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The sweet sound of Paternity Leave brings comfort to many expecting and new mothers (well, that is if your spouse is one of the lucky new dads that actually gets paternity leave).
It’s a time when you have a second pair of hands to help you care for the newborn baby at home. This is nothing short of a blessing.
Having your spouse or family around means that you can do something while they see to the baby. Making the whole new parenting experiencing much much easier.
Unfortunately, paternity leave doesn’t last forever. It two weeks at best to be precise.
So after two weeks (or even from day one), you have to cope with being a parent to a newborn baby all on your own.
It sounds scary, I would know! But you can do it. With a few tips, you can cope with a new baby mama!
and here’s how!
FIRSTLY, REMEMBER THAT ITS NOT AS SCARY AS IT SEEMS – YOUR BABY DOESN’T BITE (WELL NOT YET ANYWAY) :)!
As you soon as you start freaking out, you lose focus on how to care for yourself and your baby. Don’t forget that YOU HAVE YOU to care for as well. This is not just about the baby. But don’t worry, caring for your newborn baby is not all that scary.
It’s just a small person that you will SOON learn to know. All this fear, stress anxiety will soon come to pass.
So, take a deep breath and go through these tips!
PLAN AHEAD AND SET A DAILY ROUTINE
OK, I think I have those back to front because setting a daily routine for both you and baby will help you plan ahead – as you will know exactly what you will need. Don’t worry, you’ll have a lot of baby equipment that will help you too!
Yes, a lot of people have the misconception that a newborn baby does not have a routine – when in fact that is very untrue.
A newborn baby is born with the routine they had while still in the womb. They will continue to maintain that routine for a few days – to a week. At which point they will then the routine will start to change.
During the early stages, (when you cant really do much about it) start by initiating a routine that will work for both you and baby.
The best way to do this is by working things around your baby’s existing routine.
This is just a matter of studying when your baby sleeps when she wants to feed, how long she feeds for and how long it takes her to go from awake to screaming for attention.
All that will take you a couple of days to master – trust me. Once you’ve established those important times, you can go ahead and set a workable routine.
THINGS YOU WANT TO DO TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR THE DAY AHEAD.
The best thing you can do for yourself in the morning is to wake up before your baby does.
Yes, this might seem like an impossible task because you are tired from the night before, and the night before that.
But waking up before your baby enables you to have a decent shower, brush your teeth and put a comb through your hair – don’t worry. I won’t suggest you wear makeup too.
Once the grooming has been done, make sure you get dressed – not back into last night’s pajamas. NO.
Put on some ‘proper’ clothes. They don’t have to be fancy, but they sure shouldn’t be pajamas or adult onesies!
Wearing ‘normal’ clothes makes you feel ‘normal’ and unconsciously gives you that bit of motivation to take on the day.
If your baby is still sleeping by the time you get out of the shower, take this chance to dash to the kitchen, make a brew and chew on some toast – you’ll need all the energy you can get – especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Don’t worry if you miss this opportunity, newborn babies sleep A LOT, so you can always squeeze it in during the morning nap time.
Once baby wakes up, freshen him up, get him dressed and then settle down for the morning feed.
Although, this depends on when the last time you fed your baby. You might have to feed first, freshen up later.
My daughter used to wake up at 6 am for her morning feed. I would then head downstairs for a cup of tea and some toast. Knowing that by 7.30 – 8 am, she would be awake. But she was not hungry enough for a feed straight away. This allowed me to wash her then feed her after.
My son, on the other hand, did not have the patience or care for a bath. He just wanted his food!
ESTABLISH YOUR BABY’S FEEDING ROUTINE
If you’re breastfeeding, then feeding times shouldn’t be too hectic. However, if you’re formula feeding, you need to make sure that you plan.
Yes, there’s word casually thrown in again. Plan. Bottle feeding is like an all-around clock routine. Try to master your baby’s feeding routine. This will take off the stress of ‘being caught by surprise!
Bearing in mind that newborn babies tend to feed every 2 – 3 hours throughout the day.
To save time and stress level, make sure you have enough clean sterilized bottles to get you through the day and night.
Ensure all your baby’s bottles are clean and have been put in a Bottle Steriliser ready for the morning feed before going to sleep.
Trust me the last thing you want to do and start faffing around with bottle teats at 7 o’clock in the morning after a 3 hours night sleep – you will stress yourself out!
The best way to prepare formula milk for your baby is by making least 2 to 3 bottles in advance.
You can then store them in the fridge ready to be warmed up as and when needed. This is handy as ready formula milk can keep for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Please DO NOT warm up your baby’s milk in the microwave. Doing so creates hot spots in the milk which can scald your baby. Instead, you can use a Baby Bottle and Food Warmer. This also helped me during the night feeds.
The baby bottle warmer made things so much easier for me especially during the night feeds.
Don’t worry if you haven’t nailed your baby’s feeding routine to a T. It will come with time.
Try learning what your baby’s cues mean.
Your baby won’t suddenly burst into hysterical cries from nowhere. He will give cues when he’s ready for a feed. Such as opening his mouth.
Sucking his fingers etc. Do not ignore these cues, instead, use this valuable time to get your pre-made bottle of milk warmed up.
MAKING USE OF NAP TIMES.
One thing I will say is this – rest when your baby is resting!
Yes, you’ve heard it all before. But your body needs to rest as much as your baby does.
Don’t forget you’re recovering from birth and you need to care for your postpartum body too.
It may not feel like it to you, but you will find that baby naps. A. Lot. Which is not surprising as newborn babies need at least 17 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Usually taken in 3-hour increments.
Mamma, Use these nap times wisely.
If you must, It’s always best to try to get small important jobs done in the morning.
I say small because cleaning the house from top to bottom is NOT on the agenda.
Nor is Laundry. All you need is to make sure your baby has enough clean clothes. So, doing your baby’s laundry is considered as a small job – it should only be one load.
Instead, make that brew and toast if you missed it after your morning wash.
Or, just put your heavy head on the pillow and sleep!
From this time until late afternoon, you will sleep when your baby sleeps! This is crucial as you need to catch up on sleep.
Don’t forget you will be up doing your nightly diaper changes, feeds and not forgetting those important burps. So, sleep when the baby sleeps.
KEEPING UP WITH THE HOUSEHOLD CHORES.
OK, so if you were a clean freak before your baby arrived – give yourself some grace because your house will NOT be spotless. That’s ok, no one will judge you!
If you really, really must do chores, then have three daily lists;
Choose two chores that need to be done that day (essential and can’t wait); Choose two that can wait until the end of the week and finally, choose two that CAN wait – period!
Sometimes, you will find that your baby is awake when you must do something that Just cannot wait.
For situations like these, I would invest in a baby carrier. These things are a lifesaver. Especially in the first couple of weeks after birth.
Get a carrier that is suitable for babies from birth like this one. Try not to carry your baby for prolonged periods of time. Instead, only carry them to carry out light work, i.e. folding up the baby’s laundry.
Once he falls asleep, put him down. Trust me, you don’t want a handbag baby.
DO NOT have your baby in a carrier while you do the cooking – this is VERY dangerous.
Although cooking should be one of those tasks that need to be done when the baby is having a nap, if you find that you need to cook and your baby is awake, simply place your baby in a Rocker/Bouncer and place them in the kitchen doorway. If you have an open plan kitchen diner, even better.
I did this when I had my second child and needed to make lunch for my daughter. Yes, they will cry, but let them. Babies cry, that’s what they do best. But a rocker and a sing-song will give you two spare minutes!
LEARN TO ACCEPT HELP FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
If you have friends and family around you, don’t be afraid to ask for help or take up on their offer to help. Even if it means it’s just for half an hour.
Don’t use this time to clean, though – use it to sleep. You’ll be surprised at how rested you will feel after 30 mins of decent sleep.
You can also accept help in other forms, such as someone making dinner, or getting you some groceries. All these little things will mean a lot. It will be one less thing you or your partner must do.
DON’T BE AFRAID, YOU’RE NOT FAILING OR A BAD MOM, YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB MAMA!
It’s easy to think you’re failing at the task of being a ‘good mum’ when things start getting a little overwhelming. But trust me, you’re not. You are still very hormonal, you are very tired and very stressed. This is all part of being a new mum.
Once you’ve figured out your baby’s routine and incorporated it into your day to day living, things will get easier. You’ll start to relax a little more and find that you start doing things on autopilot because you will know the routine.
Do not worry about housework, it will still be there waiting for you next week.
Don’t try to compare yourself to other mothers – all mothers try to put on a front that they’re doing great – when really, they’re in the same boat as you.
Most of all, don’t worry about what your visitors will think of you when they find your house in a state, if they’re not mothers, they don’t understand your situation.
Don’t get so caught up in this whole perfect mothering web that you start to drive yourself crazy.
Just enjoy the moments and concentrate on getting to know you’re the new member of the family.
MY FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE
When you’ve had a particularly stressful day, don’t try to pass on baby duties to your partner as soon as he walks through the door.
Remember that he too has probably had a stressful day at work. Instead, allow him the chance to change out of his work clothes. Sit down and have a cup of tea!
Don’t try to pretend that you have absolutely everything under control just to try to impress your partner. I’m sure he’s more than impressed with the amount of work you’re putting in to look after your baby.
What do you feel is the hardest part about looking after the baby on your own?
- How to Clean Your Newborn Baby From Head To Toe
- Rediscovering Yourself After Motherhood
- If Breast Is Best, Should We Rule Out Formula Feeding?