You are busy preparing for the day your newest little bundle will arrive. The nursery is ready, the baby shower is just around the corner, and you are all aglow.
Or perhaps you are already enjoying the snuggles and sweet moments with your infant! There is already spit up in your hair, the joy of extreme fatigue and mood swings, and an insatiable appetite for chocolate. (Ok, maybe that’s just me.)
Life with a newborn is a beautiful experience, but it is also very challenging. It’s important that we make the most of our time and keep our priorities in mind if we are going to really enjoy this season. So, ladies, it’s time for a reality check and a little preparation!
1. Accept Reality
Babies are beautiful and precious! But let’s face it, the reality of life with an infant means that after the baby is in your arms, you will see plenty of spit up, meconium (hello000… black tar poo?), followed closely by the lovely mustard seed poo. Your whole life has become about bodily fluids. Your sweet baby will be covered with acne and will snort and toot like nobody’s business. And don’t forget, after the baby bump there is discomfort, lumpy bras, leaky breasts, awkward clothes, changing hair and skin, fatigue, and headaches.
And it’s all worth it. It really, really is. In the midst of it all there is still somehow perfection. Just be mentally prepared for the reality that your life will not be a stock photograph or a pinterest spread, and you can enjoy yourself!
(Public service announcement: you will not fit into your pre-pregnancy pants upon leaving the hospital. Bring the big pants and remember: there was a whole baby in there!)
2. Slow Everything Down
If you are like me, even with baby number five you will have these visions of getting so much done and bouncing back like you just had your nails done rather than giving birth. (If you are one of those that actually do bounce back like that… shhhh. I don’t want to know.)
No matter what you imagine life will be like, do yourself a favor and intentionally slow down. Clear your schedule. Add an extra hour to every coming and going. Minimize everything and even use some *gasp* convenience items, such as paper plates and utensils, freezer meals, and take out. Make life as slow and simple as possible and you will have that much more sanity.
3. Take Care of Yourself
If you don’t take care of yourself the whole world will fall apart. At least, that’s how it will feel to you and probably your family too. Please take care of yourself. Take showers and get dressed. Sleep when they sleep, or at least rest a little.
Find a way to steal away for a break – coffee, a good book, or just hide in the bathroom with your iPhone (not that I’ve ever done that, mind you). Eat good food as best you can, drink plenty of water. Let in the fresh air! These things are important too.
4. Accept All Help
Unless the person offering help really is certifiable, then accept it! Pretty much everybody knows that if they offer to bring my family a meal I will accept faster than they can say “casserole.” If people you trust offer childcare, take it!
If someone wants to know how to help, give them a list. Most people just really, really want to help. We genuinely want to serve others and bless them with practical gestures, and it is kind of disappointing if they always say no when we offer. If someone genuinely wants to help, offer some suggestions.
Here are some ideas:
- Play board games with your kids while you nurse, shower, or sleep
- Bring a dinner, breakfast, or even convenient snacks or plasticware
- Grab a few things at the grocery store when you can’t get out
- Drive you to an appointment while your husband gets a break
- Bring you some thank you cards and help you stamp and address them
- And much more!
5. Remember It’s Just a Season
This too shall pass. All too quickly, actually. However, it’s a good thing to remember when the baby is unconsolable or you just need to sleep and can’t seem to get 10 minutes. When your anxiety gets the best of you, remember that soon it will be over and just a memory.
Say it with me: “This too shall pass.” There you go.
6. Have More Grace
Have more grace for others. Your loved ones are likely doing the best they can. When my husband is home on leave for a new baby I have to remind myself that we will get on each other’s nerves occasionally. My husband and I have an uncommonly happy and fun-filled marriage. But we still annoy each other sometimes. Sometimes we say the wrong thing or neglect to do the right thing, because we are people. It’s a time to flex our grace muscles.
Have more grace for YOU! Despite what you may feel at the moment, you are not a bad mom, wife, or human being. You are not fat and ugly. You are not an epic failure because you had a postpartum-induced internal meltdown. You are a beautiful creation of God who just had a WHOLE BABY come out of them. Remember? You are the entire world to this one precious soul in your arms. You are wonderful, even when you don’t feel like it.
(One more tip: if the baby is unconsolable and you’re about to freak out, just make sure they’re in a safe place and find a quiet place to hang out until you’re level. Play Words With Friends or clean the grout. Whatever. It’s the best way to help both of you.)
7. Take All Advice With a Grain of Salt
Know now that everybody will have an opinion about everything relating to you and your baby. It’s crazy-making, really. Whether it’s breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding, pacifiers, co-sleeping, baby wearing, vaccinations, or even the texture of their poo… someone stop the madness!
Just remember to take everything with a grain of salt. Maybe some sugar, too, lest you bite their heads off. Be as objective as possible and make the best decision you can with the prayers and research you put into it. Someone will always be unhappy with at least one of the decisions you make. It’s going to be ok.
8. Don’t Compare
Along those same lines, it can be far too easy for us moms to compare. We look at Suzy Q and how she’s already at her pre-pregnancy weight and making cupcakes three days after delivery. How quaint. We see those stock photos and pinterest spreads and then look disdainfully at our messy home and rumpled hair. Personally, I put pictures of my reality on Instagram. You wouldn’t believe how refreshing people will find your messy bed!
There is something to be said for excellence, but I’ve learned that comparing ourselves to others will always put us in a bad place. If possible, find a kind and more experienced mom to help encourage and coach you through transitions.
Do NOT allow others or yourself to convince you that you need to be like so-and-so to be a good enough mom. It’s a lie. Focus on the truth: that this baby was given to you by the Father above, and pray for the wisdom and guidance that will help you be the mom He designed you to be.
9. Invest in Your Marriage
As much as the world is turned upside down with a new baby, you can’t neglect your marriage. Your family is only as strong as your marriage is. This is a volatile time for everyone, and one of the best things you can do is to give your husband proper priority.
Make time for a regular date night. If nursing, take the baby with you and find a sitter for the other kids. When the baby is asleep, spend time together just enjoying each other’s company. Watch a movie, read a book, or play a game. Especially in these weeks when you cannot be intimate, finding ways to connect is important.
10. Savor This Time
This will be over before you know it. Snuggle that baby! Play with their fingers and toes. Take so many pictures it looks like stop motion. Write in a baby book or at least jot down some milestones. Share these beautiful moments with your loved ones and enjoy it, mama!
What other tips would you add to the list?