We chatted with five moms on how motherhood has changed them, what they wished someone had told them about the days/weeks after giving birth, their biggest piece of advice to any new mom, and more!
Erin Falconer, mom of one and author of How To Get Sh*t Done (Los Angeles, CA)
Lauren Brandt, mom of one and Co-Founder of The Returnity Project (Detroit, MI)
Alex Zagami Ng, mom of one and Kids Shop Owner at PiccoliNY (Brooklyn, NY)
Leah Fink - mom of two, longtime NYC educator and Founder of Classes At (Brooklyn, NY)
Chanelle Lagace, mom of two, Fitness Professional and Stay at Home Mom Boss (Houston, TX)
If you're pregnant, a new mom or even a "seasoned mom," this one's for you. Reading this will either have you taking notes, nodding your head in agreement, or thinking back to when you became a mom for the first time. Cheers to you, mom!
How has motherhood changed you?
Erin Falconer: I think my biggest change has been from needing to do a million things a minute to really appreciating the value in focusing on one thing at a time - starting with my son. It has really made me appreciate being in the moment as it happens and I’ve tried to extend that to other parts of my life.
Lauren Brandt: Motherhood has completely changed me as a person for the better. The first time I held my daughter Olivia, I felt such an overwhelming sense of love and knew right then and there that becoming a mother was my purpose in life. Motherhood has helped me see what truly matters, and I have a greater appreciation for the small joys in life. Motherhood has also changed my view on career, family and life. While my career is still very important to me, my family is and always will be my number one priority no matter what. I’m more efficient at work since becoming a mother, and it’s allowed me to be fully present at home.
Alex Zagami Ng: Motherhood has forced me to slow down, but in the best way. Sonny has taught me patience and to not take anything for granted. Whenever I think of the time flying by with him, I like to remember a quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you can miss it."
Leah Fink: I really feel like I'm mostly the same person as I was before I had children, but an even better version of myself. I'm more productive, more creative, and a better friend, and partner. Motherhood has opened me up in ways that are hard to describe, but I definitely feel like I’ve become more empathetic and kind since having children.
Chanelle Lagace: Being a mom has completely changed my life in every way. Yes, I am still me. I still workout and do activities that I enjoy, but it’s no longer about myself. My family needs are at the top of my list and I wouldn’t change it for the world! I take care of them before I take care of me and they are on my mind all day. I have two kiddos, Lex is 3.5 years old and Becks is 1.5 years old. I’m so busy and at times crazy, but they are so worth it. They complete me and I can’t picture my life without them!
What did you wish someone had told you about the days/weeks after giving birth?
Erin Falconer: Honesty, I feel like nobody really tells you how much pain you’re in after birth. The stories are mostly centered around birth stories, so I really hadn’t contemplated the healing time (physically and emotionally). It’s not as though it was insurmountable, but from a pacing lens, I felt like I just needed to make it to giving birth, and in fact, it’s longer than that!
Lauren Brandt: I wish someone would have been real with me about everything. I knew nothing could prepare me for motherhood and it’d be tough, but I didn’t realize how hard those first few MONTHS would be. I struggled every day and can’t count the number of times I randomly burst into tears. I wish someone would have told me that breastfeeding would NOT be easy. I wish someone would have told me that I would barely be able to walk after having a C-Section. I wish someone would have told me that the sleep deprivation would be torture. I wish someone would have told me about postpartum anxiety. If we’re struggling, we shouldn’t be afraid to talk openly about it as it will only help other moms out there.
Alex Zagami Ng: Be gentle with yourself. I drove myself mad with too much information, by what I thought I was “supposed“ to be doing or feeling as a new mom. I was trying to fit into a mold or perception that I had of motherhood, and that kept me from bonding with my son.
Leah Fink: Hormones — on the day I came home from the hospital with my first, I had inexplicable tears streaming down my cheeks. I didn't realize until later that this major hormone drop would affect me so severely and for so long. Luckily, I knew what was happening when PPD hit me after my second pregnancy, surprisingly much later than it did with my first.
Chanelle Lagace: I come from a Greek family and while my Yiayia played it off as in “I don’t remember anything about that,” my cousin and mother told me a ton! So I was super prepared in that aspect. I do, however, wish someone would have told me more about my hormones being all out of whack! I was a crying mess the first few weeks (which is totally normal).
How has motherhood changed your relationship with your partner?
Erin Falconer: Having a new baby redefines so much in your life and my relationship is definitely one of those things. I’m very lucky to have a partner who is super supportive and available, but still just finding our new rhythm has been tricky. It’s also hard not to throw yourself entirely into this new little human who needs everything from you - but it can’t be at the cost of your relationship, because ultimately that can be very damaging for everyone in the long run.
Lauren Brandt: When we were in the hospital with Liv, I remember looking over at my husband while he was holding her and thinking “I have never loved you more than in this moment right now.” Seeing him as a dad has only made my love for him grow stronger. Raising this little girl together has brought us closer together. On the other hand, it has definitely been tough. As we all know and have experienced, your life completely changes. In the beginning, you’re in survival mode and basically high-fiving as you walk past each other in the hallway. Now that Liv is almost 2, we’ve gotten into a routine and it’s a little easier. We’ve been working to prioritize date nights or just time together.
Alex Zagami Ng: Like any other couple navigating parenthood, we totally have our ups and downs. But what keeps us strong is understanding that we have to work as a team. Sometimes that means we divide and conquer, but no matter what, we do what's best for the family.
Leah Fink: My oldest is 5.5 so we've had a lot of time to adjust to the change. And so much of marriage changes on a daily, weekly, yearly basis with or without kids. I can say this though: having kids has made me appreciate my husband so much more. I've had two really tough losses in my family this year, and my husband seamlessly picked up the slack for childcare and housework, which I could not appreciate more. It also completely melts my heart to see how the babies melt his.
Chanelle Lagace: To me, first I am a wife, then a mother to my children. Yes, kids need a ton of attention and care but so does your partner. I make sure we stay connected and have us time, whether it’s watching a movie together, working out together or going out to dinner when we can get a sitter. As exhausting as it is, your babies need a ton of love but your partner is a BIG baby and he needs love too!
Any mom hacks you can share with fellow moms?
Erin Falconer: Literally, nap whenever you can! Forget the dishes or the laundry - your sleep and mental health are far more important!
Lauren Brandt: Keep items for “going out to dinner” in the diaper bag. Crayons, coloring books, any toys they love so you always have it for last minute plans. Note: This was when I was brave enough to take Liv to restaurants…we now avoid them at all costs after multiple tantrums. ;-)
Alex Zagami Ng: Outsource as much as you can. It feels as if today's mom is expected to do and be so much more, on top of maintaining a full time job. If you can ask for help, do it, and use that valuable time for cuddles.
Leah Fink: This may not be a mom hack, but the old adage of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first rings true. Make sure you take care of yourself first because when Mama's happy (mentally, physically, emotionally), everything else will fall into place. Not everyone has the time or money to take a "momcation," but we can take care of ourselves in small ways: a morning off, an activity that we used to love but forgot about (for me, ballet!), or a night out with the mom friends.
Chanelle Lagace: It’s weird, but after having kids I have started to become somewhat of a neat freak in my kitchen and living areas. My laundry room is a mess and is piled sky high, BUT my kitchen and living room/dining/formal areas are pretty put together! My advice is to clean as you go. Don’t leave a room messy when you leave it. Wash the dishes as soon as they are placed in or near the sink. Sweep and mop when the kids go to bed and then take your shower to relax! I find if my space is clean before I go to bed, I am calm and I sleep better. I wake up happier and I don’t feel the need to clean before the sun is even up. Another bit of advice, who cares about your social life! I go to bed sometimes at 8:30 p.m. and I’m perfectly okay with that. I know I need sleep so I do what I have to do to get my shut eye in so that I’m a pleasant person the next day. Do what YOU have to do!
What is the best piece of advice you would give to a new mom?
Erin Falconer: Know that the first three months are just a total daze of pure bliss and anxiety - but know you WILL find a new normal sooner, rather than later. And trust your partner - let him into the process as much as he wants to be a part of it. It doesn’t matter if every diaper isn’t put on properly when the larger goal is building that tight family bond early on.
Lauren Brandt: BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND ASK FOR HELP. I wouldn’t let anyone do anything the first few weeks (okay months) of Liv’s life and I drove myself crazy trying to do everything myself. Let your village help you, and if you don’t have a village near you, find one with a mom group in your community! Be kind to yourself—you don’t need to have it all figured out. There are so many new moms out there and we’re all in this crazy beautiful journey together. You don’t have to go through it alone.
Alex Zagami Ng: Know that it all gets easier. Also, don’t lose sight of your husband or partner. It’s just as important to be a good mom as is to be a good partner, no matter how hard parenting gets, even through the insomnia, stress, and everything else that life throws at you.
Leah Fink: Two big pieces of advice that I'd give and also that are the cornerstones of Classes At are: 1. Find Your Tribe and 2. Filter out the Noise. Whether it's two or 20 mamas, online or in person, finding your tribe is so important in those early days of motherhood. You'll want people in the exact same phase to take walks with, to bounce ideas off of, to vent to, and to ogle over babies with. Filtering out the noise is all about the unwanted advice, pressure or judgement that comes at you as a new parent. I always tell people to do the research and then follow their gut about what is right for them and their family.
Chanelle Lagace: With my first child, I joined a mommy group in my town. It was so incredibly helpful and I still keep in touch with some of the girls to this day. We talked about everything and it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone. They were going through the same challenges as myself. I also recommend finding a sitter. Even if you are staying at home, you can get sick and emergencies can come up. I recommend finding someone you trust to help you out, especially if family is not close.
About the author: Hayley Nivelle is the Co-Founder & CEO of ellie, the new app for parenting groups. Originally from Kansas City, she lives in the NYC area with her husband and two boys. She has relied on her moms groups for everything from breastfeeding supply tips to dealing with the fun and challenges of a two year old!