They say it takes a village to raise a child, and if you speak to any parent, they will agree. Moms mentoring moms is the best ways for new moms to learn. Becoming a parent comes with a new set of challenges – most of them unpredictable. Especially in these unprecedented times, new parents are faced with a new set of unforeseen challenges, from pandemic issues, like baby’s wellbeing and work unpredictability, to social turmoil and being a caregiver for our own parents.
Many parents report feeling unprepared for the obstacles they encounter once the baby’s born, which often causes distress and feelings of discouragement. Books on what to expect can be helpful but the truth is that the baby has not read them. Sometimes the best help you can get is from someone who’s been there before.
Enter your lighthouse. In the case of a new mom, it’s most often a mom mentor.
A “human lighthouse” is someone to turn towards to give hope and direct us back to the positives, like the incredible new blessing in your life. They are the ordinary people in our lives that make an extraordinary impact. They are the ones you call several times a day to ask if you’re doing something wrong. Like the lighthouse they will say: Follow me, I know the way.
So, how do you identify your human lighthouse as a new parent?
Who’s Your Go-to Call?
Most often, your go-to person before you have a baby will be your go-to person after you have your baby (albeit they’re a mother!). This is someone who answers your calls at 3pm or 3am. You can count on them to listen to you, to meaningfully care for you and your baby, just as they always have. Sometimes, but not always, this is a family member, like a mother or a sister. In fact, nearly half (50 percent) of parents agree that family is the primary go-to as far as advice and understanding goes.
Accept New Mom Help or Advice
Sometimes, you don’t need to seek out lighthouses yourself, they will appear. You might be surprised at who in your life provides much-needed new mom support for you in times of need. These are the people that reach out unsolicited, offering help or advice. Try not to turn these people away because of pride or feeling guilty. Most times they are offering advice because they have been down that same road and they remember how challenging it was.
Find Other Moms Like You
When looking for guidance, while most people may turn to family or friends, sometimes the best and most helpful support you can get is from new moms that are just like you, who understand the current challenges, and can understand your struggles. If you already have new mommy friends, great! If not, there are new mom groups you can join to meet other moms. You might even enjoy having a new group that’s all about motherhood and babies.
Be Open to New Friendships
Having a baby inevitably opens your world up to new experiences and also new relationships. It could be another mom at the park, a parent you click with at daycare, or an old friend with kids who needs another mommy friend. As busy as your life may be – especially now – try to be open to forging new friendships because they may just be someone you need and look to.
Seek Out Authentic Parents
While seeking out a parent who’s been there before is helpful in your new journey, listening to ‘perfection propaganda’ is not. Like most things in life, there will be people you meet who strive for ‘perfection’ – and this might inadvertently shame you into thinking you’re not doing enough. Beware the edited lives of social media. Being a new parent can be overwhelming and the last thing you need is to put yourself in a position to be discouraged. Try to find authentic parents who you can commiserate with, who you share your parenting wins AND fails with. Like the lighthouse they do not judge you for being uncertain. Because as much as someone might think their baby’s diapers don’t stink, in reality, they all do.
As a new parent, it might feel easiest to close yourself off to the world with your new bundle of joy. And while, especially in the beginning, you’ll require this alone time, be sure to seek out support when it’s needed. Everyone has difficult days – whether the baby just won’t sleep, or you feel like you’re doing something wrong. Having another parent to act as a safe space for you and a light in dark times can help tremendously both mentally and spiritually.
Be sure to soak in every step of your motherhood journey. And remember, the time may come when a new mother might turn to you as a lighthouse to guide them.
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Steve Pemberton is the author of The Lighthouse Effect: How Ordinary People Can Have an Extraordinary Impact in the World.
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