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21 Survival Tips for New Moms

Maybe you’re not naive enough to believe that your baby will sleep through the night at 6 weeks. And maybe you even have a fairly realistic view of motherhood. But no matter how happy you are to cuddle your newborn baby, you’ve just gone through one the most jarring changes that you will ever experience. Tears of joy will mix with tears of fear and pain. You will wonder what kind of aliens pose for “Pinterest-mom” pictures and some of the things you looked forward to the most will seem like a distant dream.

I am the least together  Mom of any mom I know. Running my own business from home (with my husband) plus a baby who just would not sleep (save the advice, bring on the sympathy and chocolate, please), plus living in a brand new state with no available options for childcare was a recipe for disaster. Still, I discovered that really little things could give me at least a sliver of hope that life would some day be liveable again.

  1. You might experience separation anxiety the instant your baby isn’t constantly a part of you anymore. Seeing my helpless little baby rock back and forth in a rock ‘n play depressed me, and I hated the music it played. The minute I embraced that my style of parenting would be lots of togetherness and started baby-wearing and co-sleeping, some of the postpartum depression started to lift. You don’t have to co-sleep if it’s not for you, but be as close to your baby as you want to be without worrying about “spoiling” your baby.
  2. Caribou Coffee makes the most bearable sugar-free decaf soy latte. Just in case you, like me, have to cut out both caffeine and dairy for your little one’s sensitive stomach. If you don’t, take your whole milk latte and dance out of my kitchen, please. I don’t need that kind of joy around here.
  3. Everybody tells you to take time for yourself, to spoil yourself a little. But what if you can’t? What if there is simply no money or time. Do the best you can and realize that you’ll find yourself again some day. Think of yourself as a soldier surviving the battle. There will be a homecoming. If you can, do something, no matter how small. One day I commented to a co-worker that I had no time to make tea because I only had 40 minutes to code before my baby woke up. “But that gives you a sense of well-being,” he said. So I started making the cup of tea. Even though it was lame herbal tea.
  4. One of the best ways to nap with a busy crawler who doesn’t want you to be out of their site is to throw a blanket and pillow on the floor and let them snuggle, crawl around on you, and play, all within a close, safe distance from Mommy. My baby was perfectly content if I napped on the floor. (One day I woke up to my baby girl trying to feed me a stick). This nap will help you go the distance in the toughest part of the day, the evening.
  5. Routines rock. If you have family members that like to make every day completely different (like I do), try to make at least part of the day routine. Maybe you always take a stroller walk after breakfast, or maybe you always sing the same song to your baby when she wakes up or goes to sleep. Any little sliver of routine will help you both cope in the most difficult of situations.  Schedules might be hard to swing for some, but routines help you keep your sanity. And when you can’t swing either? Forgive yourself and realize that love is more important than routines and schedules and that there’s always tomorrow.
  6. Listen to your heart! I always regretted it when I didn’t! Sometimes this had to do with waking a sleeping baby to nurse (worst advice ever for my baby–it taught her to wake up often to nurse), sometimes it had to do with food (rice is really not the best first food), but whatever it was, do what you think is right.
  7. This is a good time to minimize and focus in life. What are the most important dreams and goals to you? Now that you have a little human to look after 24/7, you need to decide what is most important to do the 10% of the day you have remaining. I started to give or toss one item away per day to help me achieve minimalism and a house that was easier to clean. I also started writing more.
  8. Don’t feel guilty for still being you, but at the same time, give yourself time to transition. Babies are all-consuming. You might not be able to get back to running, yoga, work, or painting right away. But you will. Some day. And I will, too.
  9. Be thankful. For your family. For cards in the mail. For Facebook comments that brighten your day. For a blog post, that makes you laugh and cry at the same time. For your husband’s help. For being able to afford your favorite laundry detergent, or for the sun, or your baby’s laugh. Make sure you laugh along.
  10. Get outside. The sun will help you so much. Plus, bonus, the sun makes babies happy and sleepy. Who doesn’t want that?
  11. Don’t beat yourself up for not being on schedule. It might take you forever to find what works for you. The more difficult your circumstances, the more this will be true.20160624_205321
  12. Keep something around the house that makes you happy or gives you energy. Blueberries, almonds, bananas. Something healthy and convenient that you can grab right before nursing your baby.
  13. Camelbak bite valve water bottles are awesome for not spilling and for drinking out of at night at an angle while your baby’s still nursing. Drink at least 12 glasses of water a day. I tried for 15 or so.
  14. You’ll make mistakes, and some of them will seem pretty major. Your baby will still love you. I don’t know how they do it, but they do.
  15. Lots of properly balanced B vitamins help for postpartum depression. I prefer X Factor from Plexus, and I also prefer the entire Triplex system to help with energy and mood.
  16. Weleda Calendula Diaper Rash Cream is the best cream ever for the most stubborn rash plus yeast infection (at least for my baby).
  17. The Baby Sleep Book makes good reading material while your baby is keeping you awake. So does The No Cry Sleep Solution. These books might not help your baby sleep, but they do make good reading material.
  18. Whether or not you’re doing things on a schedule, feed your baby when she’s hungry. You’ll both be much happier.
  19. The Lille Baby or some other baby carrier is one of the very best ways to hold your baby and get work done at the same time. I love mine. I still use it and Anneka’s almost a year old. She loves watching everything I do and “helping” me.
  20. Find your village, however slowly. One of my most memorable evenings was when Anneka was five months old and we went to the neighborhood “trunk or treat” event. I realized then that life would be fun again and that Anneka and I both needed other people. Our neighborhood has family friendly events at the park and we’ve made a point to get to these whenever possible.
  21. Stare into your baby’s eyes and tell her you love her, over and over again. Take time to just enjoy your baby, and realize that somehow the world will figure out how to get along without you for a time. Even if it’s just a short time.

 

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