Imagining Your Ideal First Year

How Dreaming a Little Can Help Shape Your Reality as a Mom

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By Joelle Jay and Amy Kovarick


Since you found out you were having a baby, you have dreamed of her arrival. Maybe you’ve pictured her rosy cheeks, her velvet skin, her powdery scent. Along with dreams about your new baby, it’s time to start dreaming about the new life you will live as a mother. You do this by using your imagination.

This is your chance to daydream, to make your wish, to create a picture of what your new life as a mother could be if anything were possible. Trust us, there will be plenty of time for reality later. Just take a moment now to enter the life of your dreams.

The goal is to imagine your ideal first year as a mother. What would a perfect year look like? What if you could have it all? Go ahead, live a little! Find out what “ideal” really means for you.

For example, imagine a day with your baby. Would “perfect” be strolling along sexy and sassy with your baby at your side, shopping in the latest boutiques? Or would it be lounging in pajamas all day long with nothing to do but be Mama? Would “ideal” mean being the can-do businesswoman with a happy family? Would it mean a little time for yourself? A trip to the spa? A good jog? Time with your hobby?
Time with your hubby? A playgroup full of other new mothers, every one of them as clueless and hopeful as you?

Your vision gives you a way of looking into the future, even when you’re not sure what the future holds. It’s also an effective way to find clarity about the life you want to create.


>The Meaning of Dreaming

The life you dream of may not be the one you create. You might learn new things about yourself later in this process that change your mind about what you really want. And let’s face it: Your baby will have his own ideas about what life should be like! So don’t worry if you imagine a life that’s not possible. Allow yourself to be open. This is not about envisioning your exact future. It’s about freeing your mind, having some fun, being creative, and seeing what there is to learn.

The whole process boils down to three easy steps:

1. Tap into your imagination.

2. Notice what’s there.

3. Ask what it means to you.

Then use that learning to inform you as you move closer to designing your new life as a mother.

For instance, let’s say that your vision of the ideal first year has you hiking up a mountain with your baby in a backpack. You might not like to hike. But this scene has something to offer about what might be important to you: exercise, fresh air, family time with your baby – maybe  even a vacation. Regardless of whether you ever go hiking in your first year as a mother, you have nevertheless uncovered something significant – a list of things that you want to maintain in your life after you’ve had your baby.

Notice that this process isn’t just about dreaming. It’s also about discovering meaning. You are learning about yourself and what might be important when your baby arrives.


T-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">Creating Your Vision

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• Visualizing – Visualize your ideal first year – really see it. Let pictures of your future life as a mother play in your mind, like a movie or a slide show. Close your eyes, relax and take a few minutes to imagine one ideal scene. Let your intuition run the show. Try it now.

What popped into your head? Where were you? Who was there? What were you doing? What meaning do you see in your dreaming? Take notes to capture your initial vision as well as any thoughts and feelings it generated.

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• Making a Wish – Another way to tap into your creativity is to create a giant wish list of everything you desire for your first year of motherhood. We love to do this on the floor using big empty sheets of paper and colored pens and pencils, but you can brainstorm on the computer, on a sketchpad, in your PDA, on decorative stationery, or in your head.

Make a mini wish list right now. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and give yourself five minutes to create a wish list of things that you absolutely want for your first year as a mother. Think across your life from your new baby, to your husband or partner, to your career and passions, to family and friends!

What was that like for you? What do you notice about this preliminary wish list?
How do your wishes combine to paint a picture of life as a mother?

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• Doing Something Else! – There are limitless other ways to imagine. Sketch your vision, paint it in vivid color on canvas, or write a letter to your fairy godmother. We know one expectant mother who loves charts; she had a heyday brainstorming for her first year in a spreadsheet. Another covered a wall with ideas on sticky notes. Some women love to make collages. Every mom-to-be may do this differently, experimenting with ways to make her vision one of a kind.


t; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">Common Experiences

Given the chance to roam freely, your imagination has so much to reveal. Here are some of the experiences other expectant mothers have found as they’ve gone through this process.

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• Having Trouble Getting Started – You may find it takes you a while to let loose. One mom-to-be, Janis, noticed as she made a long wish list for a stellar first year of motherhood that she was putting down a lot of small stuff like buying a baby wipes warmer and organizing her CDs. But when she “hit the personal growth category,” she said, “my list got more intense and out of the box. Deeper.” The more time she spent with the list, the more she moved from the superficial to the sublime. Sometimes it takes time, patience and persistence to get to the point where the ideas really flow.

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• Getting Realistic Too Soon – Many women realize that being too realistic or too skeptical gets in the way of dreaming. Often your brain pulls you out of creativity and into practicality. Most women have to remind themselves to stay in “what if?” and away from “but how?”

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• Envisioning the Unexpected – Your vision may startle you. This happened to Leticia. When daydreaming about her first year as a mother, suddenly her sister Rita showed up in the picture. Leticia and her sister had not been close for years, yet she saw a moving vision of Rita holding the baby. It made Leticia realize how profoundly she wanted her baby to know his aunt and inspired her to work on the relationship with her sister.

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• Confirming Your Expectations – Sometimes, dreaming doesn’t raise any surprises at all but rather confirms your view of motherhood the way you think it should be. Simone saw herself on a cruise with her twin baby girls, her husband and her dad. Everyone was happy and content on the balcony under the sun. Even when it doesn’t expose anything new, visioning can reinforce what’s important to you – a valuable reminder as life begins to change.

• A Sense of Serenity – or Stress
– Envisioning an ideal first year is often a crystallizing moment. Many women see for the first time a cohesive picture of their lives with a baby. Being shown an image of your future can be soothing or scary, depending on what you see.

One mother reported a sense of relief: After random thoughts of motherhood drifting through her mind for months, it felt good to collect her hopes and dreams in one place. Another felt a little overwhelmed and disappointed that her real life was so far from her vision.

Whether you feel reassured or rattled, the visioning process will often lead to clarity about what you do and don’t want to create.


Your Ideal First Year

You now have a vision of your first year as a mother. Whether that vision is a series of images, a list or just a general sense of what you’d love your life to be, it will serve as a guide to your future. You may not necessarily create the ideal life you’ve envisioned, but it’s a beginning.

Your dreams about motherhood are the essence of the new life you’re creating. By giving yourself permission to fantasize, you’ve freed yourself from the limits of reality and entered the realm of possibility.


Excerpted from Baby on Board: Becoming a Mother Without Losing Yourself – A Guide for Moms-to-Be, by Joelle Jay, Ph.D., and Amy Kovarick. Copyright © 2007 Joelle Jay and Amy Kovarick. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, N.Y. Used with permission. All rights reserved.