Even for a mama who has had a few children, surviving the newborn phase can be hard at first. Here are some areas of Mommy-survival that I’ve been focusing on over the last week and a half since Gabriel was born.
I love my sleep. Unfortunately, my babies tend not to be too considerate in this area.
Even though it’s only been about 6 months since I’ve had to really get up in the night for Josiah, and even though I was waking up a lot in the night while pregnant, there’s a difference between waking up and staying in bed or making a 1-minute trip to the bathroom and waking up and having to stay awake for 20-30 minutes (or more) with a newborn while you change a diaper, feed him, change the diaper again because they pooped immediately after eating, then feed him again or rock him to sleep because they woke up while you assaulted them with a cold wet wipe.
Everyone says “sleep when baby sleeps” and I think that’s great advice. It’s just usually not possible unless your older kids are in school or this is your first baby.
However, I also know that I am much more sane when I am rested. I’ve been blessed this time because my husband has been able to take 2 weeks off of work instead of just one. Being able to sleep in has helped a lot. To conserve my energy, I’ve also been doing less in a day than I normally would. We have had a few church families bless us with meals, and we’ve been preparing quick and easy meals the nights that’s we cook. We also budgeted for a couple nights of ordering in. We do have a few meals in the freezer, but I’m saving those for when my husband is back at work.
Grab your rest where you can find it. Lay down on the couch with the kids to watch a movie, or maybe even see if a friend or family member can take the kids for a walk while you and the baby snooze for a 1/2 hour. If you’re anything like me, getting some extra rest will enable you to handle frustrating or trying situations (like toddler tantrums or big, sticky the-jam-jar-fell-out-of-the-fridge messes) much more calmly than if you’re totally exhausted. On the days that you are running on fumes, just worry about the bare minimum. If the kids are happy, clean(ish) and fed, you’re doing OK.
It’s important to get some newborn cuddle time in as you bond with your new baby, but it’s equally important to spend some extra quality time with the older children, as well.
My kids are all pretty young; my eldest just turned 5 barely a month ago. He and Annabel (3.5 years) do understand that a baby needs a lot of care and attention, but that doesn’t mean that they are able to handle it maturely. Really, they’ve done a great job. However, I have noticed that they are asking me if I can play with them more often than usual and that there have been some more bad attitudes and shorter fuses than usual.
Josiah is at a totally different level; he doesn’t understand why Mommy is so busy with this noisy squirmy bundle and he’s been having a really tough time sharing me so much. Since he doesn’t have many words yet, his frustrations are expressed with tears and tantrums.
So it’s been important for all of our sanity’s sake that my husband and I make sure to spend some extra one-on-one time with each of the kids.
We’ve also been making sure to let the kids cuddle up with Gabriel often too, to encourage them to nurture this new sibling relationship.
There are so many other things I could go on about, but that would make for a REALLY long blog post. Here’s the short-version, though.
Take care of yourself. Eat lots of fruits and veggies, drink lots of water (especially if you’re nursing) and maybe even take a few extra minutes in the shower to relax a bit.
Connect with your spouse. It’s easy to worry about the kids all day and not really connect with your husband. Make sure to fit some marriage-time into your day.
Escape if you need to. Being a Mommy can be overwhelming even without a newborn in the picture. Go for a walk (fresh air does wondrous things for a tired body), grab a cup of coffee, or even just chat with a friend on the phone for a bit.
Connect with God. Make sure to spend some time in prayer and in the Bible. This is one area that I really struggle with; I have a hard time keeping in the habit of Bible reading. But I do find that if I make the extra effort to spend some time with God in a day, that my overall attitude benefits.
Enjoy your baby. Even when you’re up in the night and wishing you could be asleep, thank God for this little life and enjoy your squishy little baby! This change of perspective saved my sanity when Josiah was waking up 6-8 times a night until he was over 12 months old.
Do you have any survival tips for moms with new babies? Please share them in the comments, or link to a blog post if you have one!