Perhaps you are (or are going to be) an absolute lover of the newborn phase and it’s your dream to hibernate away with your tiny human for as long as possible. Or, maybe, alternatively you are like me and you’re going to need to be intentional about how to keep yourself sane during the newborn phase. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved my time with my tiny human, and I learned a lot, but I definitely loved it more because I was deliberate about how I spent my time. Surviving those early days will look different for each of us too! Here are my tips for surviving and thriving during those first few months.
#1 Go out every day (or at least every other day)
Even if it’s literally just to pop to the corner shop, or walk a loop round your neighbourhood. Fresh air is so good! Who knows whether it actually helps babies sleep better! I feel like it did but maybe I was just more refreshed?! I don’t love shopping but I I lost count of the number of times I wandered around the local shops. There’s something really good about getting out from inside the four walls surrounding you and your screaming baby!
#2 Shower before your husband leaves
Even if your baby is sleeping and your bed is warm and cosy, get up and have a bath or shower before your partner goes to work. Now, you may be the kind of person who loves being in their pyjamas all day and perhaps that will work for you but for me getting stuck in, unable to get showered stress-free was pretty unappealing. So, I made sure I used the opportunity of a second pair of hands in the morning to get up and get fresh! Sure, sometimes I curled back up in my bed but I was ready to get on with the day when the baby woke up.
#3 Create some sort of routine
We had a baby who quickly demonstrated that he liked routine so I was able to follow his lead but whether or not you’re trying to get your baby into a routine I think it really helps to create some kind of routine for yourself. Even if it’s very simple and you’re just aiming for bath time at 6pm, I think having things to look forward to and to expect really helped make my days feel more manageable.
#4 Make sure to remind yourself that what you’re doing is important
Occasionally when your husband comes home and talks about his day and then you reflect on yours and you feel like you spend most of your day trying to figure out how to sooth your baby, or wiping his soft little bottom, and you can’t figure out what else you did , it’s hard to remember that what you’re doing as a mother is hugely significant. You are raising a child who is completely dependent on you. You are so important, and those cuddles, that love, that attention all mean the world to your little person.
#5 Do whatever you need to do when the baby naps
I was given the advice ‘nap when the baby naps’ over and over again and often I tried to nap when the baby napped but more often than not I ended up stressed as I was lying there awake trying to get to sleep and by the time I finally got sleepy he was awake again! So, my advice is to do whatever will make you feel good when the baby naps. Perhaps it’s washing up your breakfast stuff, watching some TV, sending an email, checking Facebook. I think the important thing is just not to feel guilty that you’re not using the time productively. You get far less ‘me time’ when you’re at home with a newborn so do what you’ve got to do to love yourself and don’t worry about getting things done.
#6 Treat yourself
I’ve never eaten much cake but since becoming a mum my tea and cake intake has seriously upped. Food and drink are a really good way to treat yourself, and a really good thing to look forward to (I have been known for always thinking about when my next meal is coming!) So, get yourself a little cake (or probably a pork pie in my case) and plan to have it in the afternoon with a cup of tea.
#7 Find a good TV series or book for the night feeds
I know some Mums (and health visitors) say you should use every feed to connect and make eye contact with your baby. At first it is hard not stare lovingly at your baby the whole time they feed but the novelty wears off, especially if your baby (like mine) takes forty minutes each feed. Also, during the night I wanted to keep the lights low and not encourage my baby to wake up to much so it was pretty hard to stare lovingly into his eyes in the dark. I worked my way through plenty of series on Netflix and Amazon Prime (with the sound off and subtitles on) and got so into them I was almost disappointed when he finished and I had to stop watching and go back to bed. (Even more disappointed when the newborn phase ended and my TV series watching time got even shorter!)
#8 Get yourself a girl gang
The night is also a really good time for catching up on all your messages and to message people back; the feeling of seeing someone else replying to a whatsapp message at 3am is like no other! Find yourself a group of Mums (or even just one or two) who are going to be the ones you message about all the insignificant (but obviously hugely significant) little things your baby does, who you ask questions to and you moan about your day with. Go on the prowl for friends at your NCT classes, toddler groups, or just out and about locally! I’d also totally recommend Mummy Social. It’s like online dating but for Mums! I’ve made some really great friends through it.
#9 Be honest and don’t be afraid to ask for help
Maybe you will love the newborn phase and totally flourish or maybe you’ll feel like it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Both are totally normal responses. We’re all different, our babies are all different and even though many aspects of motherhood are the same we will have different challenges. If you’re really struggling then that’s ok, chat to your friends, your Health Visitor, your Mum, your Dr, whoever you feel comfortable chatting to. The truth is that often mothers pretend it’s really easy or that they’re loving it all the time because it’s easier that way, but in reality it feels far better to be honest and find friends to share the hard moments with as well as the totally joy filled ones.
What are your tips for surviving the newborn phase?
Or, what did you wish you’d done that you didn’t?