12 Tips for Surviving Life with a Newborn
Now that my third baby is two months old, I’ve been thinking about what exactly it is that makes the newborn stage so challenging yet so wonderful at the same time. Call me crazy, but if I could turn back the clock and go through the birth and first two months again, I would in an instant. I know it’s cliché, but the time really does go by so fast.
That being said, there are many, many things about the first few weeks of parenthood that are so. not. easy. I’ve thought through what helped me get through the past two months with my sanity (mostly) intact and came up with these 12 Tips for Surviving Life with a Newborn.
I know. You’re thinking, really? Don’t you think I would if I could? When you sleep may be out of your control right now, but try to squeeze sleep in whenever you can. Go to bed early or take a nap when baby is napping. This can be harder to do when you have older kids, but when my third was born, I tried to at least fit in a nap on the weekends when my husband was home.
2. Make middle-of-the-night feedings manageable.
During the first few weeks of my little one’s life, I found myself feeling sad and overwhelmed once the nighttime drew near. I realized that a big part of why I would feel this way in the evenings was the thought of the sleepless night to come. While nothing can make waking up every few hours with a newborn easy, I did find a few things that helped. Give yourself something to look forward to during those middle-of-the-night feedings, such as a snack and time browsing Facebook or Instagram on your phone. It helps to have a special nursing area where you can lay out everything you’ll need – a few burp cloths, a water bottle, a snack, your phone.
3. Accept help from others.
You cannot do it all right now. Take those meal offers, and those offers to help fold laundry or clean. If you have older kids and a friend or relative is willing to take them to the park or library for a while, let them. People offer to help for a reason – they want to.
4. Have a sense of humor.
When you’re in the middle of a 2a.m. diaper blowout (or a “poopy adventure” as I like to call it. Ha.), there’s not much you can do besides clean that baby up and laugh about it. Often as parents we have the choice between getting frustrated or keeping a smile on our face. I’m trying to choose the smile.
5. Don’t stress. (Or stress as little as possible.)
I remember when my first was born, any little noise she made when she was sleeping made me think she was going to wake up and start screaming. I’d be trying to get something done and totally stressing that I wouldn’t finish in time. The first time around, you’re constantly worrying about what the baby is going to do next. Try to accept that sometimes things won’t go exactly as planned and that it’s really okay if baby has to fuss for a few minutes while you get that chicken in the oven or help big brother with the potty.
6. Make super easy meals.
Think slow cooker meals, bean and cheese burritos, pasta and marinara… This is not the time to test out your gourmet cooking skills. You will get back into the kitchen if that’s what you love, I promise! If you can, stock your freezer before baby arrives. You will be so glad to have nutritious meals ready with very little effort.
7. Write things down.
When your mind is foggy from those new mom hormones and lack of sleep it can be hard to keep track of even the simplest things. Make lists. Get a cute notebook where you can keep track of your life. Use the notes app in your phone to write things down when they pop into your head. Mommy brain is a very real thing.
8. Don’t set your expectations too high.
Choose one or two simple things on your list to accomplish each day. Some days all you might get done are brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and taking care of baby. In the beginning weeks, that’s a great day! It‘s okay. The things that really need to get done will get done eventually.
9. Get out of the house.
I’m a total homebody. Even so, I feel like a new person when I make myself get dressed (in real clothes, not yoga pants), put on makeup, and go out for an errand or a walk. Let your spouse or another family member take care of baby while you go out for coffee or to the grocery store. It’s amazing how a solo trip to the store can refresh your outlook on things. A short walk can also do wonders for your mood.
This one wasn’t hard for me at all. I love food and know what happens to my mood when I don’t eat. So just as I make sure to feed my baby when she’s hungry, I also grab a snack for myself when I need one. If you’re breast-feeding you’re probably going to be extra hungry. Have easy, healthy snacks on hand like apples, cheese sticks, granola bars, and nuts.
11. Don’t worry about getting your pre-baby body back.
At least not now. This is the time to enjoy your baby and just be kind to yourself. The days for getting back into your fitness routine will come soon enough. For now enjoy a free pass to eat healthy foods that you love when you’re hungry, and go for a short, easy walk with baby.
12. Slow down and enjoy this time.
I know this one is hard. It was hard for me with my first baby, and it’s still hard now with my third. I tend to get so wrapped up in my to-do list when what I really want is to just be still and enjoy those baby snuggles. Try to remember the newborn phase won’t last forever. Right now you may be looking ahead and wishing for the next milestone – when that baby won’t rely on you quite so much, when she will sleep through the night, when she will be able to eat solid foods. But before you know it, you’ll wish you could go back to those days when your little one was so tiny. Today is a day that you can never get back, so enjoy that sweet little bundle while you can. Savor those middle of the night feedings and snuggles. Spend as long as you want talking to your baby and enjoying the smiles you get in return. There will always be time for laundry later.
What helped you stay sane during the newborn stage? What was your biggest challenge?
Kristine, these are such great tips! I don’t have any kids yet, but this definitely sounds like wonderful advice. I really like how you chose to smile when changing a poppy diaper and giving yourself something to look forward to when waking up in the middle of the night. And yes, enjoying this time too…because of course it won’t last forever! 🙂
Thanks, Gayle! For me, the middle of the night feedings are one of the hardest parts of having a newborn. With my first two, I didn’t have a smartphone. This time, it makes such a difference to be able to scroll through Instagram or Facebook to keep myself awake!
She is just too cute! Love this list Kristine! Time is moving way too quickly, and yet, I just can’t wait until she is sleeping through the night on a regular basis! My first was sleeping at least 8 hours, every night, by the time she was a month old. We don’t even have that with our 3 month old this time! But she is SO much busier — she rolls both ways now and pushes herself forward on her knees. I think things are going to get very busy very soon!
Thanks so much, Ashley! Time is moving WAY too fast! That is amazing that she is rolling and moving so much already! She is going to be into everything before you know it. I hope you get some more sleep soon!
She is too cute and all of that hair is so pretty! These are such great tips, Kristine. I think any new mom would feel so much better after reading this too.
Thank you, Danielle! We just love our girl (and her hair!). 🙂
These are all great tips, Kristine! You are right, it is so important to sleep whenever you can! I found that even a short nap helped keep me sane! It goes by so quickly and is such a sweet time.
Thank you, Kelly! It can be so hard to nap when there are so many other things you want to do, but without sleep I find I’m not nearly as productive (or happy)!
Wow I am totally saving this post because I will need this when I have a baby. And secondly your baby is the cutest baby ever! I could never tire of that face and hair!
Thanks, Jocelyn! I think we’ll keep her! 😉
This was so fun to read! We don’t have kids yet, but I love learning as much wisdom from new moms so I feel more prepared when the day comes. And with 3 kids you are a definite expert! Thanks for sharing!
I’m glad you enjoyed reading, Natalie! 🙂
Kristine, I sent your tips to my daughter, who is expecting her first in two weeks. She is eager to read it and reap the benefits of your experience. I wish I had known about the importance of slowing down and savoring the little moments with that precious little one instead of trying to get something done.