When it comes to parenthood I would best describe the first few months as one giant, ridiculous roller coaster. You’ve got lots of really great highs, several lows and every now and then a random twist or turn. Have you ever been on Splash Mountain at Disney, where you can see the giant drop in front of you so you know it’s coming? Then when you’re actually on the ride you go down the big drop and around the corner and all of a sudden “SURPRISE!” There’s another drop you had no idea was coming? That’s basically how parenting works.
Now that I’ve told you about how parenting is basically just a giant cluster, I wanted to share with you some tips on how to survive those first few crazy months and come out the other end still somewhat sane.
- Figure out a plan for meals BEFORE baby comes. I had this grand idea that I would make a bunch of meals to keep in the freezer before Sam came but then life got in the way and that didn’t happen. In the end we went to Costco and bought a couple of their freezer meals instead and it was so great being able to throw one in the microwave to eat. We also had family bring premade dinners or takeout. Another idea I saw was a meal train website where people sign up for individual days to bring you a meal. Just make sure that you have some sort of plan for food beforehand, it will make everything so much easier when you’re trying to figure out how to survive with a brand new baby!
- Make time for yourself. Whether it’s walking alone to the mailbox, going shopping, driving around in your car for half an hour, getting a pedicure, make some time for yourself where you’re not being screamed at or pooped on by a baby! I’ll never forget the day I was at my wit’s end dealing with Sam. Nick looked at me and said “why don’t you go out for a couple hours?” I wandered around Target for a little while and was able to enjoy some quiet without trying to entertain Sam. It was just what I needed!
- Don’t worry about the house. I feel like so many people feel like they have to keep their home perfectly clean and picked up which I’ve realized is pretty much impossible those first few months. You want to know the most important thing to do? Keep you and your baby alive and happy. As long as you’re doing that and don’t have mold growing on dishes in the sink or an inch of dirt built up on the floor, let it go! Enjoy those baby snuggles, that afternoon nap, or catch up on the latest episode of your Netflix, anything but worry that your home isn’t spotless.
- Find your community. I belong to a couple; my birth month board and two local mama’s groups. Both of them are online and have been such a huge support since I first found out I was pregnant. It’s nice having a group of women- many that have already been through this once before- to go to for questions, reassurance, or to vent when it seems like everything is going wrong. I highly recommend Then Comes Family for a community board, or if you’re looking for something more local go onto FB and search for mom groups in your local town.
- TAKE A SHOWER EVERY DAY. I get it, the baby is really needy and your husband is gone all day and there are one million things on your to do list, but you need to make a daily shower (or bath!) a priority. And no, it’s not because you’re smelly (but honestly you most likely have breastmilk, spit up, poop, or a combo of all three on you sooo…), but a shower does wonders for your sanity. It’s a few minutes to stand under the hot water, take some deep breaths and relax. I like to save my showers for before bed when Nick is home and can entertain Sam, but when that’s not possible for whatever reason then I either wait until nap time or plop Sam in his bouncer in front of the shower with a couple toys. You have to put your oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else, take half an hour each day to take care of yourself. I’ve got a baby that is very high needs and hates being put down, if I can get myself in the shower I promise you it’s possible for anyone to!
- Go on dates with your husband/significant other and leave the baby at home with someone you trust. Our one year wedding anniversary was five days after Sam was born so we knew we would have to delay celebrating it. When we finally got around to it about six weeks later, it was well needed and well deserved! We treated ourselves to a nice dinner out with a bottle of wine and spent the entire time talking about Sam. It was nice to be able to have adult time just the two of us, celebrating the event that started our family in the first place. Going on dates is so important because it helps keep you connected to your significant other and reminds you that you aren’t just mom and dad, you’re still husband and wife. We made a rule that we needed to have a date at least once a month and have done our best to stick to it. Even if it’s just dropping the baby off at Grandma’s and driving around holding hands for an hour, let yourselves have some time just the two of you like before a baby came and changed everything!
- Know when to say “I’ve done all I can.” Maybe you planned on breastfeeding but it’s been a huge struggle and stressor. All that matters is that baby is being fed, they don’t care if it’s breastmilk or formula. Maybe the baby has been screaming for an hour straight and you’ve tried everything you can think of to no avail. Put the baby in their crib or somewhere else safe for five minutes, walk away and take some deep breaths. Take a shower! Know that you’ve done everything you can and don’t beat yourself up over it. No one is perfect, we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have.