From new mothers, I often hear comments like: “I can’t even have a shower because I don’t know how long she will sleep for.” Or: “It takes so long to get him to sleep that we start cooking dinner at 9 p.m.” If your baby hasn’t yet been born, these sorts of things may sound ridiculous. However, managing your day around a newborn can be a challenge, especially if you’re used to order and punctuality.
Conserving your energy and learning to multi-task are keys to survival in these early days.
Here are some quick tips. I am not advocating a rigid routine but it can be helpful for both you and your baby if you create a gentle rhythm around her needs.
Checklist: Managing your day with a newborn
- 1) Include your baby in your daily tasks. For instance, don’t wait until she is asleep to have your shower. Instead, pop her in a rocker in the bathroom so that you can see each other. She will probably enjoy listening to the water running and the sound of your voice if you sing or chat while you shower.
- 2) Multi task so you can rest when baby sleeps. Carry baby in a baby carrier or wrap as you prepare food or hang out washing.
- 3) Get dressed early in the day – then you will feel at least slightly in control, even if things go pear-shaped later. And you’ll be ready to head out for a walk with your baby if you feel overwhelmed by ‘cabin fever’ or a grumpy baby.
- 4) Plan your day around your baby’s calm times. For example, if she tends to be more content in the mornings, pop her in a pram or carrier and do your shopping then. Or prepare dinner early so that later, if (or when) she has her ‘arsenic hour’, you won’t feel so stressed.
- 5) Create a comfortable ‘headquarters’ for feeding and cuddling.
You will be sitting around an awful lot in the first few weeks, so borrow some good books and DVDs. Set up a feeding basket with healthy snacks (Try Boobie Bikkies, our natural and organic superfood cookies, especially created for breastfeeding mums) to keep you going as well as your book, phone, water bottle, breast pads, pen, notepad, hand cream and whatever else you may need. Then, if you feed your baby in different places (inside or outside), keep your basket handy; this will help you to view feeding time as a nurturing time for you, rather than feeling restless because you are ‘stuck’, focussing on your own hunger and thirst or, even worse, worrying about all the ‘to dos’ that are waiting. The pen and pad (or your phone) are for writing lists of ‘action steps’ for when you have a free moment so that you can prioritise and gain some sense of achievement when you can cross things off later. Remember though, try not to put too many things on your list – there is no emotion worse than disappointment! TIP: delete or delegate things that can wait or be done by others.
- 6) Be kind to yourself -on days when it feels as though you have absolutely nothing to show for your efforts because your baby has been on a feeding marathon or is extra clingy, remember, you are doing an amazing job – you are creating world peace (by teaching your baby about unconditional love). Remember too, the mummy mantra for when the going gets tough – ‘this too shall pass’. It will, I promise, all too soon. So please, be kind to yourself and forget the mess for now, look deeply into those navy blue eyes, breathe in that sweet baby smell and enjoy every delicious cuddle.