Having a new baby in the house can be incredibly hard. Newborns basically eat, poop, and sleep, with the occasional bout of noise-making in between. Sure, they provide cuteness and love-ability by the bucketload, but they also require a ton of care and more than a few sleepless nights.
Some doctors and child-rearing experts cite this as the reason that so many young p
arents struggle in those first few weeks. Newborns need a lot of time, and, while still recovering after a long pregnancy and the birth, parents may find it difficult to meet those needs around the clock.
The good news is that there are things you can do to make those first few weeks easier on yourself. Here are just a few of our favourite tips and tricks to get you through the newborn weeks.
Pre-baby meal prep
If you like to spend time in the kitchen, cook up as many meals as you can before you have your baby. There are numerous blogs and recipes on the web that focus on cooking huge meals that can be frozen into smaller portions, as well as other prep-ahead techniques.
While newborns don’t do much, they do require a huge amount of time, and finding the time to cook a meal every day be really hard. When all you have to do is grab something from the freezer and reheat, you stand a far better chance of getting a solid meal in every day, even if you do survive on coffee and cereal bars throughout the rest of the day.
If you’re not someone who enjoys cooking, include gift cards to your favorite restaurants in your baby shower gift registry. When things get hectic, order dinner in; you can eat in your pajamas and still feel like you got to have more than just a handful of something you snatched out of the fridge between nappy changes.
Make a schedule
Some newborns fall happily into a schedule made by their parents, while others seem a bit more committed to haphazard eating / sleeping / waking patterns.
Parents should try to get their baby into a rhythm, whether that’s by creating their own or by following the one laid out by the little bundle of joy. Having a schedule can give you some idea of how your day will go and that will enable you to plan naps, meals and time for yourself.
While you’re making a schedule, consider making yourself a to-do list. Write down items that you find yourself missing – sleep, for example, or getting a hot cup of coffee in the morning. Work with your partner to make sure you get the most important emotional needs met during your day; it’ll help you get through the rest of it.
Not only will having a to-do list help to keep you on-track to achieving everything you want to within the day, but being organized has also been scientifically proven to help reduce stress.
Let technology help you
Along with accepting help from friends, accept help from technology. We live in a modern world for a reason and during those first few weeks, you’ll need every bit of assistance you can get.
Newborn babies feed every two to three hours – and that equals a lot of bottle washing! You could spend literally hours every day manually washing and sterilizing bottles. But a better investment is a benchtop bottle sterilizer.
Altelle’s Bottle Bath, for example, sits on the kitchen benchtop and you simply load empty bottles, nipples and teats into it throughout the day. When it’s full, just press a button and it will wash, sterilize and dry everything for you. Yep, that’s it; a 3-in-1 process – at the press of a button.
This process takes under 60 minutes, and then your bottles are perfectly clean and ready for use. It’s better for the environment than hand-washing, too, as it uses much less water. It’s also compact and portable, meaning it doesn’t take up too much space and can easily be set up and used in whichever room you prefer, with the wastewater tank connected.
Once you’ve had your first child, you’ll be struck by how difficult it is to find the time to do everything you need to. But there are many other tools and apps out there to help you.
Talk to experienced parents about what equipment they couldn’t get by without and seriously consider investing in some of the same items.
If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family around who can help you in those first few weeks, accept their help. And don’t be shy and feel like you have to offer them the chance to hold a sweet, sleeping baby while you rush around and tidy the kitchen or do a load of laundry. Put your guests to work – they’ll usually be only too pleased to help out, especially if they’ve offered to!
It may also be a good time to consider hiring someone to help with certain tasks, if that’s within your means. For example, having someone in once a week to clean the bathroom and the kitchen can go a long way towards making your home feel cleaner – and helping you feel more relaxed.
Relax your standards
One of the key tips for surviving the early weeks with a new baby – and, in some ways, the rest of your life with children – is to relax your standards. Or, perhaps, to re-evaluate your priorities.
Parents often find themselves picking and choosing what they most need to get by. For example, one person may not be able to feel like a human being without a morning shower, while another may put on a full face of makeup before they leave the house in order to feel comfortable and presentable. Someone else may not care what they look like, but will need the main rooms of the house to be spotless before guests arrive.
The key is to understand what you can get by without and what you really do need to have. Make sure you have an honest communication with your partner about each other’s needs, so mutual needs can be met. And then put aside the less important things until you have more time.