Being a mom makes you a target for advice, both wanted and unwanted. But so much of even the well-meaning advice can start sounding the same. New parents know they’re supposed to treasure these moments, not sweat the small stuff, and take time for themselves. And while those sentiments may still be true (if not a bit repetitive), they aren’t always helpful. Yes, those well-worn aphorisms might give you perspective and look nice on a throw pillow, but they won’t help you when your kid is screaming at a store.
So, we asked moms around the country for the kinds of advice they wish they would have gotten years ago — the advice their older selves would give their younger selves. And no, we told them, it doesn’t have to be the kind of advice you’d see on a Mother’s Day card. Here is their real, sometimes hilarious, and most importantly actually helpful advice.
“It’s okay to use your kids’ routines or bedtimes to get out of going to an event. Use your kids as an excuse to say ‘NO’ when something is going to make you feel even more exhausted.” — Brittany Wise, Our Home Made Easy, mom to Aubrey, age 6 and Owen, age 4
“The nurses at the hospital will help you out during those first clumsy 48 hours of ‘parenting.’ In fact, they’ll be so eager to help you that they’ll check in on you every hour around the clock. So just be sure to pack the eye mask in your hospital bag. You’ll need it.” — Courtney Elmer, life coach, mom to a 17-month-old son
“When your kid is demanding a toy in the store, ask if they want that particular toy on their birthday/Christmas list (whatever’s closer!). Then assure them that you have put the item on their list so you won’t forget it later. If they need additional assurance, take a picture of them with the toy. They walk away satisfied that their dearest desires have been properly documented, and you walk away thrilled to have avoided a public meltdown of epic proportions.” — Bethany Dykman, StrengthLoveBirth.com, mother of 5
“When we would shop, I would let my kids look at toys they like ($5 and under) and put in the cart for them to play with, look at, while I shop. Then when its time to pay, I would ask them 2 questions: ‘Do you need it? Or do you deserve it?’ most of the time, they can’t answer it, so we end up putting it back on the shelves. Plus, by then, they are tired of the toy they’ve been looking at for the past 30-45 mins while I shopped.” — Aliw Garcia Pablo, Mom to Alison 18, and Isaiah 15
“I started giving my kids big titles to make them feel accountable and important: ‘Family Room Manager’ (manages family room and makes sure the pillows on the couch are nicely fixed and all toys are put away), ‘Vacuum Director’ (Vacuums rooms/floor).” — Aliw Garcia Pablo, Mom to Alison 18, and Isaiah 15
“If the hospital has a nursery, let the baby go for a night! Send your partner home, trust your nurses, AND SLEEP. You don’t notice the amount of energy you exert during labor and your body needs that rest. I promise it’s two years later and I still have never slept that good.” — Shavon, mother to a two-year-old
“Being on a schedule is not overrated; stick to that schedule! It breeds results!” — Anna, mom to two children, ages 2 & 4
“It’s okay to tell your toddler ‘the mosquitoes are coming out; we have to go inside’ to avoid a total meltdown or refusal to do what you asked.” — Jen Kohorst, Minnesota Momma, mom to two children, 2 years old and 3 months old
“Don’t set the bar too high for the tooth fairy, or you’ll be stuck explaining why there was no glittery note and $5 bill every time. And don’t save the baby teeth. The kids are just going to throw them out later.” — Alexandra Fung, CEO of Upparent, mom of 3 kids, ages 12, 10 and 2
“When people offer to come over and hold the baby, take them up on it, but more importantly if what you really want is a snack, the toilet cleaned, or fresh sheets on your bed, ask them for that instead.” — Kayce Hodos, LPC, NCC, mom to a son, 8
“If your kid attaches to a blanky, buy at least one extra while it’s still in the store and you don’t have to pay an obscene amount to someone on eBay in order for your child to sleep at night.” —Erin Reeder, The Incremental Mama, mom to 4 girls aged 2, 4, 6, and 7
“It’s okay to throw away 1 (or 10) of their toys while they’re sleeping. The next day, they won’t realize ANY of their 218 toy cars are missing.” — Aleka, Bite-Sized Kitchen, mom to two boys ages 1 and 2 and a half
“Being a mom is like babysitting, but the parents never come home.” — Carla Burgess, The Older Mom, mom to three daughters ages 22, 20 and 8
“Don’t buy a pretty bra for like 2 years. Just get the cheap stuff, because when everything settles, those milk-stained bras will be too big and nasty to keep.” — Emirick Haro, mom to Russell 18, Andrew 15, and David 12