Don’t-Sweat-It Tips for New Parents
Having a baby is one of the most exciting and anticipated moments in a parent’s life. You have prepared the nursery, installed the car seat, read parenting books, and it’s time to bring baby home and start life with a new family member. While having a new baby is a fun time, it can also be exhausting and overwhelming. Adjusting to having an infant at home takes time as you figure out the new normal. What is not worth stressing over while enjoying time with the new bundle of joy?
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It’s nice to have a house that is neat and clean but the thing about housework is that it never goes away. As soon as the house is clean, it’s messy again. While you enjoy the new baby, try to let some of the cleaning go. Do the bare minimum while resting, recovering, and recuperating from birth and spend more time snuggling that newborn.
Immediately after bringing home a baby is not the time to cook elaborate meals, or sometimes, any meals at all. However, eating nutritious meals on a regular schedule is important, so keep it simple. Stock the pantry with items that are quick and easy to eat while caring for the baby. Mom of two Wendy Haviland says, “I prepared freezer meals before the baby was born so I had something to put in the oven or crock pot when I was tired from taking care of a newborn.” Ask friends to set up a meal train where family and friends can bring dinner during the first few days after the birth of a new baby. This will eliminate the need to shop and cook while recovering.
Some warn that holding a baby too much or while sleeping will spoil the baby and prevent the newborn from learning proper sleep habits. This is simply not true. There is no such thing as a spoiled baby. Newborns sleep most of the day and they find great comfort in being held. It also creates a strong bond between parent and child. Enjoy cuddle time and let that worry go.
There is one old saying that is true — “sleep when the baby is sleeping.” This really is the best advice. As a person that likes to keep busy, it can be hard to take naps during the day. Once the exhaustion of being up most of the night nursing or feeding a newborn hits, give yourself permission to take a nap when the baby does. Moms need rest and your body needs time to recuperate after the stress of giving birth.
It can be hard to accept help but with a new baby at home, any help offered can be a huge blessing. Take people up on their offers to bring meals, help with older children’s carpool, or clean the house. Don’t just have them do the easy, quick chores that aren’t difficult to keep up on — let them vacuum the house, do laundry, and wash dishes. While help is around, jump in the shower, take a nap, or run a much-needed errand. People offer to help because they want to. Return the favor when you can.
It can be hard, especially for breastfeeding moms, not to get overtired. As much as possible, share the task of caretaking with a partner. Some moms will find it hard to pass the baby care to their husbands or significant others, but dads often feel left out and want to jump in. He may not do things exactly like you, but that’s okay. As long as the baby is clean, fed and happy there isn’t anything to stress over. This will also give dad time to bond with the baby.
Take a Break
Having a new baby can be physically and emotionally taxing. It is okay to admit you may need a break sometimes. If feeling overwhelmed, schedule a time someone else can take care of the baby and step out of the house for a short while. Breastfeeding moms may find it is hard to get away for extended periods but typically taking a break for an hour or two can do a lot to improve your mood.
When adjusting to having a new baby, it’s important to realize it will take a while to find a routine again. When planning an outing, think ahead. Pack items you might need including extra diapers, clothes for you and the baby, and be prepared to feed the baby on the go, if needed. It’s also important to accept that sometimes an outing will not go as well as planned and it’s okay to head home early. Be flexible and go easy on yourself when it comes to taking the baby out for the first time and when trying to get things done around the house. This is normal and will get easier in time.
Adding a new family member is both exciting and disruptive to a family. In time, everyone will adjust to the newborn and won’t be able to imagine your family without them. In the meantime, give yourself, your spouse, and your other children time to adjust to this big change. It’s okay to let go of some non-essential things and focus on the baby.