I stared at the small, blank white card in my hands and felt unsure of what to write. You see, I was at a baby shower for a friend who’s about to be a first-time mom. As part of the festivities, we were to jot down some advice for her.
After more than seven years of parenting and three kids, I felt like what I needed was a ream of paper and a limitless supply of ink. Now, let’s be clear. I am not claiming to be a parenting expert. I’m the woman who had such a difficult time potty-training her second child, that I’m hoping my third child will just stay in diapers forever.
But if you’re like me, motherhood has been an incredible learning experience. Each day, I’ve had to change and grow – sometimes in really hard ways (sleep deprivation, anyone?) – to be the mom I want to be for my kids.
So, my mothering advice onto a single 3×5 card?
Maybe I should just jot down the locations of the cleanest bathrooms in town and call it good.
Instead, I stopped to think. Really think.
If I could give just one piece of advice to a new mom… any new mom, really… what would it be?
Form your own personal Mom Advisory Council.
What do I mean by advisory council?
Mom Advisory Council. noun. A handful of women in your life who are trustworthy, wise, humble, and kind – and are a little (or a lot) farther down this road of motherhood. See also: Encouragement. Good advice. Laughing until tears run down your cheeks.
Now you may be asking me this. Why should I bother with an advisory council?
I’ll answer that question with one of my own.
Have you ever posted a parenting question on Facebook?
Each time I see a parenting question pop up in my Facebook feed, I cringe a little, and then dive into the comments. For example, “How can I get my 10 month old to sleep through the night?” The answers (and quality of answers vary widely):
- Cry it out
- Ferberize (Not to be confused with Febreze, which tends to be stinky diaper related.)
- Rock the baby to sleep – 846 rocks should do the trick
- Go for a car ride
- Put the baby in her car seat and set it on top of a rumbling washing machine
The (questionable) advice goes on and on. It’s not just limited to Facebook. You can get advice from Google, the stranger at the grocery store, your family, and your in-laws. It even comes from your sister’s old roommate from college who saw your post on Instagram can’t help but notice you are swaddling the baby totally wrong and would you like to purchase a special swaddle set from her that only costs $84 plus shipping?
The sheer quantity of input is overwhelming. Different answers are confusing. Condescending advice leaves us feeling insecure or inadequate. It’s just too much.
Enter your Mom Advisory Council.
This is your carefully chosen Jedi Council of advice and encouragement. Forming a Mom Advisory Council means, to the best of your ability, when it comes to your mothering questions, you will tune out the random stranger at the store, the Instagram acquaintance, and resist the urge to Google it.
Who should be on your council? Here are some suggestions.
- A really great health practitioner, who listens well and gives thoughtful answers.
- The friend you call when you’re hormonal, tired, and at the end of your rope. (There’s no shame in ugly-crying on the phone.) She remembers your parenting struggles and takes time to check in. (“Congrats! You just survived Day Three of Potty Training!”)
- The older mom who doesn’t have it all together, but seems to have some really great kids. You tend to feel more comfortable and confident in your own parenting after being around her.
- The mom who is quick to listen and slow to give advice. She parents her kids in a way that inspires you… you always leave with a new idea that seems within reach.
- The friend who says, “I’m praying for you.” and means it.
- A mom blogger who tells stories that sound like your family life, and who has solutions that make sense to you.
- The friend who helps you see the big picture – the fun and the goodness of motherhood on your hardest days. An added benefit, making you laugh so hard you cry with stories of her own motherhood mishaps.
Your Mom Advisory Council can be in person or online. They can be friends or strangers to one another. But they are women you regularly check in with for encouragement and advice. Your council may change over the years, with additions to the circle, and those who drift away. And that’s okay, too. The important thing is focusing in on a small group of people who can inform, encourage, and inspire you in motherhood.
So if I have to boil it all down to a single 3×5 card, that’s my advice.
Find your own Mom Advisory Council.
After all, becoming a superhero mom is a team effort.
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