Surviving the Start of Parenthood
It’s no surprise that having a new baby at home is exhausting. Not only is it physically draining, but it’s mentally exhausting, as well. Whether this is your first baby or fifth, you can take some specific actions to make the transition with the new baby a little easier.
Get plenty of rest. You’ve probably heard the saying “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” This may seem impossible, especially if you feel that you need that time to be productive in other areas (take a shower maybe?). Instead, pick a time or two during the day that you dedicate to resting. Even if you are unable to sleep, that rest can offer some much needed mind clearing and refocusing. Dim the light and turn off all distractions. If you have other kids at home, ask a neighbor or a family member to take them out of the house for a couple of hours. If leaving the house is not an option for them, arrange a household quiet time. If your older children are still taking a daily nap, this is obviously a little easier. If they are no longer taking naps, then put a movie on for them or suggest a time for quiet play in their room while you close your eyes.
Take time for yourself. It’s no surprise that babies take a lot of time and energy. They are demanding little creatures that need attention, food, and sleep mostly on their schedule, not yours! Every day, take time to do something that you enjoy. Love to read? Grab a magazine or a book and spend 30 minutes with your undivided attention on that. Step outside your home for a walk, a pedicure or get a new mommy hairdo. Don’t think you have an hour or even 30 minutes? Step outside in the sunlight for 10 minutes and receive your daily dose of vitamin D.
Ask for help. While in the hospital, you have a variety of resources at your fingertips. Not only can the nurses show you how to swaddle and bathe your new baby, but often there is a lactation consultant that can help teach you to feed your baby. Don't be afraid to send your baby to the nursery for the night or for a period of time so you can take a nap. Once you take that bundle of joy home, accept the help of your friends and family when they offer. You are not a burden to them; if they offer to help, then they want to help! Jana Keeley, Olathe, says, “Ask your mommy-friend’s advice for this new stage of life.”
Know your emotions. Being happy and laughing one minute and sad and crying the next is a normal response after the arrival of a baby. This change in hormones can last for days or weeks. Be open with your partner, family, friends and yourself. Express any concerns and talk about your feelings. Rachel Rainwater, Fairway, encourages new moms to “embrace the changes and don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts to your husband, because chances are he is probably feeling the same things.”
Don’t sweat the small stuff. A new baby can be overwhelming. Allow yourself to focus on today and today only. There are things that must happen on a daily basis (eating for both you and baby), but there are many things that don’t. Leave the dishes in the sink and the toilets not scrubbed; there is always tomorrow.
Most importantly, enjoy this time! This new baby you just brought home is only a newborn for a short period of time.
Olathe’s Jessica Heine is a happily married mom of a beautiful 3-year-old girl and handsome 11-month-old boy.