The last of my three kids will turn one next month. I didn’t expect I would be this sad or this gut-busting happy at every change in her either. There’s nothing like the baby year and the friends who encourage you through it.

This is my sleep-deprived and desperately grateful thank you to everyone who encouraged me through each of my three seasons as a sleep-deprived-deeply-exhausted-and-utterly-ecstatic new mom. This journey, it inspired a book, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom and you can download the first 3 chapters for free over here.

And now it’s my turn to pass the encouragement on…

  1. Fold her laundry – especially all the socks
  2. Leave immediately when the baby falls asleep so she can nap
  3. Bring chocolate
  4. Don’t tell her to call if she needs anything, just drop by and help with everything
  5. Take the big kids out for a play date
  6. Tell her she’s a hero
  7. Bring her food in disposable dishes so she doesn’t have to deal with washing or returning them
  8. Don’t tell her to carpe diem
  9. Cry with her
  10. Laugh with her
  11. Share details of what you love about her baby
  12. Watch Up All Night with her
  13. Don’t tidy your house before she comes over to visit – it doesn’t help her to think you have it all together
  14. Tell her a day will come when she will sleep again
  15. Make her a 2am nursing station on Pandora
  16. Email her a bunch of fun deals links she can surf while nursing
  17. Make sure she’s actually in 1 out of every 1,000 photos she’s taking {thanks Natalie for being that person for me!}
  18. Take candid pictures of her in the new daily routine
  19. Bring diapers when you visit
  20. Offer to drive her on errands and stay in the car with the baby
  21. Be honest about how hard motherhood can be
  22. Text her encouraging messages throughout the day
  23. Come over and hold the baby so she can have her arms back for a while to do chores or cook or catch up on anything that’s driving her crazy
  24. Tell her to keep her phone on vibrate so you can call without being “that person who woke the baby.”
  25. Don’t let her become isolated in the baby cocoon – invite her and the baby out so she can reconnect with friends
  26. Never expect her to show up anywhere on time
  27. Bring her lip gloss
  28. Massage her neck and shoulders
  29. Run her a hot bath
  30. Don’t imply that breast feeding should be a breezy walk in the park; let her know it’s normal to struggle sometimes getting the hang of it
  31. If she chooses to go the bottle route, please let her do so guilt free
  32. She is just discovering the hard world of mother guilt – please don’t do or say anything to add to that burden
  33. Don’t share any horror stories related to motherhood
  34. Protect her from turning on the news in her first few weeks of being home
  35. Vacuum
  36. Bring fresh flowers
  37. Take out any dried up bouquets
  38. Paint her toe nails
  39. Tell her she’s beautiful
  40. Don’t tell her by now your kids were all sleeping through the night
  41. Especially if by “sleeping through the night” you mean from 1am to 5am.
  42. Remember that your memories of new motherhood have the romantic haze of distance
  43. Wash her dishes without being asked
  44. If you come over for a meal, please bring the meal and then clean it all up afterwards
  45. Let her know it’s normal to stand hunched over a sleeping baby just listening to them breathe
  46. Anytime she is disappointed by her new figure remind her that she grew a human being – that’s a miracle and turns out miracles need room to grow
  47. Don’t bring over any magazines that feature celebrities in swimsuits 6 weeks after giving birth
  48. Ask her what the one chore is around the house she wishes she could get to and do it for her
  49. Always bring your camera when you visit
  50. Print and frame one of the zillion photos she emails of the baby; include baby’s name and birth date {it blew me away when my friends did this for  me!}
  51. Bring toys/games over for the older kids when you visit
  52. Tell her it’s OK to feel like you want to quit motherhood some days
  53. But tell her that Trace Adkins is right and she’s gonna miss this one day
  54. Don’t just make a hand print of the baby – make one of mom and/or dad’s too for a fun comparison keepsake
  55. Bring her a Memory Keeper Box for that hospital bracelet, first lock, or even those first few pairs of shoes or favorite toys
  56. If she has to go back to work, assure her God will be watching over that precious baby. She is brave if she gets up while it is still dark to provide for her family
  57. Tell her pizza covers all the food groups
  58. Hold the baby so she can get a shower
  59. Bring over the Pride and Prejudice (BBC Series) boxed set for all those dinner {for the baby} and a movie {for her} months
  60. Ask her which baby items she still needs – get her those instead of the cute clothes you have your eye on
  61. Assure her you understand that while she might know that she’s walking on holy ground, that doesn’t mean she won’t still feel irritated how often that ground is strewn with cracker crumbs and yesterday’s socks
  62. Admit motherhood is one of the hardest things you’ve ever done
  63. Go ahead and quote that goodie-but-oldie, “It’s not brave if you’re not scared.” {Thank you Ben Affleck}
  64. Warn her everyone will have an opinion on how she mothers but at the end of the day, hers is the only one that matters
  65. Assure her motherhood is not graded; some days just surviving is victory enough
  66. Tell her that drive-throughs are the best friends of mothers-with-sleeping-babies everywhere
  67. Keep a pack of Thank You Cards handy in case she freaks out late one night that she hasn’t thanked anyone for all the meals
  68. Never expect a thank you card from a sleep deprived new mom
  69. Tell her there is no such thing as “doing it all.” And especially no such thing as “doing it all perfectly.”
  70. Reassure her that sometimes the love and happiness in a home is directly proportional to the mess.
  71. Send a special prayer, encouragement or blessing addressed to the baby via snail mail
  72. Turn the music up and dance with her and the baby
  73. Suggest that the greatest Pandora station for soothing baby music that mama can also love has to be “Winter Song” by Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles
  74. Take her (and the baby) for a walk
  75. Stock her fridge with necessities anytime you come over – like milk, bread, eggs, yogurt, ice cream etc – in case she isn’t up for grocery shopping
  76. Watch the baby for her while she goes grocery shopping
  77. Suggest she spend 15 extra minutes just reading in the magazine aisle
  78. Tell her it’s normal to be be smitten with newborn love one minute and weeping with tired the next
  79. Encourage her that a content household is rarely ever a perfect one
  80. Remember to always be kind to the mom on your flight
  81. Bring a goodie bag over for the new mom and not just the baby when you come to visit
  82. If you’re too far to bring over a meal, tell her dinner from her favorite delivery place is on you
  83. Tell her there’s no shame in cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  84. Make up midnight snacks for her to grab when she’s up feeding the baby
  85. Tell her not every photo needs to be perfect – sometimes the closer to real life, the better
  86. Give her the The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood for when she needs to laugh
  87. Give her Devotions for Sacred Parenting: A Year of Weekly Devotions for Parents for when she needs to be inspired
  88. Tell her matching socks are highly overrated
  89. Wash the baby bottles for her
  90. Tell her not to sweat store bought baby food, disposable diapers or pacifiers
    – whatever works, works
  91. Reassure her that perfect is merely a street sign at the intersection of impossible and frustration in Never Never land
  92. Tell her motherhood should come with a super hero cape, a really cute one with sparkles
  93. Buy her sparkly nail polish
  94. Tell her not to sweat everything Pinterest tells her she should be doing, baking, making and crafting for the baby
  95. Encourage her to embrace PJ days – even if they last for weeks
  96. Encourage her also to go spend two glorious hours at the hair dresser while you watch the baby
  97. Tell her about all the women who did all these things for you
  98. Assure her that just passing along the encouragement one day is thank you enough
  99. Remind her it’s the ordinary days that make the extraordinary memories
  100. Promise her it will just keep getting better

Go ahead, pass it on – encourage another mom! But kindly don’t re-post this entire list, just share a few bullets and then link back over here. Thank you. Brave, wonderful, you.

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