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