Motherhood 101: Advice from an Old Amateur

I only have one child, but I’m still a professional mom. I mean, really, anyone who calls themselves an actual mom should automatically be classed as a pro, right? However, the interwebs tell me that professionals (at least when you’re referring to athletes) are people who get paid for their gig and last I checked, I haven’t received a paycheck with the memo ‘for momming hard.’ And let’s face it; momming is definitely one of the more intense sports out there.

So amateur mom I still am.

As for the old thing though, I’ve definitely got that covered. I may be a geriatric mom, but I’ve still got my wits about me and I’ve learned a thing or two about motherhood in the past four years.

I’m still learning (every day) but these 10 things stuck out the most in my head. Maybe you’ll also find them helpful:

1. Stop asking for medical advice online.

I know, I know. I too have googled every rash and symptom my child has ever had, but asking 1,000 people in a Facebook mom group (and posting photos of your precious child’s naked booty covered in said rash?). Just no. Unless you want advice ranging from, but not limited to: squirting breastmilk onto it, diffusing essential oils, stocking up on elderberry syrup, rubbing coconut oil on it, or seeing a chiropractor, then just get your child to the doctor. And yes, I’ve done all of the above, but I still take my child to a medical professional when necessary.

2. Have important phone numbers such as the local police and your pediatrician already in your phone.

You don’t want to be looking up the number for poison control while you’re in the parking lot assessing how much of the sunscreen your child actually ingested. (How in the world did he get a hold of the sunscreen in any case?!) 

3. No matter how long your child has been using an actual toilet, keep a change of clothes in the car.

They may never again have another accident of the potty nature, but all kinds of other joy can strike when you least expect it: car sickness, spilled drinks, and rain showers — not to mention all of the random times your kid jumps in public fountains and water play areas all over Chattanooga. Sure you can drive your child home in just a soggy diaper, but would you want to wear your seatbelt without a shirt on? I thought not.

There’s a good chance I forgot to pack spare clothes on this day.

4. Speaking of car seats, install yours correctly and make sure your kids are in the appropriate seat for their age and size.

And for the love of all things holy, do NOT post photos of your child in their car seat unless you want a backlash of comments about how the straps are on incorrectly. Same goes for photos of your kid in the stroller, because that easily looks like your kid is in a car seat. That being said, take the time to put the straps on your child correctly.

5. Have your kid carry their own stuff.

At a certain point, no matter how many children you have, we run out of arms to carry all of the junk we need to cart around. The doctors don’t hand you a third arm at birth like I wish they would. Buy a smallish backpack and have your kid schlep his own snacks around. These are super cute and perfect for snacks, while these are amazing as a hiking bag, school backpack, or for travel carry-ons.

You have plenty to cart around. Let your kid carry their own snacks.

6. Know how, when and where to buy, sell and trade your child’s stuff.

Kids grow fast. Those onesies won’t and probably shouldn’t last forever. Get your thrifting game on, and learn how to sell your stuff.

Now is not the time to get sentimental over clothing that no longer fits your child. Get rid of it!

7. Be prepared for a c-section if you’re pregnant.

I had dreams of an all-natural drug-free birth that went sideways when my baby was still breech. While you may be a pro at vaginal deliveries, the reality is that 30% of births in America still end up as c-sections. Get all the facts before they wheel you back in for surgery.

8. Sort your affairs.

Being a parent, whether you’re a first-time teenage mom, or in your 40s like me, means you’re officially an adult. Be sure to sort out important documents such as Power of Attorney and your will.

9. Accept help.

We had only lived in Chattanooga about a year when our son was born, and we graciously accepted all meal offers that were given to us. One friend even offered to come over and clean our apartment. We politely declined, since the Sailor was on leave for those first seven weeks, and we lived in a relatively small, luxurious apartment that seemed to stay quite tidy (mostly thanks to the Sailor’s ability to run a vacuum and mop a floor). Now though, we live in a 1955 charming old house (complete with original kitchen) that has ALL THE DIRT. Bring on the merry maids, because today, I wouldn’t refuse that same offer. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and then also accept it.

10. Get out every day, or at least a few times a week.

I am an introvert by nature and so the very thought of socializing leaves me mentally exhausted. But even now, I force myself to haul my child out, even for just a walk, to be around other people. Motherhood can be a lonely place, and sometimes you just need the clerk at Walmart or Target to tell you how cute your kid is, even when they’re trying to climb on the conveyor belt. Getting out doesn’t always have to cost money either. Some of my favorite free places around Chattanooga include the downtown library, the aquarium water splash areas, Coolidge Park and simply walking along the River Walk.

Now bookmark this list, because we all know mom brain is real and so we may forget all 10 of these items as soon as our kids distract us. Feel free to add your own advice in the comments.

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