Parenthood might be a lifelong journey, but that doesn’t mean you don’t learn lessons quickly along the way — especially in the beginning. A year and a half into mom life and a few short months away from joining the two under two club, I’ve had a chance to reflect on some of those freeing, sanity-saving, mom guilt-releasing lessons. If having my first baby has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes, I truly don’t need to sweat the small stuff. I’d like to think I’ve been fairly laid back in my motherhood journey all along. In hindsight, however, I’m absolutely more comfortable being a mom now than I was just one short year ago. Here are some of the things I’ve stopped doing after having (and becoming more confident with!) my first baby – or plan to veer from altogether with the next.
15 Things I Stopped Doing After My First Baby
1. Washing the Pacifier Every Time It Drops
It’s true. We live in a germ-plagued era where sneezing once at the post office might get you multiple dirty looks. For all of time, though, babies have been born with immune systems that need building. As my fearless toddler grows increasingly curious about every speck of food on the kitchen floor and piece of litter at the playground, she reminds me that we’ll be just fine if baby brother’s paci doesn’t get the spa treatment hers once did with every countless drop.
2. Making My Own Baby Food
As a longtime baker, I’ll always enjoy whipping up something homemade for my children when time allows me to. After having my first baby, though, I’ve stopped feeling the need to make my own baby food. Fed is fed, and kids can be healthy (and happy!) even if their sources of food vary.
3. Using a Special Baby Detergent
When you’re in the thick of needing to do a minimum of one load of laundry a day just to stay afloat in the neverending sea of mismatched tiny socks and baby outfits, you learn to just throw it all in and use what you’ve got on hand.
4. Attempting to Keep a Strict Schedule
The keyword here is attempting because even as a wide-eyed and optimistic first-time mom with the best intentions, my family and I never really made it into that elite group of strict-schedule clans. For the time being, it’s our kids’ world, and we’re just living in it. This isn’t necessarily by choice but by nature and for our own sanity. Regardless of sleeping hours, waking hours, and errands, going with the flow is a must in this household.
5. Striving to Be a Pinterest Mom
I love a good first birthday party (and photo op!) just as much as any modern-day mom. Even more, though, I’ve realized the real magic is in the simple memories made. Tiny humans don’t discriminate when smashing a $1.99 boxed-mix cake or a professionally baked-and-adorned masterpiece, so why should I stress over which one I put in front of them?! On that note: While having my first baby during a pandemic wasn’t necessarily easy at times, there’s something to be said about the perspective it offers regarding what truly matters. After ringing in my daughter’s first birthday with a low-key but uber-special smaller party, it’s safe to say I’ll look forward to leaving the hoopla behind with future children’s birthdays, too!
6. Monthly Baby Milestone Pictures
Okay, I can’t promise this one stopped completely after my first baby. I have, however, stopped striving for flawlessly consistent, seamlessly set-up monthly pictures! I learned around month nine or 10 of my photogenic, squirmy little firstborn’s life that as precious as these are to take and look back on, sometimes the stress isn’t worth the effort. Before long, babies get mobile and opinionated and have better things to do than stare back at the strange contraption of a parent’s camera while the other makes silly faces and animal noises in hopes of cracking a smile. And what mom really needs to spend a whole hour out of an already too-short day rearranging props, monthly blocks, and backdrops that her little one just wants to run off with anyway?
7. Monthly Pregnancy Milestone Pictures
Before I had my first baby, my every waking moment was consumed by thoughts of her evolution and development. At any given point, I was able to name what fruit, vegetable, or random 90’s toy she was the size of (with perfectly-posed iPhone camera “bumpdates”) captured without fail. After having my first baby, I’m lucky if I find myself actually in a photo every now and then, let alone one of just me and my growing bump!
8. Filling the Diaper Bag to the Brim
Less can be more, or at least sufficient enough! In my early days of parenthood, I packed the diaper bag as if we were off for a long weekend getaway — even for a quick trip to the grocery store. I never failed to bring multiple tops and bottoms, two teething toys, three favorite stuffies, a whole can of formula, or a day’s worth of chilled breast milk, etc. We’re golden these days as long as we’ve got a snack, milk, a change of clothes, and a gallon bag for untimely blowout-covered getups.
Oh, and here’s a little tip: Car storage baskets make for excellent landing spots for diaper-bag extras if you’re not quite ready to experience the freedom found in leaving 99% of the nursery’s belongings at home every time you leave the house!
9. Refusing to Be Away From My Second Child for as Long as I Did With My First
As a soon-to-be second-time mom preparing for my first date night with my husband in almost a year and a half, I’m fully prepared to schedule help with my second child much sooner than I was willing to with my first. Drop-in daycare, a babysitter, or preschool has allowed me to leave some of that mom-guilt behind. This is still a bit hard for me. But, self-care for a mama needs to be prioritized. We’re capable of a lot when it comes to being there for our tiny humans. However, we can’t do it all without a moment to breathe, and we shouldn’t have to feel pressured to.
10. Baby Sign Language and Baby Music Class
Okay, this is another one that I can’t quite guarantee. I love incorporating baby sign language and mommy-and-me music classes into our routine. I’m a big advocate of both, actually. That said, if we can’t make it to class one week or fall behind on our signing (because, you know, life with multiple tiny humans), I’m not going to beat myself up. Plus, I know subsequent kiddos may never get to experience the exact same one-on-one attention my firstborn has always received. It is what it is, and we’ll get by!
11. People-Pleasing at the Expense of My Family’s Well-Being
Having my first baby has taught me how important it is to prioritize my growing family. Nobody else. Period. Since having my daughter and gaining more confidence as a mom, I’ve stopped feeling bad about setting boundaries, saying no, and doing what’s best for the family I’ve created.
12. Second-Guessing Decisions I Make Every Day As a Parent
The pressure is real for first-time moms. Whether we’re talking breastfeeding vs formula vs combo feeding, staying home or returning to the traditional workplace, or waiting two days or two months for that precious new bundle to meet any extended family, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to raising babies. After having my first, I’ve grown to find peace in realizing I’m more than capable of trusting my instincts! No explanation is owed to anyone, ever.
13. Being So Hard on Myself
This is one of the things that is hard to stop doing after your first baby. Momming is hard. Full stop. We’re doing the best we can, and that’s reason enough to go easy on ourselves!
14. Being So Hard on My Husband
We don’t always see eye to eye, but we both want to do right by our children. I may get nervous when he’s swinging our toddler upside down on Facetime for the fourth time in the last five minutes. However, said toddler is living her best life. Having my first baby has taught me to pick my battles (within reason, of course), not just with myself but with those around me who also love my tiny humans.
15. Wishing Away the Hard Moments
Parenthood has a way of putting life into perspective. While it may seem as though the sleepless nights will never end and you’ll never get to use the restroom in peace again, these moments are fleeting. The hard ones, the messy ones, the beautiful ones, and the fun ones are all fleeting. They aren’t ever coming back. After having my first baby, I’m more determined than ever to soak up each and every precious little moment.
The Big Picture
There are many things that we may or may not stop after having our first baby. As parents who simply want what’s best for our children, many likely enter into parenthood with unrealistic expectations. In reality, the daily ins and outs of being a parent don’t always pan out as anticipated. There are many things I’ve stopped doing after having my first baby. In letting go of some of my use-to-be non-negotiables, I’ve discovered much more about what matters most on this journey!