As soon as you become a mom, you are suddenly bombarded with unsolicited advice from strangers and relations alike. From how you should let your baby cry it out, to when you should ditch her pacifier, all aspects of parenting appear to be fair game. While many of these remarks may be well-intended, you already know that the best parenting advice comes from personal experience.

Of course, the next best thing to firsthand knowledge is from trusted voices of reason who’ve been there, done that, so to speak. In honor of Veterans Day, mom-style, we rounded up a handful of seasoned mothers who share their best parenting tips for the first year of new motherhood. Consider these words of wisdom whenever the going gets tough:

On all those parenting books: “Remember: your baby did not read any of the books you’re reading while you’re preggo, so don’t be surprised if they don’t follow what the book says.” –Alexandra Anderson Bower, Beverly Hills, CA, mom blogger at BeverlyHillsMom.com.

On making mom friends: “Finding other moms can be tough when you are new to the world of motherhood. Babies don’t really play much until they get a little older. I found that mom groups are amazing. Check out local churches or Meet-up Groups. I also found Facebook groups to be helpful to post questions to other moms and even meet other moms.”—Heidi Murphy, Vernon Hills, IL 

On going back to work: “When you become a first-time mommy on maternity leave, suddenly it’s like jumping back in the dating pool. Only this time you’re looking for mom friends with similar values, feelings, etc. Be friendly, be yourself and you will find your tribe.”—Lainie Gutterman, New York, NY, mom blogger at Lainieofleisure.com.

On learning to play again: “Toys are not just for your child.  I find myself and my husband playing just as much as our son does and we get bored, which means that our house now looks like Toys R Us because we have to entertain all of us.”—Julie Stern-Monteiro, Midland Park, NJ

On asking for help: “Always try to put your needs in alignment with the babies. Sleep is important and sleep deprivation is no joke and makes you feel crazy. I found that when family came to see the baby, I would take a nap. At least in the early days. Family is there to help and really to see the baby. Take advantage of that precious time for a shower or run an errand or sleep!”—Heidi Murphy, Vernon Hills, IL 

On giving up the mommy guilt: “Don’t beat yourself up over not being the gold standard mom in every way.  Parenting is really a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t run out of the gate with crazy fervor without remembering you need to pace yourself for your new role for the rest of your life.  Guilt for leaving your baby always plays a role, but you can let yourself relax and unwind sometime.  Baby will survive with dad or grandparents for a few hours!—Mary Wiggins, Tampa, FL

On the simple fact of just getting through another day: “Raising a baby is confusing.  Everyone has an opinion and nothing is black and white.  I’m still not sure about half of what I’m doing: should he really be eating apples, are his swimming lessons a good idea, are vitamins good or bad, and the list goes on.  It’s become a day-by-day learning experience where a happy baby is the best accomplishment!—Julie Stern-Monteiro, Midland Park, NJ