5 ways to survive the newborn phase

I don’t know about you, but I have found that there is more to newborn chaos then just lack of sleep.

Explosion of baby stuff all over your house is one.

Lack of personal space is another.

Sometimes it’s magical to hold a teeny tiny baby, especially when you’ve been dreaming about it for months.  Sometimes their sweaty little bodies are soooooo heavy when they fall asleep in your lap.  The adrenaline of trying to set them down without waking wires you up so you can’t follow that old adage to “sleep when the baby sleeps”.

And then there’s all those new baby products vying for your attention, to soothe or to stimulate or to “hack” something or promising to get you some more of that coveted sleep.  As for getting more sleep, that is a moving target, as the Drs. Plooij and van de Rijt detail in their awesome book, The Wonder Weeks

Here’s how to make your new baby life a little less chaotic.  And, you don’t have to wait for baby to arrive to try them out. 

  1. Automate other chores in your life.  Why you should learn to stop worrying and love Amazon Prime + your house cleaner.

    Your time is important.  You don’t need to worry about your house or grocery shopping.  But if living with a giant or medium sized mess will bother you (either for your own sake, for the sake of what the baby spends part of her day crawling on the floor, touching everything and put as much into her mouth as she can manage, or because you don’t want to immortalize the mess in all your baby photos), then someone needs to worry about your house.  But don’t worry, it’s still not going to be you.Can you order all your shopping trips online?  You can get groceries through Peapod, that way you don’t have be a ninja planner to slip a grocery trip in between newborn naps that are so close together and unpredictable (at least in my experience) that you can barely fix yourself a meal before he wakes up?  If you love cooking, you cut out the grocery trip with Blue Apron or Plated.  Sign up for Amazon Prime / Amazon Mom (basically the same thing, Amazon Mom includes coupons for baby essentials like shampoo and teething rings).

    It’s like a hoverboard and a Zamboni had a giant baby, am I right?

Can you automate your other chores?  Can you hire a cleaner?  Can you hire a landscaping business to come mow your lawn for you?  These all cost less than you think, if you haven’t looked into it before.  I figured getting the lawn mowed by those guys with the huge truck and the lawn mower that looks like a cross between a hoverboard and a Zamboni would be super expensive, but for my yard it turned out to cost less than 4 Starbucks lattes.

If it isn’t a financial hardship for you, but you’re feeling some guilt that you *should* be able to keep your house pinterest ready without any help, I’m going to ask you please don’t. Think of it as another way that you are making room for this new person joining your household, like building and decorating the nursery, buying all that premium baby stuff. 

Giving yourself some time to recharge and come back as a relaxed, engaged mom is so much more important than buying the slightly higher end stroller or some adorable baby shoes for a baby who can’t walk.


2. Organize the village:

It takes a village, and moms of the past used to have a village to help them raise their kids.  Modern moms, however, need to take the bull by the horns and organize the village if we’re going to get any help, even from the well-intentioned people who offer – they aren’t just going to show up unannounced to babysit or drop off food, they’re going to wait for you to tell them when and what to do. Which you will not have a moment to do.

There’s a great way to organize this online, which I will tell you all about, but I’m guessing a lot of the offers will come all in one convenient place… your baby shower!  Or your sip-and-see party or when you roll your stroller through the office to say hello.  When your friends and family first get a glimpse at how cute your little bundle of sweet gurgling noises and wondrous gazes, they’ll offer their babysitting services on the spot.  That’s when you pounce.  Whip out your phone or leave behind a paper calendar with any dates and times when you already have help or would be inconvenient and let people choose when they’d like to stop by.

You can leave a paper copy of your babysitting/meal organizing calendar with your mom or BFF if your community includes some people who don’t like to go online.

I am so happy to be able to update this post with a new FREE service that organizes all of this for you!  Mealtrain.com will let your friends and family log on and pick a day that’s good for them to come and visit and maybe bring some food or pick up a few things for you.  You fill out a short survey with your meal preferences and what else you might need (like babysitting, snow shoveling and dog-walks).  If you only want to organize meals, it’s free, if you want to add more than one event, it’s $10.

By the way, this is exactly what we’re doing with Hello Beautiful Mommy Digital.  With something even more important than dinner – with emotional support + encouragement.  

You probably got (or will get) a million texts and tweets and Facebook messages saying “Congratulations!!!!” when the news of your baby’s arrival first gets out.

The types of messages that a mom really needs to hear don’t just roll off your friends’ and families’ fingertips.

And I don’t mean to be rude or burst your bubble, but they’ll all forget as soon as they send the text.  Whether they said “you’re amazing” “your baby is beautiful” or “I’ll babysit” they’ll forget as soon as their next work email rolls in and their own lives take over their attention.

Your days are long, their days are not.

You’re whole maternity leave will blow by before they realize that it’s been a few weeks.  Your friends and family will have moved on to other dramas in their life and won’t be messaging you the heartfelt thoughts that they felt when they first heard, and that are still true.  The next thing you’ll hear them say is “Oh my God, how did he get so big?!  I can’t believe it’s been 3 months!”

3. Reward the village

When friends stop by, snap a photo of them + baby and post it on social media. It will get your other friends interested (& a little jealous).


4. Don’t clean, especially if another mom is coming over

Really, no wants you to clean for them.  It’s you who wants that, who wants other people to see how you’re nailing this whole mom thing, because I know you are a lot of the days and it’s kind of blow to your ego when someone comes over when it looks like you’re not nailing it, not even a little bit.  But look at it this way, it will only make them feel guilty when they have a baby and they don’t keep the place looking nice.

So, really when you think about it, you’re doing them a favor 😉

5. Choose a mantra to repeat during night feedings / soothings

You can pick any mantra that makes you feel supported and grounded.

Hey little baby, I’m your mommy.

I said this one a lot.  It was the first thing that I said to him when I met him and it reconnected me to that precious moment and summoned all the strength within exhaustion and love and tenderness of that moment so that I could feel it when I was feeling less confident or like everything I try won’t stop my baby from crying.

Taking care of mom is taking care of the babyTaking care of me IS taking care of the baby

This is a great one for mommy guilt.


Say this one to yourself to remind you that you mom, you are the biggest influence on how your baby sees the world. I repeated this every time I took a moment for myself or ate some of the uber expensive organic food we bought for the baby or let Dad soothe the baby.


Or SING, lullabies are great too!

It’s a sweet experience to sing lullabies to babies.  It might connect you to your experience with your mother singing the songs that she sang to you and that her mother sang to her.

But if you don’t remember any lullabies or you don’t enjoy them or you can’t remember the words because you’ve been up all night the last 3 nights, don’t sweat it, the babies don’t care.  They just want to hear your voice.  That’s what’s soothing about a lullaby.

If you get sick of the lullabies, try this: Change the words to a common lullaby to the words of what you’re doing that day.  Trust me!  They’ll love it!  It’s YOU it’s YOUR VOICE.  They will love it.

Another thing you can do is sing a motivational affirmation, and you can even sing it to the tune of twinkle twinkle.

I used to sing in the rhythm of the grandfather clock whatever we’d be doing next: Now we’re getting in the car, going to the store.

Yoga chants are also great.  Here’s my favorite.  The lyrics are Loka Samasta sukhino bhavanthu and it basically means:

May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

Basically, I want you to have some peace (if not peace AND quiet) in those chaotic first months.  I don’t want to add to your to-do list.  My intention is only to share a few things that you can get in place before the baby is here or reach for when you realize that your life is getting crazy and your house is complete chaos, I hope something on this list will help you reign it in.

Another Interpretation of “Every Breath You Take” by The Police

If I had a dollar for every time I read somewhere or heard someone say they realized that “Every Breath You Take” by The Police sounded a bit creepy and stalkerish to them, I’d have a lot of dollars.  As an 80s kid, I remember when the song was widely known as hopeless romantic, even a great first dance song for a wedding.


Technically the lyrics are about a stalker, but it is such a beautiful classic song, it just sounds like a love song.


Well, I’d like to offer up a third interpretation.  Listen again as the mom of lovingly replying to her daughter’s babbles as conversation.  Or as the Dad, clasping his hands trying not to help his son as he shakily takes his first steps.


Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you

Oh, can’t you see you belong to me
How my poor heart aches with every step you take


In those few precious beautiful moments after you set down your 6 month old before you gingerly step out of his room and close the door without waking her, when you watch his peaceful face, you’ll understand.


Ok maybe some of the lyrics don’t work out perfectly.  But, you know that “Ring Around the Rosie” is about dying, right?  And what do you think happened to all those people on London Bridge?

The many parallels of being very young and very old

We have an acute awareness of how vulnerable we are now, during pregnancy, and during our birth.  We are in awe of the life we’re building in our bellies and how much potential for absorbing the world this little person has and are excited about how much we can share with them.  These little babies will be need machines, relying on us for every aspect of their survival.

You will always remember who was kind to you during the vulnerable times in your life

If we’re fortunate enough to have another 30-50 years on this planet , we will experience another vulnerable lifestage.  As much as toddlers struggle with their independence and pride of wanting to do it myself, toddlers don’t know what real independence is, so they don’t know what they are missingWhen you grow old, you come back to the same lifestage of relying on someone else to meet your basic needs, with the added indignity to know what you used to be capable of doing.


This past week, I was talking to my aunt at my cousin’s baby shower.  She has a lot of responsibilities for her elderly parents (my grandparents) and in talking about her challenges I saw how much the overlapped with the challenges of living with a little one.

How it takes so much longer to leave or arrive.  How you have to carry so many extra things for them.  How you rearrange for their schedules. How they can be inflexible on routines or whatever aspect of their live they are able to control, since there are so few.  The exercise in patience to let them have any independence in doing something, and the level of concentration and effort it takes for them to accomplish it.


I see my grandparents frequently, but I only see the best of it because when I see my grandparents, I show up with a baby (now toddler), who is so full of life, the distraction and entertainment.  I don’t see that my grandparents are sometimes ornery or stubborn.  I barely even see the symptoms of dementia.

Everything difficult or unpleasant all falls out of the present experience around the very young

Everything difficult or unpleasant all falls out of the present experience around the very young

It is so delightful to watch them together.

I was so happy to see someone putting the very young and the very old together, on a larger scale then just grandparents and grandchildren.  I want to share this with you film about intergenerational experiences of children and elderly at the Providence Mount St. Vincent retirement home in Seattle, WA, which is also home to the Intergenerational Learning Center.

Check out the trailer here:


and if you’re moved like I was, back the kickstarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1246023967/present-perfect-a-documentary-film-post-production

Does having a baby make “difficult” people easier to tolerate?

You might not know that I’m a hobby-poet.  Writing poetry was my hobby years ago (I actually just typed happy instead of hobby, love those Freudian slips!).

I just woke up early one morning this week, and the poem just flowed out of me.  I’ve written 3-4 since then and that was just the morning before last.  As I’m reconnecting to it I’m bringing it in to Hello Beautiful Mommy.

So, along with the normal blog posts that I share, I’m going to write some of the topics as poems.  I hope you enjoy them (as poems), but I hope you also appreciate them for the same reason as you appreciate in the same way that appreciate any blog, and you see the meaning for you and support behind them.


You love the sound of your own voice

Little baby

3 months old

On his back under a jungle mobile

Kicking your feet rhythmically

And squealing with delight


You love the sound of your own voice


I laugh to think of the last time I used that phrase

To describe some blowhard

Dominating a meeting

Overpowering his colleagues.


Knowing you, little baby

Helps me find the same soft patience

That I have for your weeping

For these childish adults

And their childlike pleasures.


Even when those childlike pleasures

Are super annoying.


Kathy McJacobson

May 2015

What’s Wrong with Parents Who Follow Parenting Advice That You Think Is Crazy?

Hello beautiful mommy!

Today we’re going to talk about what’s wrong with people who live by parenting advice that you think is completely insane.”

Whenever you read a parenting book and think “WHOA, that’s nuts. I would NEVER do that.”  If you’re totally honest with yourself, you’re probably also thinking something along the lines of:

What is wrong with the people who wrote this book?

And what is wrong with the parents who read this book and live by its advice? They must be completely crazy.


They must hate their children or hate themselves.

Or maybe they’re just not very smart.


Well today I’m going to tell you what is wrong with these people that live by advice that you think is completely insane.

Here it is.


They have totally different kids.


If you read something and you think, “This is terrible, I could never do that. I do want to do that.” Then it’s probably wrong for your baby, for your family, for your household or for your sanity. You know your baby and you will make the right decision when you listen to yourself. Listen to your heart, listen to your gut. Just listen for what sounds right to you and that is your truth.


So whether we’re talking about sleep training, breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, pumping, going back to work, being a stay-at-home parent. You don’t have to do any of it, but it could be the perfect decision for someone else. They have their own gut, they have their own heart, and they have their own journey.


Why am I telling you this?

Because it’s so important to have a relationship with other parents, with babies the same age as yours.  They understand what you’re going through and are living it in real-time. Even moms of slightly older kids forget what it’s like – what it felt like at the time and what their kids did and what they were worried about or how long a stage lasted.

But we’re all making a staggering number of decisions per day.  And it feels like the stakes are high for all of them.  Hearing the hint of judgement from another mom, especially one who you think is A Great Mom, can be devastating.

Reading or hearing about someone else’s dramatically different experience or decision is not an indictment of your decision.


Sometimes you feel like you do want to say something, though.

Maybe they’re being hard on themselves and as their friend you wish they would be kinder to themselves.  Maybe you tried the same thing and regret it now.




Did they ask for your opinion?  Maybe they just want to vent.


Even if you’re 100% right and they’re 100% wrong, if they don’t do it their way and find out that they’re wrong, they’re never going to really trust your way of doing it until they do it their own way and find out that’s not a good idea.


If you absolutely must say something, try to frame it within what worked for you, like “I tried that too.  It was really hard.  I was really happy when I tried this next.” That way, you’re only talking about you.


Parenting is such a rapid-fire decision-making exercise. We make conscious, mindful decisions and we hope for the best. We hope we do the right thing and we hope when we don’t do the right thing, since inevitably we won’t get it right every single time since we make tons and tons of decisions for this little human every single day, we hope that our good intentions and the rest of the better decisions we made are just good enough.


Today I want to ask you…are there any things you’ve pre-decided that you will do or not do? Or are you just planning on following your gut when the time comes? Or are there some things you’re sure about and some things you’re not sure about? Tell us in the comments below.

Thanks for reading! I’m Kathy from Hello Beautiful Mommy, reminding you that you are beautiful because you are you. You just happen to also be mommy.