If you’re still in the beginning, you may be interested in my Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule: Week by Week. Those first few weeks (months) can be hard, so here are some tips on mentally surviving the newborn phase. And if you’re about to exit the newborn phase and move forward, here is my routine for a 6 month old and my daily schedule for 4 kids 4 years old and under. Post contains affiliate links.
Well I’ve done it. I’ve had 4 babies in just under 4 years and I’ve lived to tell about it. I’ll not say every moment was sunshine and sunscreen, but here I am. Alive to change 3,567 more diapers and say “No, you can’t have mommy’s Diet Coke,” for one more day.
Each mother is different (which is a great thing) and some fare better with different phases than others. I find the newborn phase delightful, but don’t particularly enjoy the early toddler (12 – 24 month) phase. They are all full of challenges and joyous moments, but I believe that many mothers really struggle during the very early days.
Particularly if you’re a first time mom.
And if your baby has days and nights confused.
Or has colic. (in which case this might help)
And you’re having breastfeeding issues.
You know. Life. I think the newborn phase – though stressful – can be one where you lay some great foundations in your new bundle’s life that continue to reap benefits for months and years to come. So, how can you survive and even thrive during this phase? Here are my thoughts.
Read: What to Expect the First Year. Let me just say, that covers the gamut but leaves out some crucial bits. Ha.
1. Start out how you can hold out
My grandmother has always given me wise advice. One of the first things she told me after I had my firstborn was to “start out how you can hold out.” Simply put, don’t start doing things you aren’t willing to keep doing. Now, obviously there are things you do with a newborn you don’t do with a 1 year old. Or conversely, start habits early that you’d like to continue. If you nurse, you may want to know how to get a breastfed baby to take a bottle so you can have some breaks here and there.
However, if you find yourself doing elaborate things to get the baby to settle or you are running around in circles to do simple things, it’s time to step back and weigh, test, and measure. In the sleepless newborn fog it’s easy to do things that don’t make sense. By doing some hard work on the front end you’ll save yourself a lot of stress later and you won’t have to break multiple bad habits.
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2. Work on the sleep
Newborns are going to wake up all night long to feed because they need it. This is unavoidable. However, you can help them develop good sleeping habits from the beginning that will transition naturally into babies who start sleeping through the night and who nap well. It is for your own sanity that both you and your baby get adequate sleep.
The goal is not to deprive them of food so they sleep through the night, but that you create an environment that encourages sleep and helps set your newborn up to be a well-rested baby. And (I’ve got a secret for you) when other people’s 3-month-olds “wake up” and stop sleeping, you’ll have one who goes down for naps without fussing and who sleeps long stretches at night.
3. Get some “you” time
When it’s your first child you will be able to nap when the baby naps. If you already have children and a newborn this doesn’t always play out how you’d like. I do get a 30-45 minute nap daily even with 4 kids at home most days, but I have to fight for it!
Whether you have a family member, neighbor, or babysitter come occasionally, or you just maximize your time, it’s so important to have wind down and recharge time built into your schedule. If you are like me (and you hope you aren’t) then it’s not a luxury to have alone time, it’s a necessity. You may have to move mountains to get it, but it’s worth the effort.
4. Don’t fill your emotional basement
Baby blues and postpartum depression are a reality for many mothers. However, even without those you’ll still be experiencing a myriad of emotions post delivery. New baby means new routine. Older siblings will behave differently while adjusting. You’ll have to figure out how it all fits together. You may feel more frustrated, angry, lonely, or sad than normal.
Whatever you do… don’t just say “oh it’s fine” and ignore it. That will not work out for you. You have something called an emotional basement and during the postpartum period you will be very tempted to fill it. We actually need empty emotional basements, so you must be real with how you’re actually feeling.
5. Let your husband help
If your husband is home then let him help. If he is able to change diapers and bathe the baby or older kids, let him. If he doesn’t volunteer, ask him. If he acts uninterested, pressure him.
Okay I’ll stop dispensing relationship advice, but do ask for help. If your husband works a lot then ask a family member or friend. If you push yourself past the point of coping then you’ll end up having to get help anyway so… swallow your pride and ask.
Find a Better Routine
If you (and your little ones) struggle with routine and sleep, this book is for you. It has over 25+ routines for children ages newborn to 5 years old. Get more information here.
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