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You Have a New Baby! Now How Do You Keep Your Sanity?!

Jul16

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Congrats! You had a baby! Now what on earth do you do with him or her all day? Being a new parent is amazing, exhausting, overwhelming and yes, I’ll say it… it can be a bit boring. I just gave birth to my 5th child last month, so here are 10 tips on how to enjoy your new babe to the max and even escape with your sanity. Well, some of it.

1. Go to A Class, Any Class

You will go bonkers unless you find some stuff for you and your baby to do. It’s way too early for you to do Soul Cycle together.  But there are activities for even newborns. Try finding a Mommy & Me yoga class where you can do yoga while your baby stares at you happily. Or sometimes unhappily. Or try an infant massage class. There are free activities too! Like a breastfeeding support group or libraries often have free music and singing classes geared toward little ones. Your local YMCA may also offer free baby classes with your membership. I know it’s hard to leave the house when you are worried about the feeding schedule but trust me, you can give a bottle or breastfeed anywhere. I once breastfed both my twins with my car safely pulled over on the side of the highway. Enough said.

2. Walk off the Baby Weight

Whether you like the Ergo, the stroller or some other infant carrying device, plop your kid in it and start walking. Babies love fresh air and the exercise will make you feel better. A skim mocha latte can be your reward after you have conquered the streets. If your baby starts to cry, give him or her time to settle. Or sometimes you can hold him for a few blocks and then put him back in the stroller.

3. Join a Mom’s Group or Start One

When I first had a baby, I knew no one locally that had a newborn. This was a problem. Because I was very lonely. Babies are quite cute but they are terrible conversationalists. So I went to a Mommy & Me yoga class (see #1) and at the end I stood up and announced I was starting a mom’s playgroup – anyone who was interested should give me their email address. Every mom in that room joined.  Each week, a different mom would host the playgroup at their place and another mom would bring snacks. The babies play with each other.  They just rolled around a bit. But the group was a lifesaver. I mean, who else is going to listen to you talk about pacifiers for 45 minutes? Eight years later, I am still friends with those moms.

4. Take a Shower

There is probably one loud baby between you and a refreshing shower. Babies love to be held. Constantly. And it’s impossible to shower while holding a baby. But a shower will make you feel oh so much better. Set up the bouncy seat right in the bathroom (on the floor where you can see him), put your baby in it for 10 minutes and get clean. You can even sing and talk to her while you’re showering. Yes, she may cry but it’s alright. Your baby will be okay and you’ll get all that spit up off you. It’s worth it.

5. Find a Great Pediatrician

With your first baby, you will constantly fear that there is something very wrong with your child. He’s sleeping too much. He’s sleeping too little. He doesn’t smile. He never cried in the hospital and now it’s nonstop. You want a pediatrician who you can call in your craziest, most anxious-filled minutes and she will give you calm, helpful advice without making you feel like an idiot.

6. Me Time

Remember all that time you had to yourself before the baby? You still need some of it. Make sure you hire a sitter or line up a family member, so you can have a little time to yourself. And then don’t spend it scrubbing the bathroom (unless that’s your passion, like Monica from Friends). Do what you really want to do – grab drinks with friends (you can pump and dump if needed!), go see a movie, take a nap, workout alone, eat chocolate croissants, whatever will recharge you and make you feel like yourself again.

7. Ready-To-Go Meals

At some point, you will find yourself standing at your counter, eating a jumbo bag of baked potato chips for dinner.  This is a sad moment. If possible, cook some meals and freeze them before you have the baby. Also, ask a friend to organize meals for you in lieu of baby gifts. She can send out an email to your close friends and set up a schedule for them to deliver meals (bought or made with love) to you twice a week. [Update: look into Meal Train, which we have heard is a great way for friends to organize meals after your baby's birth].  Finally, if you live in a big city, you can also get meal delivery through Delivery.com or Seamless.com.

8. A Stocked DVR

With each child, I can remember exactly what I watched while I was nursing them during the middle of the night. Whether you are nursing or bottle-feeding, you need something enjoyable to watch. So whether it’s The Kardashians or Sex and the City reruns, make sure they are ready to go on your DVR. If you ignore this advice and end up watching Two and a Half Men at 3 am, don’t blame me.

9. Sleep

Whenever you can. There is a reason everyone advises you to sleep when the baby sleeps. I know it can be hard to do when your home looks like a pigpen and you haven’t done your own laundry in 3 weeks, but you need to get rest. Shut your eyes when the baby falls asleep and don’t open them until you hear him cry. Plus you can always do laundry when the baby does laundry. Babies do laundry, right?!

10. Cut Yourself Some Slack

Yes, your newborn son will pee on his face (and/ or yours) despite your best efforts to prevent this from happening.  And at some point, you will find yourself somewhere far from home with poop going up your baby’s back and no diaper bag handy. And yes, you will do something like inadvertently lock your husband in the basement because you are that tired. But guess what? So has every other parent. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This parenting thing is a work in progress. And I promise, you are doing great.

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About the author

Kelcey Kintner

http://www.mamabirddiaries.com/
Kelcey Kintner writes the humor blog, The Mama Bird Diaries and co-founded the cheeky advice site, The Mouthy Housewives. This Columbia Journalism School graduate also drives a gold minivan because you can't fit five kids on a Vespa. An award winning journalist, she still secretly longs to be an Olympic ice skater. You can follow her on Twitter @mamabirddiaries.


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15 Responses to “You Have a New Baby! Now How Do You Keep Your Sanity?!”

  1. Hi, I'm Natalie. Jul 16 at 8:45 pm Reply Reply

    Um. “And it’s impossible to shower while holding a baby”?? I showered with my kids starting when their umbilical cords fell off at around 1 week. My oldest had probably only taken a bath about a dozen times before her third birthday because it was so much easier to take her in the shower with me – and she loved it!

    (For the editors – I assume it should have been ReadY-To-Go Meals? :)

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Jul 16 at 8:53 pm Reply Reply

      thanks, eagle eye Natalie! it’s fixed. ;)

      • Kelcey Kintner
        Kelcey Jul 17 at 12:14 am Reply Reply

        Love this and I’m intrigued! How do you wash your hair while holding a baby? Or shave your legs?

        • Isabel Kallman
          Isabel Jul 17 at 12:28 am Reply Reply

          Natalie, you used duct tape, didn’t you? 
          http://thumbpress.com/15-pictures-of-how-not-to-parent-your-kid/duct-tape-baby/

        • mona Jul 17 at 12:43 am Reply Reply

          you get the baby to wash your hair. it helps develop motor skills!

        • mm Jul 19 at 9:32 pm Reply Reply

          um, i’m intrigued by the suggestion that anyone would attempt to use a razor at the same time as holding an infant. obviously you don’t shave your legs holding a baby. plenty of women wax their legs, or don’t bother. and you wash your hair before you take the baby in. or take turns holding baby with your partner. that’s what we did.

  2. Creed Jul 17 at 9:02 am Reply Reply

    I think #’s 2 & 8 were a big help to both my wife and I. It helps to have a support group, and sometimes from people you don’t know in real life. And it always helps to have some sort of entertainment for those late nights when one or both of you are up:)
    Great post.

  3. Ally Jul 17 at 5:18 pm Reply Reply

    Can you give me advice on transitioning to a fourth? I’m 7 months pregnant with baby #4 and feeling a tad overwhelmed. I loved play groups and classes when my first two were born, but things are going to be so so busy this time. My oldest will start kindergarten the same month this baby will be born and my other two will be in preschool. I’ll spend most of my days shuffling them around to school and activities. 

    • Kelcey Kintner
      Kelcey Jul 18 at 12:21 am Reply Reply

      All this stuff goes out the window when you are on your 4th. The baby will pretty much just go along for the ride! You will just be hoping to sneak in a few moments of quiet time with your babe. I just had my 5th and when my husband gets home, I often go out for a walk with the baby in the bjorn. It keeps him from being fussy at the witching hour, gives me some exercise and gives us a little alone time! Good luck with your pregnancy.

  4. Kathleen Jul 18 at 12:54 am Reply Reply

    I’ve showered with both my kids. With the first I thought he’d break if I left him out on the floor, so yes, I somehow washed my hair while holding a slippery infant (no idea how, now!). With my second, I’d bring him in with me, get him clean, then swaddle him in a towel, put him on the floor and talk to him through the glass while I finished showering. Worked great until he got more mobile! Now, he’s a walking 1 year old and just stands in the shower with me.

    However: I still work for some alone shower time. None of these options are all that relaxing, just cleansing.

  5. Britt Jul 18 at 6:54 pm Reply Reply

    The thing I really didn’t get until several weeks (okay, months) in, was that it’s actually okay to put our baby down to make a sandwich. Even if they protest! No one benefits from a half-starved mommy. So when you run out of perfectly prepped ahead meals, feel free to take 5 minutes to get something other than a granola bar down your throat. Somehow I had in my mind that my baby needed to give me permission to set her down to eat, ha! I seriously would go the entire time my husband was at work afraid to set her down to eat. This is mortifying in retrospect, but I am a fairly normal person, so I can’t believe that I’m the only one!

    • Myriam Jul 22 at 2:00 pm Reply Reply

      I’m a Type 1 diabetic, and once I’ve given myself my insulin, everything but the food has to wait. I really is too dangerous to risk hypoglycemia and end up in a coma! I became a master of eating while breast-feeding (I’d put a napkin over her head in case I dropped some food), and my daughter learned to be patient if I was eating. I learned early that I could finish eating even if she was crying!

  6. MARY Jul 19 at 1:21 am Reply Reply

    omg BRITT…thank you for saying that… one hungry mama to another…

  7. Rebecca Aug 12 at 2:17 pm Reply Reply

    Wonderful advice, especially the part about the stocked DVR. Watched the first 4 seasons of Breaking Bad while nursing, and it kept me sane. But, I would like to point out that there is no need to pump and dump unless you are engorged and uncomfortable. This is a common misconception that I think holds ladies back when they are new mamas.
    http://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/lifestyle/alcohol/

  8. Erin Jun 22 at 1:31 pm Reply Reply

    The summer I had my baby, I canned and froze the produce from a big garden. (She napped a lot, and she’s a easy baby anyway.)

    It is harder with a first baby because you don’t want to make her cry, but it really doesn’t hurt to put them down so you can take a shower and eat. One thing I learned while working as a nurse (pre-baby) was that if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy you need to take care of anyone else. That goes double for a baby, who wakes you up three times per night, every night.

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