5 Common New-Mom Challenges

You Think You Have to Be Perfect

Mothers feel a lot of pressure: They shouldn't live in sweats, their kids should always be happy, and their house should be spotless. But trying to be perfect will make you crazy, says Kunhardt. Instead, aim to be a "good-enough mother." This means providing a safe and loving environment for your baby but accepting that you'll make mistakes -- and you and your house will be messy. Rejecting the perfect-mother myth also means resisting the urge to micromanage your baby's day. "Moms think they should constantly be talking or singing to their baby or jumping up every time he cries," says Spiegel. "But babies need downtime. They really are happy staring at the ceiling fan."

How to cope: Don't feel guilty about popping your baby into his bouncy seat for short periods during the day so you can eat lunch, take a shower, or put your feet up. In addition, accept that babies cry -- and don't take it as a sign of your failure as a parent if you can't immediately soothe your little one.

Finally, ignore criticism from family, friends, and strangers about your mom skills. "Some people will comment on everything from how you're spoiling your baby by always picking him up to how he's not dressed warmly enough," says Kunhardt. "Just thank the person for the tips and keep doing what you feel is right."

Originally published in the August 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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