sleeping.

This can be as simple as sitting on the couch, facing each other, holding hands, and talking about some happy memories, hopes for the future, funny stories, or what you love most about your partner.

It doesn’t have to be complicated to help. A simple daily connecting time on the couch can do the trick! 

(Sorry for the extra unsolicited advice! ;)


Things I wish I knew before I had kids… 

#5 - How much I would struggle with comparisons

The kinds of comparisons that jump to mind usually have to do with comparing how well we think other moms are parenting or how well our kids are doing…

And that is definitely a real struggle.

But I was surprised how much I struggled with comparing and envying the help that I felt other moms got.

I would hear stories of moms whose parents watched their kids ALL the time (or so it seemed).

Or others whose friends or family would clean their house, take care of their kids or give them extravagant gifts for no apparent reason.

When I allowed myself to focus on this, I became bitter, envious and frustrated.

But clearly that wasn’t helpful!

I’m learning that it’s important to let go of our comparisons and differences, because envy doesn’t bring about anything positive.

In fact, learning to be happy for others can be more freeing.

Let’s say, for example, your friend seems to get a lot more help around their home.

Be happy for her! Even if it feels fake at first, try telling yourself that you are happy they are able to get that help.

And then focus on the things that you DO have in your favor and try to celebrate those.

I’m not saying this is easy, as I’m still working on it.

But I think positivity and gratefulness will help us more than stewing in bitterness and comparisons.

 

Things I wish I knew before I had kids… 

#6 - How important it would be to be active after having kids 

I’ve always enjoyed moving and working out and needed it in order to feel healthy, sane and balanced.

After having kids, this became even more significant. 

When you become a mom, you can easily feel lost and overwhelmed as you feel like you’re constantly giving to others.

Making the time to exercise postpartum can be incredibly beneficial for your mood and energy.

I find that when I make time for myself and working out, I feel happier, less angry and more patient with myself and my kids.

This is why I’m so passionate about Be Active Maternity!

I want to help moms to experience the joys of motherhood through movement.

I want moms to feel strong, happy, balanced and energetic - feelings that sometimes feel impossible as a new mom.

I’m not saying that having a new sports bra, maternity leggings and a nursing workout top are going to solve all of your problems…

BUT, I do believe that feeling great in your own skin with what you’re wearing, and feeling supported to move and be active can be a tremendous help in improving your mood and experience of motherhood!


Things I wish I knew before I had kids… 

#7 - How I would miss being creative and using my brain in different ways

Motherhood is challenging and requires a tremendous amount of mental energy.

Some even say that motherhood makes you smarter!

But for me personally, I found that I still needed other things to focus on.

We all have something that we are passionate about and that makes us feel alive when we are working on it.

What is that one thing for you?

For me, it’s problem-solving and being creative!

I absolutely LOVE thinking of problems and then creative ways to solve them.

This is how we started Be Active Maternity and creating maternity and nursing activewear.

The thrill of starting a Canadian maternity and nursing activewear company from scratch gave me so much energy and life!

Each time I design and revise a new nursing sports bra or get to try the final version of our maternity leggings or nursing hoodie, I realize that BALANCE IS GOOD!

It’s okay (and beneficial) for you to focus on things other than motherhood that you enjoy and that give you life.

Perhaps you enjoy getting out for bike rides, hiking or working out at home. DO THAT!

Maybe you are more into scrapbooking. GO FOR IT!

You might thrive when you read, cook, bake, craft, run, socialize, create, write, etc.

Whatever you enjoyed doing before having kids, CONTINUE DOING IT! 

It will help give you energy and life, even when you’re feeling exhausted from the challenging job of being a mom.

 

In summary...

Your experiences likely look different than mine. And that's okay!

However you approach mothermood, I truly hope that you can find YOUR balance and joy.

I hope that you find happiness in being a mom, and balance in remembering who you are as an individual and as a couple.

We look forward to having you be part of the Be Active Community :)

We hope that our maternity and nursing activewear will support you in unlocking the joys of motherhood through movement!

Sincerely,

Kelsey & the Be Active Maternity Team


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