Congratulations. You have just brought home, are about to bring home, or are soon expecting your little one. Especially if it is your first child, those first weeks at home can be overwhelming, and stressful.
It was a big change for me when I brought my son home from the hospital. I was used to a life with my husband where we did what we wanted when we wanted. When the dishes needed to be done, I did them. When I needed my laundry done, I did laundry. When I was invited to the winery with my friends and I had the day off of work, I went to the wineries. I thought I was very busy, until we added a baby to our lives, then I looked at the definition of busy much differently.
You now have a being whose very existence and entertainment relies on you. It is not as simple as laying your baby down in the bassinet while you do the dishes; chances are, he’ll start crying the moment you set him down. Those first few weeks at home with my son, I wondered how I would ever get anything done around the house, and I felt like my freedom was stripped away from me.
So how can you enjoy those first few weeks at home with your newborn?
Give yourself some grace and truly try to enjoy the simple moments with your new baby.
Allow friends and family to help
For the first week or so, I said no thank you to most of my friends and family who offered help. I didn’t want them to think I couldn’t handle it. What I quickly learned from those who wouldn’t accept no for an answer was that they really wanted to help, and I really could use the help.
What I mean by help isn’t by your neighbor holding your baby for a couple of hours while he sleeps; that may actually stress you out more because you could have been getting things done while he slept anyway and if you are like me, you wanted to be holding your baby. If your mother in law, sister, or close friend wants to hold your baby who won’t settle unless being held while you take a shower or take a nap, then yes, accept the help. It’s okay to do some self-care.
Ways friends and family can help:
- Bring ready-made meals
- Do your dishes
- Fold laundry while you chat
- Do an activity with the sibling
- Offer to do the grocery shopping
Take some time for yourself
It will be hard to enjoy your day if you haven’t taken a shower in days, and you feel gross. Even if it is just 20 minutes, ask your partner to watch over your baby while you go recharge, take a shower, or get in a quick nap. It’s not realistic to expect that you will be well-rested; but some help from your partner, you should be able to do a little something for yourself. I felt like a new woman every time I was able to take a shower, shave my legs, and brush my teeth.
Get in some physical activity
I don’t mean go to the gym, you most likely won’t be cleared by your doctor to do that anyway. If the weather permits it, go outside a take a walk. Even if it is just around the block, the fresh air and increased circulation to your legs will make a big difference. If it is too cold, too hot, raining or snowing outside, put on some music and do some dancing around the house; you could even wear your baby while doing this and it will make for some happy newborn memories with your baby.
Wear your baby
While I was pregnant with my son, I researched multiple methods of wearing your baby; I honestly don’t know what got me so excited about the idea, but I am glad I was. Once he was born, and I found my favorite babywearing method, I was able to actually move around the house; I vacuumed sometimes; I easily took him outside to look at nature; I didn’t feel like I was constantly “holding” him, but I kept him close with my hands mostly free.
My son was born in November, so it was cold. I loved the Boba during this time because it was thick, kept he and I warm, and it was soft. Wraps take a bit of a learning curve, but once you learn how to use them, they are great! Once it got warm, the wrap I liked was the Solly Baby wrap; it was thin enough that it allowed airflow, and still gave great support. Once he was older, I fell in love with the Lillebaby Carrier. My husband loved the simplicity of the BabyBjorn. There are so many options, you just have to find the one you like best.
The dishes will still be there tomorrow
This was hard for me. It took until my second baby to accept the idea that my house didn’t need to be spotless every day. I spent too much time stressing about the house being clean, and not enough time having fun with my baby. Life got even more hectic after my second baby, with a toddler, and a newborn. I just started telling myself, the dishes will still be there tomorrow, and this helped me enjoy my days tremendously. I gave myself some grace, not expecting myself to be the perfect “Instagram Mom” who has been home for two days with a newborn, her hair is perfectly curled; her kitchen looks spotless, and her baby is sleeping peacefully in her arms. What my reality became, especially in those first couple of weeks at home with my baby, was a sink full of dishes, piles of laundry that needed to be folded, and me sitting on the couch breastfeeding or cuddling my baby while watching Netflix shows, or reading a book (or googling everything about how to be a mom).
Allow yourselves to be lazy, to adjust, and to bond as a family
This kind of goes along with “the dishes will still be there tomorrow,” but know that it isn’t just you who is going to a lot of changes, it is also your partner, your other children if you have any, and your newborn. The only life he knew was in your womb, and now he’s experiencing his 4th trimester; it’s normal for him to want to be held, to want to nurse or bottle-feed a lot, and to sleep a lot. Spending a lot of time skin to skin with your baby will help him adjust to the world, teaching him how to regulate his breathing, helping him with temperature regulation, helps him regulate his heart rate, and helps you and your partner develop a bond with him.
We have an excellent online newborn course if you are needing more information about how to care for your newborn. The course is all online and is self-paced. Reach out to your local Mama Coach for more information!