New Mom Survival Guide
Everyone prepares you for pregnancy. Your first scan and pregnancy announcement are barely done with and you already have a pile of pregnancy books at your bedside. You read the books, you talk to your friends about their pregnancies, you download the week by week pregnancy app, and even if you tried to avoid it, you receive every possible advice about pregnancy, from anyone who has been through it or has considered it.
Funnily no one really prepares you about what you should do after the baby comes. Been there, done that. I read more than one book about pregnancy, voiced all my concerns to my doctor about labour and delivery. But what I didn’t do was read or learn anything about what to do once the baby came.
Nap schedules, feeding charts, changing diapers, burping the baby, I didn’t know much about anything, until after the baby came. Needless to say, I didn’t really find much time to learn about it when I was dozing off by default every free minute I got. You can’t have everything under control and have every plan go your way, but here are some things you can do anyway to smoothly get through those first few weeks of mommyhood
Ask for it, take it when someone offers you any and if no one does, ask for it again. Having help especially in the first few days is crucial, so it doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed by it all. It can be any amount of help in any way. If dad can change the baby, let him, if your friend can pick up your groceries, go ahead, neighbours want to drop off a meal? great. It doesn’t have to be an extra pair of hands at your beck and call all day (although that would just be welcome) but get any help you can and take any help you’re offered.
Organize, organize, organize
Do it while you can; before the baby arrives. In every way, you can. Taking some time to organise, while at the same time not going into organisation obsession, can make the new mommy days quite enjoyable and under control. Organise the baby’s clothes size-wise, get some cupboard/table organisers to keep the baby’s diaper paraphernalia handy and create a rough routine that works around the baby’s schedule that gives you time for yourself and other household jobs. (Never mind this schedule will need updating every week). If you have a pet, organize for someone who can take them for walks or board them for when you’re at the hospital popping out a baby. Freezer friendly meals and weekend meal prep can make daily cooking so much easier. With my first baby, a notorious catnapper who woke up on the dot of 23 minutes, I soon realised I could beat Jamie Oliver’s then-popular show 30 Minute meals. A checklist can help, and a notice board on your fridge will come in handy when your new mom brains kick in. Organizing is EVERYTHING.
Take a little time off for yourself
This is easier said than done, but you have to try. One of the biggest changes new motherhood can bring is how rapidly your old self and life can wane into thin air. While it might be hard to plan a ladies night out just yet or step out for brunch with the family right away, making the effort to have some “Me Time” will make a world of difference. Get dad to watch the baby while you enjoy a shower that can last more than 180 seconds, step out for a short walk, paint your nails, read a book (How To Sleep Train Your Baby might seem like a good choice right now) walk your dog, call a friend, savour a cup of coffee, but do it. Once the bay comes, it seems almost unavoidable that you focus all your energies on the little one’s needs, but trust me, you’ll be a calmer, non-zombie and better-balanced mom only when you take care of yourself first. Also, this is true for life, and not just for the newborn phase.
Everyone tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps. Clearly, they didn’t have a baby or a house to take care of, because if you sleep whenever the baby sleeps (16-18 hours the first few weeks) who is going to do all the other work? But sleep, you must. While you probably can’t afford to sleep 18 hours like the baby nor will you need to, because you live in the real world where there’s laundry and cooking to be done, yourself and a house to take care of, please sleep when you can. Keep that phone away during night feeds, it’s a big sleep killer. Try and get at least one good stretch of sleep during the night. If your baby is on the bottle, get dad to take care of some night feeds. Throw in a power nap at noon, skip Netflix for a bit (you can catch up on the latest season of Working Moms later) and avoid late nights until you and the baby are sleeping better. Good sleep will leave you feeling more energized and calmer to take on a new day of a new baby.
Be kind to yourself
Before you actually have a baby, you envision yourself as a TV perfect mom. Hair tied up neatly, dressed in adorable nursing wear, calm, serene and a baby who sleeps like one. All in control. While that might just be you on some days, other days may not be as smooth sailing. You’ll probably have days when your house looks like a hurricane swept through it, or times your baby won’t stop crying, or when you struggle to make time for a shower. You might feel overwhelmed some days, especially if your baby decides to stay up all night or just be in the mood to poop every waking hour. Be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can. You’re a good mom. It will get better. Every new mom has felt like you are right now at some point in time. You couldn’t be prepared for it all but it’s going to be okay.
There’s much you can do to make the first few days of new mommyhood seem a bit in control, but nothing can really prepare you for it all. There will be little stumbles, lots of learning on the way, some sleepless nights (quite literally) and some tough days thrown in between all the perfect ones. But always remember you are doing your best. You got this MOM!
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