Like many first-time mamas, I may have slightly underestimated the amount of work required for taking care of a newborn. I’m a woman who has always seemed to just make things work, no matter the situation. Some may refer to this type of outcome as luck, but I prefer to look at it instead as the outcome of determination, hard work, and maybe even a bit of hardheadedness! I’ve always taken the approach that organization and planning is key to success and I blissfully believed that motherhood would be no different.
During these early months though I’ve learned a very important, perhaps obvious lesson – babies don’t like to be put on a schedule. How silly was I to think that mothers made the rules when newborns are clearly the ones in charge? This lack of routine has been a doozy to accept for someone as type-A as myself, but over the past eleven weeks I’ve learned to adapt and accept that I can still have a plan as long as I’m okay when the plan changes. Here’s what I’ve found so far to stay strategic and sane with a newborn!
Start with a Plan
Although said plan is highly likely to change, beginning the day with an intentional routine will at least help you feel a little more in control of your schedule. During the first six weeks or so I really just tried to take each moment at a time, literally striving to just survive some days. This was pretty expected considering I was still recovering from a c-section while learning to care for a newborn. If everyone simply woke up healthy and went to bed in one piece I felt like I was not only doing, but exceeding at my job.
However, when I had no plan at all, I found myself becoming more and more frazzled throughout the day. By midway through the second month or so, the new mom ‘fog’ began to lift and I recognized that our days needed some sort of strategy tactic. I started creating a plan the night before so I would at least have a place to start the following morning. The typical ‘plan’ for Jack goes as follows:
- Wake up, diaper change, nursing session, cuddle time, play or music or story time, tummy time, cuddle time again, nap, repeat…
I then get as much crammed into his nap times as I can, including:
- Shower, have coffee and eat breakfast during nap number one
- Blog, write, edit and email through nap number two
- Do household chores during nap number three
- And a fourth nap (if it happened) would give me time for making dinner, doing dishes and completing anything else that I missed earlier in the day
Give Yourself Grace
Although there have been many days when I get a lot done, I am quick to admit there are also times when nothing gets accomplished except for taking care of Jack. When I say taking care of – I strictly mean feeding, changing, rocking, etc. No tummy time, music or reading time certainly happens on some days. That’s just my reality now as a new mama! There are days he won’t nap at all, when I literally feel like I nurse him or pump and bottle feed constantly, and when all he wants to do is be held and cuddled. Ladies, those days are tough! There are evenings my husband comes home from work and dinner is leftovers again, I haven’t showered all day, and Jack and I are both curled up in bed with him crying while I want nothing more than to join in on the wailing.
Have a Healthy Distraction
When I feel like the day is going nowhere fast though, I’ve found the best medicine for a weary heart and mind is a little fresh air. I round up the gang and we head out the door for a walk. Sometimes it’s as little as 15-20 minutes, and other times we’ll walk for 45-60 minutes or until we feel refreshed and at peace. While walking I’ll pray, sing to myself or to Jack if no one else is around, call my mom or a girlfriend to chat, or simply enjoy the silence. I recognize that some babies don’t like stroller walks one bit, but I’ve been grateful that a walk really relaxes my son and helps put him to sleep. Then when we get back home, I let him continue sleeping while I get things on my to-do list done. In our house, walks offer a much clearer mind and fresher perspective on my life and blessings. The trick is to find what works at your home, for you and your baby. And that my friends is truly the greatest plan of all.