The first weeks you bring a baby home, no matter how prepared or ready you are, it flips things upside down a little. Nights bleed into days as they figure out sleeping outside the womb, you suddenly lose hours of your life to feeding, and, not to mention if you’re the mom and you carried the baby, you’re also dealing with postpartum recovery ontop of all of that.
Overall, I’ve found this newborn phase a lot easier my second time around. Yes, it’s certainly more exhausting doing it with a 2-year-old running around, but I’ve found it overall easier and honestly more enjoyable this time. I think it’s due to the fact that a) I’ve done it once before and b.) I have some little tricks and tips up my sleeve that have made it a ton easier on me. I want to share some of those tips with you in hopes to help the newborn phase not only be survivable for you, but truly enjoyable because it’s true what they say….they grow up quick.
1. Lower your standards
OK, I mean that kinda as a joke, what I really mean is “give yourself grace” and “accept you can’t do it all.”
Here’s the thing… you’re just not going to be able to do everything you did before the baby was here. Hours of your day that you used to have are now dedicated 100% to feeding and caring for this little human. And, well, we only get 24 hours each day, which means some things are just going to have to take the back burner.
Personally, I am someone who really struggles when I’m not getting things checked off my to-do list. I weigh my worth on my productivity. So, obviously, this step can be hard for me. However, I have found it way easier the second time because I went into it with the standards for myself lowered. In some of the upcoming tips, I’m going to share some ways to work around having less time and still get some things accomplished. But, overall, it’s good to go into the newborn phase already accepting that you’re just not going to be able to do everything you were doing prior.
2. Remember this is temporary
The good news of what I just mentioned in the previous tip is that you WILL regain your time and productivity back. I know it doesn’t always feel like it when you’re in the thick of newborn life, but trust me, your life does return to a feeling of normalcy.
Something that has helped me a lot in motherhood is understanding our lives go through seasons. Every season has its pros and cons. The season of mothering young children is probably one of the most exhausting but special seasons you’ll go through. And, just like all other seasons, it doesn’t last forever. Babies don’t keep and before you know it they are walking and sleeping on their own and these newborn days are just a faded memory.
I think a big reason the newborn phase has been easier for me this time around is that I really grasp this concept so much more because I’ve gone through the newborn phase once already. I know that life and normalcy will return, but this newborn phase will not. I only get these few short months to snuggle this newborn body, to wipe away the milk dribble on her cheek, to see those tiny adorable little newborn stretches. It allows me to be a little more present. When I feel anxious because I’m stuck under a sleeping baby and I want to get up to complete a chore or do some work, I’m able to remember that this is very temporary – the bad parts, but the good parts, too.
3. Create small daily goals
Ok, let’s move on to some more concrete tips and not just mindsets. The first one is to create small daily goals every day. Part of the reason the newborn phase can be so hard is everything is very upside down and it can easily feel like there is just SO much you need to do and you just have NO idea when you’re going to ever do any of it …which leaves you feeling very overwhelmed.
What I love to do is each morning (or the night before when I’m up nursing) is I jot down 3-6 goals for that day. These are the things I really want to accomplish. And, in those first few weeks, these can (and should) be as simple as “take a shower” or “do a full load of laundry” or “bring recycling out to the bin” Prioritize the top few things that are really important for you to do that day.
Often you are spending your day caring for this little human and the minute they finally let you put them down and you quietly tiptoe away in hopes not to wake them, you find yourself with a free few minutes and then you draw a complete blank on what you wanted to do. But, when you have your little goals written down, it’s a lot easier to take action on them. You have identified what you want to accomplish that day and so it makes it way easier to do it.
NOTE: If you have a spouse home with you during the newborn days, make sure to share your goals with each other so you can work together to get the things you wanted done completed and both of you have a feeling of accomplishment!
4. Pick a few key spots in your home to keep tidy
Obviously, I told you in tip one that the first thing you have to do is lower your standards. Your house will not be as tidy as it was before you had a newborn in it. You’re probably going to go more days than usual between mopping your kitchen floor. A mystery stain will appear on your pantry door and it’ll take you 6-10 business days to remember to clean it. But again, remember…normalcy will return, your home will be tidy again. This is just a phase.
That being said, I find that identifying a few key spots in my house to focus on keeping tidy really helps. You want to focus on a few key spots that are crucial to flow of your day, things that when they are tidy make your life easier.
For example, one thing I really focus on keeping tidy is my kitchen sink and counter. The reason is is that when this area is messy or cluttered it makes daily life harder. It’s hard to feed my toddler or whip up a quick meal for my husband and I when the kitchen sink is full or the counters are a mess. So, in the kitchen, I focus on keeping the sink and counters clean and clear, but let go of other things like daily mopping of the floors or wiping my appliances clean each night. I identify the things that impact the flow of my day.
So, another spot I find very helpful to keeping tidy is any area with clothes. So this is dresser drawers, laundry, etc. Mornings can be tricky enough, the last thing I need is a disaster closet where I can’t find comfy leggings and a warm sweatshirt to throw on or finding somethign clean for my toddler to wear. So, I find focusing my effort on keeping clothes at least semi organized and laundry mostly done is worth my time 10000x more than maybe using that time to deep clean the rugs, organize the pantry, clean baseboards, etc.
Again, it’s just about identifying a FEW main places in your home that when they are tidy it makes your day run smoother. Then focus on those areas and allow yourself the freedom of letting go of the rest for now. If you have time to get to the other stuff, great, but if you don’t, also ok.
5. Utilize online resources
I always say having a baby in this day and age has its pros and cons. In some ways, it’s harder because there is just SO MUCH information out there on parenting and babies. And, most of it conflicting so it can be hard to sift through and choose what’s best for you. But, at the same time, we DO have all that information available to us, where 30 years ago there were maybe a few parenting books.
Personally, I have found some amazing online resources that have helped me so much as a mom of a newborn. Sometimes they are helpful simply because they make me feel less alone, sometimes they are helpful because they offer practical helpful advice on something I’m struggling with with my baby. The point is if you’re struggling with something, DON’T STRUGGLE ALONE. There are resources out there to help with everything. And there are resources out there for whatever parenting style you have. Not only can you find good resources but you can find ones that really match how YOU want to parent. And that can be extremely helpful and supportive during this time.
6. White Noise
I’m actually always surprised how many people still haven’t caught on to white noise for little ones. Firstly, when your baby is in the womb it’s actually loud, they hear the sound of blood rushing through your body 24/7. Many have said it’s the equivalent to the sound of a vacuum cleaner running all day long. So, the real world is actually kinda quiet to them. White noise during naps and nighttime sleep greatly helps prolong sleep. I also HIGHLY suggest you get yourself a portable white noise maker, too.
7. Adopt daily/weekly mantras and motivational quotes
I know what you’re thinking – motivational quotes…really? But, the truth is there’s actually some science here. Studies have been done that show that people who see motivational images or words before a task are typically more successful and have a higher feeling of being able to accomplish something. The thought is that when the concept of achievement in your environment, it can double your willingness to keep working.
Now I will say, science has also proven that this can be relative to the person. Some people are more inspired by motivational quotes to get up and get going. So, this might not work for everyone. But, I personally find little mantras to use during the day really help me. When my son went through his 4 month sleep regression we had a few very hard weeks. I remember literally chanting “this is temporary” as I rocked him for countless hours. It was just a little mantra to keep me going.
The good thing is, there are mantras for all parts of motherhood and for all types of people. And, my New Mom Survival Kit on Etsy actually comes with a list of a ton of amazing quotes and mantras to help you through motherhood.
8. Download some good audiobooks
Download a couple of audiobooks on your phone. You’re going to spend a lot of time nursing, feeding, holding, and rocking a baby. This sometimes can be kinda…well..boring. And, when you’re sleep-deprived, it’s also exhausting. Having a good book or two can make these moments a LOT more enjoyable. You’ll find yourself less likely to be counting down how much longer until this baby falls asleep already, and actually sort of enjoying the quiet time. My husband and I actually both gifted ourselves a pair of AirPods for Finley was born to listen to books, podcasts, and music during these times.
9. Accept help
I’m one of those “I’d rather just do it myself” kind of people. Sometimes I honestly think it’s easier to do things myself then to ask someone else to do it for me or explain to them how to do it. I can also be stubborn and want it done “my way.”
In motherhood, you have to let some of that go. LET PEOPLE HELP YOU. People want to help, so accept it.
Also, keep a little list of things that would be helpful for you. Often people want to help but don’t always know what is needed. They won’t always say “can I come to do the dishes” or “can I bring you some takeout.” They’ll instead offer, “if I can do anything let me know,” So, keep a little running list of things that you think of throughout the days that could be helpful so when someone texts or calls. It doesn’t have to be anything big. It could be “drop me off my favorite Starbucks drink” or “can you come by and visit for 30 minutes so can do the laundry” or “next time you’re running to the dump will you come to grab my spare boxes in the garage.” Things don’t need to be exceptional to be helpful. But just remember people won’t always know what you need, so ask.
10. Use a Brain Dump
The first few months of having a newborn it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount you want and need to do, and the lack of time you have to do. We have what seems to be WAY TOO MANY tasks to do, that we don’t even know where to start.
My best hack for dealing with this is to do a brain dump. I probably do one almost weekly. The way it works is you sit down and literally just dump everything that’s in your brain onto a sheet of paper. Everything you want or need to get done, everything you’re thinking about doing, the steps you need to do it. Just keep writing until there’s nothing left in your brain.
Just the process of writing it down can help you take it out of your head and start to basically close the 800 tabs you have open in your brain. Once on paper, it’s a lot easier to prioritize them and decide which ones you GOTTA get to, and which ones you can let go and save for another day.
11. You can’t ruin your baby
Here’s the thing guys, you can’t do anything that’s going to ruin your baby. You’re not holding them too much, you’re not creating bad sleep habits, you’re not laying the foundation for a spoiled child, you’re not doing anything that’s ruining that baby. In tip 5 I talked about all the amazing online resources, and it’s true, they are amazing and so helpful. But again, like I mentioned, they can be conflicting and confusing as a new mom. Please remember that no matter what methods or techniques you want to choose to use as a parent, they are your choice. You were chosen to be this baby’s mom. No one else. Trust your gut and your instinct and follow things that feel right to you, not the things that your friends online say are the right thing to do.