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.
- 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).
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.
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.
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.