Sometimes your whole life seems to be dominated by your new baby. How to survive the day and night (!) without losing your mind, and still enjoy your little one?
A simple trick for energy you can do right now:
Making sandwiches, while trying to tie a shoelace, read the paper, pour a cup of coffee and check your email? Multitasking might seem very efficient, but stress is lurking just around the corner.
But how do you manage a day not multitasking? Here’s how:
Your child, partner and work all demand - and deserve - your attention. But what does really matter now, at this very moment? Dare to make choices based on your own feelings and not on the expectations of others. Will you be happy with a full-time job? Go for it! And if you prefer to be a stay-at-home mom, that's just as worthwhile.
Many women have difficulty saying "no". You do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, or make anyone angry or (god forbid!) not like you. The thought prevails that in order to say no, you must have a very good reason. Well guess what? All these thoughts are absolutely unnecessary. If you think ‘no’, just say ‘no’! Be strong, and save your energy. You need it.
Keep moving. A short walk will give you new energy. But no rush, you don’t have to get back to your old pace. If you don’t feel like going out, put on your favorite music and dance!
I really enjoyed the Mama & Baby yoga DVD by Shiva Rea, because it was easy to incorporate in our daily routine. It really helped us both relax, and it was easier to get baby to sleep!
We can’t say it enough: if you can take a nap, take it. Or a bath, or something else that relaxes your mind. When times are especially rough, schedule time for a power nap, and have your partner or family take care of the little one. And forget about the dishes. You are more important!
Do not use a calendar to fill it up, but to schedule in time for yourself.
There are however some important appointments you might want to jot down in your calendar. Mommy brains are a funny thing, and will make you forget even the most regular and obvious appointments. We use this awesome family calendar, which makes everything go just a little bit smoother 😉
Communication is the key. Talking mainly about how you feel. With your partner, with friends or with other (expectant) mums. If you don’t go out much, catch up with friends on social media.
You do not have to organise everything on your own. Dads of today like to take part in the household and parenting. If you are not getting that support, demand it. And indeed, he probably does it just a little different than you. But you will be surprised how his style of taking care of things might be quicker, or more fun! Or not, but at least you will get some time for your own needs. Which in the long run will make everyone happier. Trust me.
Other moms know where you are at this moment, and how you feel. They can give you a huge amount of practical information, as well as support. It can prevent you from feeling isolated if you are home alone. So find a nearby baby group or baby workshop, and just hang out with your peers!
Believe it or not, the most important person in your life, remains yourself. If there is anyone who deserves time and attention, it's you. Fifteen minutes to half an hour a day for yourself is the bare minimum! Take a walk, take a nap, and if necessary, lock yourself up in the bathroom with a magazine. Make sure that 'me-time' becomes part of your daily routine.
Did you know that a serving of apple pie with ice can help you sleep better? A peanut butter sandwich an hour before you go to bed, helps you relax. And almonds, blueberries and sushi can relieve stress. Yummy!
Lack of sleep is the number 1 issue you might be concerned with after your baby arrives. Here are some tips shared by other parents to get your baby of to dreamland in no time:
Softly caress your baby’s face with a tissue, in a downward fashion. Between his eyes, just above the nose, there is a special pressure point that stimulates sleepiness. But keep it very light and gentle, and don't keep the tissue on your baby's face! Here you can see this method into action:
Blackout curtains can help your baby fall asleep — and keep them sleeping. Because we travelled quite a bit with our first baby, we used portable blinds that black out perfectly and you can put up anywhere in five minutes.
This one is called 'Gro-Anywhere Blind' and you can find it on Amazon here.
Constant “white noise” reminds your baby of the sound of your belly, and can soothe her to sleep. You can use a blow dryer or vacuum (away from the baby and fabric!), or even a special white noise sound machine.
Lie your baby on her side and gently pat her bottom. This example is soooo CUTE!
Use an essential oil like lavender, to calm you and your baby for bedtime. Make sure it is a good quality organic essential oil, without chemicals and other weird stuff.
I'm not a fan of the cry-it-out Ferber method, or any other form of sleep training where babies are left while crying. So if you don't either, you can also decide to lie next to your baby until she sleeps, and then just sneak away 😉
Follow a local baby massage course and add it to your bedtime ritual. It relaxes your baby and often sends them off to sleep. When your child gets older, you can keep the massage as a way to relax them and feel good overall.
This one sounds a bit contradictory, but sometimes accepting the night wakings and not getting enough sleep can actually help you sleep better. Just get rid of your alarm clock so you have no sense of the time, keep your baby close by when you sleep (co-sleeping) and don’t worry about it. Before you know it, those first hard months will pass and things will get easier.
Carrying your newborn in a cross woven wrap or sling helps with a lot of baby issues. It also gives you the freedom to do practically all you need to take care of, while making sure your baby is as happy as she can be. Babies love being close to you and hearing your heartbeat. And one of the best things is that your partner or close family can wear the sling as well, and the baby will in most cases be fine with that too!
Make sure you get a proper workshop on using the sling by a certified babywearing consultant, so you know exactly what is the safest way of babywearing.
When your baby has any discomfort, you can try to use gentle acupressure massage on her feet, and relieve her symptoms. Watch a snoring example 😉
Sometimes it can be hard to know where your baby is teething, to apply some pain relief product if necessary. Here is a handy overview to figure out what’s going on where:
Freeze the nipple of your baby’s pacifier in an ice-cube tray. You can use breast milk, formula or water to make a teething momsicle.
There are special teething things that can help your baby through these difficult phases. I especially like the Molar Muncher, because it soothes the entire gum at once. But lately I have seen raving reviews about a Banana teether, which works both as a teether and a training toothbrush:
A gassy baby can be helped by gently pushing baby’s knees toward her chest.
Massaging your baby can help with a lot of problems, below is a great guide to massage for abdominal problems:
Meconium is the first baby poop. It looks a bit like tar, and is very sticky. It can be hard to remove from your baby’s bottom. If you put a little olive or almond oil on your baby's butt for the first couple days after birth, it will make cleaning up his first poop much easier!
Babies are masters in getting their poop everywhere, especially by the infamous poop explosion. However, if you open up the onesie on the top and pull it down over the shoulder, you avoid smearing your baby’s face with the caca. Which would happen if you pulled it over their head.
Place a fresh nappy under the current one before you change your baby. Clean her bottom, and take away the dirty nappy. The fresh one will be ready for a new poop adventure underneath!
Baby’s often pee when their genitals get cold, so hence the pee attack when you just removed the diaper. You can put a flannel over their genitals while changing so it catches the pee, or you can wipe a wet baby tissue over their lower belly just before you start changing.
Often babies cry just because they’re hungry. You can prevent this by watching their signals and feed them before they cry. Here’s how to catch the right moment:
Some babies vomit more than usual, and they can have a baby issue called reflux. When you sense this might be the case, discuss it with your GP. If your baby screams every time you lay her down on her back, and it’s not gas, she could have silent reflux.
In that case the best option is to discuss this with your GP as well. There are various things you can do yourself, but first you need to have the doctor check where the reflux is coming from.
My son had silent reflux, so we wore him in a baby wrap during the day, and had the mattrass elevated at night. Eventually we eliminated dairy from our diet, and the reflux disappeared.
Dads can sometimes be concerned that they have less chance to develop a bond with their baby than mom. Especially if she is breastfeeding, or dad has to work all day.
Fortunately, there are many ways in which a baby can bond with dad, and this will be so helpful when you really need a break. Here are some examples:
Save yourself and your baby a lot of squirming and drama, and wait till your baby has been sleeping for twenty minutes. I always had a huge problem with seeing where the nails end and the finger begins, but now they have this genius clipper.
Pacifiers keep dropping all over the place, and it’s such a pain having to clean it every time. But this WubbaNub pacifier stays put, and baby stays pacified 😉
When your baby has a common cold, just to put a sliced open onion next to the bed. It will help clear the sinuses and stop coughing.