Having a baby is one of the most amazing and anticipated moments in a person’s life. You have prepared the nursery, installed the car seat, read parenting books, and it’s time to bring your baby home and start life with a new family member. While having a new baby is a fun and exciting time, it can also be exhausting and overwhelming. Adjusting to having an infant at home takes time and there are several things you don’t need to sweat as you figure out your new normal.
What are some things that aren’t worth stressing over while you enjoy time with your new baby?
It’s nice to have a house that is neat and clean but the thing about housework is that it never goes away. Once you get the house clean, it’s messy again. While you enjoy your new baby, try to let some of the cleaning go. Do the bare minimum while you rest, recover, and recuperate from birth and snuggle your newborn.
Immediately after bringing home a baby is not the time to cook elaborate meals, or sometimes, any meals at all. However, you do need to eat regular and nutritious meals, so keep it simple. Stock the pantry with items that are quick and easy to eat while you care for the baby. Wendy Haviland, mom of two, says, “I prepared freezer meals before the baby was born so I had something to put in the oven or crock pot when I was tired from taking care of a newborn.” You can also ask friends to set up a meal train where family and friends can bring dinner during the first few days after the birth of your baby. This will eliminate the need to shop and cook when you are recovering.
When I first became a mom I was warned that I shouldn’t hold my newborn too much or while he was sleeping because it might “spoil” him, and then he would never sleep in his own bed or let me put him down for a few minutes. This is simply not true. There is no such thing as a spoiled baby. Newborns sleep most of the day and they find great comfort in being held. It also creates a strong bond between parent and child. There is no such thing as sleep training a newborn or spoiling a new baby. Enjoy as much cuddle time as you care to and let that worry go.
One old saying is certainly true… “sleep when the baby is sleeping.” This really is the best advice you will receive. As a person who likes to keep busy, I found it hard to allow myself to take naps during the day. Once the exhaustion of being up most of the night nursing my newborn hit me, I decided to give myself permission to take a nap when my baby does. Moms need rest and your body needs time to recuperate after the stress of giving birth.
It can be hard to accept help when you are used to doing everything yourself, but when you have a new baby at home any help offered can be a huge blessing. Take people up on their offers to bring meals, help with older children’s carpool, or clean the house. Don’t just have them do the easy, quick chores that aren’t difficult to keep up on – let them vacuum the house, do laundry, and wash dishes, which all seem to get behind quickly. While you have help, jump in the shower, take a nap, or run a much needed errand. People offer to help because they want to. You can always pay it forward when you find your new normal.
It can be hard, especially for breastfeeding moms, not to get overtired. As much as possible, share the task of caretaking with your partner. Some moms will find it hard to pass the baby care to their husbands, but dads often feel left out and want to jump in. He may not do things exactly as you do, but that’s okay. As long as the baby is clean, fed, and happy there isn’t anything to stress over. This will also give Dad time to bond with the baby as well.
Take a Break
Having a new baby can be physically and emotionally taxing. It is okay to admit you may need a break sometimes. If you are feeling overwhelmed, schedule a time your spouse or a friend can take care of the baby while you step out of the house for a short while. Breastfeeding moms may find it is hard to get away for extended periods, but typically taking a break for an hour or two can do a lot to improve your mood.
When you are adjusting to having a new baby, it’s important to realize it will take awhile to find your routine again. When planning an outing, think ahead. Pack items you might need including extra diapers, clothes for you and the baby, and be prepared to feed the baby on the go if needed. It’s also important to accept that sometimes an outing will not go as well as planned and it’s okay to head home early. Be flexible and go easy on yourself when it comes to taking the baby out for the first time and when trying to get things done around the house. This is normal and will get easier in time.
Adding a new family member is both exciting and disruptive to a family. In time, you will adjust to your newborn and won’t be able to imagine your family without them. In the meantime, give yourself, your spouse, and your other children time to adjust to this big change. It’s okay to let go of some of the things that take up your time and focus on the baby.
Sarah Lyons is a freelance writer and frequent contributor.