Our beautiful little boy is three and half months old now. It is amazing how much you learn with each child. Some of this stuff I wish I knew when I had my first and second children, so I thought I would share some coping strategies for life with a new baby.
(1). Enjoy your baby.
I have deliberately put this tip first. The heading of the post can sound like babies are all hard work, but this is definitely not the case. It is hard work, but work which reaps amazing results. Don’t take it so seriously, that you don’t enjoy your beautiful baby.
Remember, the house will eventually become tidy, the baby will eventually sleep and eventually you will not be in a sleep deprived fog. The baby however will grow up quickly and that precious time cannot be made up.
(2). Trust your instincts.
As parents you know your baby, trust this knowledge and try what you think will work for your baby. Be confident in your ability as a parent. (This is especially true as the baby grows into a toddler – children can smell doubt or fear!)
(3). Filter the advice from others.
Everybody has advice for new parents. I have always listened to advice of other parents, if they have been there before they may have answers for you. I do however filter out advice that does not fit my parenting style.
Naturally I didn’t have a parenting style to start out with, but if I tried something and it didn’t feel right, made me anxious or worried, I wouldn’t do it. You must feel comfortable and confident with how you parent your baby.
(4). What Sleeping Problem?
Someone once gave me this piece of advice on babies and sleeping:
It is only a sleeping problem if you are unhappy with the sleeping situation.
When deprived of sleep it is so easy to become slightly obsessed about how much your baby is sleeping (speaking from personal experience!). Lots of people have views on where baby should sleep, how long baby should sleep and when baby should start sleeping through the night. In reality I don’t believe that there is any one “right” way to approach baby’s sleep. Don’t worry what other people think, if you are happy with how you and baby are sleeping, don’t feel pressured to change.
(5). Communicate with your partner.
Don’t assume that your partner knows what you are feeling or what your day is like. Especially if you are the mum and are at home full time, don’t keep your feelings to yourself. I have found that doing this then means a rather big eruption of feelings, when there are too many to hold in!
(6). Prepare In Advance.
As you may have noted from this blog, I love a bit of planning. However, my planning obsession really only came to its full light once I had children. Doing things in advance when you get the time, means that if everything starts to fall apart later on in the day, then you won’t feel so stressed.
Cooking the evening meal in the morning is a great example of that. Late afternoon, early evening can be a challenging time with a new baby, so if you don’t have to worry about cooking then, you can just spend time tending to the baby’s needs.
(7). Take Nana Naps.
I love an afternoon nap. Even now, a couple of times a week I will lie down for an afternoon nap when our baby and three year old are having their afternoon sleeps. It means that by the time the 5.00pm rush hits, I am not so tired and I have greater patience with the children.
(8). Readjust your standards.
Once upon a time, when I would clean my house, I would do it in one session. I could then sit back and reflect on how clean and tidy everything was. With a new baby (and 4 other children) I simply do not have the blocks of spare time to do this. I have adjusted my standards and accept that it takes me a number of days to go through the house and have all the cleaning done.
Depending on how much your baby sleeps and how you have recovered from the birth, you may need to adjust your standards on things like ironing, cleaning, fancy meals etc.
(9). Get outside of the house.
Exercise and fresh air are great for you and the baby. Simply going for a short walk each day, can do wonders for your mood. It can also be quite isolating being home full time with a new baby. Join a mother’s group or find a regular social outlet that you can participate in, so you can have adult stimulation.
(10). Acknowledge your work.
When you have a little baby, it is important that you acknowledge all the things that you have managed to achieve in a day. Don’t focus on what didn’t get done. Kathy at Zucchini in Bikinis wrote a great post on this issue called Achievement.
At the moment with our little baby if I manage to get the children to school with a healthy lunch and on time, cook a decent meal, complete the after school activities and do a load of washing, it is a great day.
I have to remind myself not to worry about the pile of ironing waiting for me, dusting which needs to be done, oven which needs to be cleaned, toy cupboard which needs reorganising etc etc! Having a new baby is a time in our life when completing the essential tasks is a great achievement.