Dear new Mom and Dad,
Welcome to being a parent! Congratulations on your new little bundle of joy and cuteness. I know you’ve been getting all sorts of parenting advice since the day you announced your pregnancy, some of this advice is probably good, some of it is probably bad, some of it, surely, is very, odd. I’m sure by this point your go to action is to nod silently and ignore most of the advice that comes your way. However I do have one bit of advice that you should really take into consideration in the coming weeks and months:
No matter the guilt you may feel, it’s perfectly ok to just say “No”
The next few weeks are probably going to be a little wild for you—don’t worry, that’s normal. For a little while, you’re going to be tired and anxious and depending on how delivery went perhaps unable to do much of anything but take care of your baby. And that’s okay. In the first few weeks some people may bring frozen meals, family may pop in to try and help with house work to give you a little break, friends bring adorable onesies and demand that you take a nap or take a shower while they hold the baby. No one scoffs at the dirty dishes; no one rolls their eyes at the pile of laundry and no one asks you to make anything, bake anything, or organize anything. Be sure to enjoy these times—I know they’re hard but, if you’ve got some loving and supportive people in your life, you should be able to rest a little and focus on what matters most.
Something funny happens though, right around the time your baby turns a month old. Now it’s not with your baby, they’re usually still on the eat, sleep, poop schedule you’ve become accustomed to. But it’s a change with the people all around you. See, your baby may still be brand new to you, but to others (especially others who don’t have kids), a month feels like a long time, certainly long enough that you should be jumping back into regular life right? And regular life, that one you had before the baby came, comes with all kinds of commitments that are just way harder now that you have a baby.
Yes, last spring you made six dozen cookies for a friends baby shower but this spring, just getting to the store to buy ingredients seems next to impossible. It’s okay to just say “no.”
Sure, when your best friend got married last year you organized her bridal shower and bachelorette party. However now, your brains feels so fuzzy you don’t feel qualified to organize your laundry piles, let alone a plan a get together for lunch a small group of eight. It’s okay to just say “no.”
And yes, going out to for a girls day with friends really would feel amazing, but you’re worried about germs around your baby and they’re going somewhere without room for a car seat carrier anyway. It’s okay to just say “no.”
You’re allowed to say “no” because it’s nap time or because you’re tired or because you just don’t think you can do it.
You can say “no” because your baby doesn’t do well in the afternoon, or because you’re going back to work soon and want to soak in every moment, or because breastfeeding is still hard and you want to do everything you can to get it right. It’s alright to say “no” because you don’t want your newborn around a bunch of strangers, or because you’re worried it might be too loud, or because you just want a quiet night in. Whatever your reason, if you don’t want to do it, it’s okay to just say “no.”
Saying “no” is difficult because you don’t want to feel like you’re letting people down or just using baby as an “excuse”. However you can still politely or say “no” and explain why you just can’t, or say “no” and leave it at that. Whatever you do though, don’t say “yes” when you mean “no.”
I’ve learned that being a mother is hard no matter the age of your child, but being a mother to a newborn, or an infant or a toddler, is particularly time and labor intensive. Don’t feel guilty for putting your child, family and most of all yourself first for a little while. In time, you’ll start saying “yes” again and, eventually, as your children grow, the times you say “yes” will outnumber the times you say “no.”
Having a baby is a weird and wonderful adventure. While you are learning so much about your new bundle of joy and all the odd stages they’ll go through both positive and insanity challenging. You’ll also learn who is also really there for not only you but your baby now as well. And those who do stay in your life supporting you and be understanding that “no” doesn’t mean “no” forever.