Thomas is now almost 5 months old. It feels like we've survived and that life is starting to get a lot easier. Sure our baby certainly doesn't sleep through the night (try often waking more than 10 times for brief periods), but we're in a groove that works for our family. This is how we survived. If you have a new baby or are expecting, these tips might work for you.
For the first few weeks...
- Keep the blinds drawn in your entire house. As Thomas was born in the summer, it was bright and sunny all the time, but by keeping it dark inside, we were more easily able to nap and go to bed early or sleep in when possible. However, accept that the old advice of "sleeping when the baby sleeps" is challenging and probably won't happen. You will be tired, but eventually you'll get used to being tired and soon won't even know that you're tired (this is the state we're living in now).
- Make or ask someone to make a few big batches of food to enjoy. My mom made us a large lasagna and we ate it for every meal for the first week home. Did it get boring eating the same meal over and over? No, it was amazing to not have to think about food for the first bit. From now on I will be giving friends food or gift certificates for take out for the first few weeks as a shower or baby welcoming present.
- Go for walks. Getting outside was what kept us sane. We'd run into friends and neighbours on the street and chat for a few minutes. Your baby will likely sleep in their stroller (especially if you have one with a bassinet attachment) and you'll get a chance to retain some of your "old life".
- Cry. Let it out. You'll probably be feeling overwhelmed. I was and crying helped. Normally by supper time every night I'd be in tears. I let them fall and accepted that this is a normal and healthy transition. It gets so much easier and life will be beyond wonderful.
- Ask for help. In assessing my experience, this is when I found things challenging. For the first month, baby nursed (every 1.5 hours for up to 45 minutes at a time!) and slept. At that time it was very helpful to have people around to spell me off between feedings so that I could eat and shower.
- Buying yourself an expensive pair of jeans. I live in my $200 jeans. Wearing something that makes me feel good about myself is worth far more than those $200. You'll be dressing super casual but that's no reason to succumb to feeling frumpy.
- Always taking a shower. It wasn't until month 4 that I occasionaly started skipping showers (and then only when I had great second day hair that I knew I couldn't replicate in the ten minutes maximum I have during the week to ready myself for the day).
- Putting your baby's bouncy chair in the bathroom and taking a bath. With the fan on, the white noise will likely keep them calm. If not, your bath might be cut short, but you'll enjoy even those 5 minutes of soaking to be sure.
- Finding other moms and dads in the same boat. Playgroups, at least for newborns, are about social interaction for the moms and parents. I've found so much comfort in my chats with other new moms.