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.

What if my instincts are WRONG?

In a word, they just aren’t.   Your instincts are never wrong.  Every mother I’ve spoken to has echoed this sentiment.

instinctsneverwrong5

Regrets are always about going against your own instincts

I don’t want to say regret like: to this day I regret doing or not doing something.  But, decisions that have blown up in my face, and driven me to go back to what my gut was telling me to do.

 

And it’s not just me.  I was at a wedding shower recently and the mother of the bride told a story about when she was pregnant with her second daughter, her first (the bride) had not been potty trained yet.  The doctor put the fear of God into this poor pregnant woman telling her “you don’t want 2 kids in diapers at the same time” and so she dutifully tried to potty train her daughter even though her daughter just didn’t seem ready to mom.

And there was just so much crying.  And it didn’t work at all.  And she was pregnant + tired so she gave up potty training until her daughter seemed ready, after the second baby came.

 

I’m not saying you will avoid crying or you will get it right the first time every time.

Sometimes you will change your mind and decide to change your course.  Or decide that what was the wrong decision 3 weeks ago is now the right decision, now that baby is a little older.  It’s always up to you because you are the one who pays the consequences.

If you follow your gut and your decision doesn’t work out how you hoped, you learn something as a parent.  If you follow someone else’s advice and it doesn’t work out how you hoped, all you learn is to not follow someone else’s advice.

 

How about you?  Are you finding it easy to follow your gut with your new baby or your pregnancy?

6 things you SHOULD say to a new mom, (and 20 you should never).

I’m kind of a Huffington Post addict.  When I click on one article, I go on a click-through bender that I don’t come out of until for hours.  When I read their article on 5 things you should never say to a new mom, an idea many sites have weighed in on, I knew I wanted to go the other way.

We don’t need to police what we say around new moms & new babies.  If you’re friend’s recently had a baby, you’re celebrating a big change in her life.  You don’t need to worry for the same reason you don’t worry about what you shouldn’t say to a bride and groom on their wedding day.  You’re there to celebrate a big change in change in their life.  When you’re in the mindset of being welcoming, supporting and celebrating, you don’t need to worry that you will say something accidentally offensive, you won’t.

 

When you’re friend becomes a new mom, you have an opportunity to say some of these 6 things.  If you do, you’ll make her day.

 

  1. You are so great with the baby.

Even if she looks like she’s handling the baby perfectly, there will be times when nothing she tries is what he wants and he will scream endlessly.  In those moments, it’s hard to remember that sometimes this baby coos and gazes at her face.  She will cling to the idea that she is good with this baby. If you see her taking care of a happy baby, say so.

 

  1. You are the zen master.

Just like the first reason, there will be a moment one day when she isn’t.  Even if she doesn’t lose your cool, slam a door or scream into a pillow, she’ll be that frustrated and it’s nice to know that someone noticed when she did have it all together.

 

  1. You look radiant.

Pregnant women are known for their glow, but new mommies have it too.  Newlyweds and people in new relationships have it too.  It’s the look of people overcome with love and it makes you look like the most deliciously beautiful version of yourself.  The radiance on your face shines through greasy hair and stained clothes.  Everyone loves to hear it, call it if you see it.

 

  1. You look so happy.

Of all the things on this list, this is my favorite to say to anyone.  For me, this is the least related to new motherhood – I say this to anyone any time I see them beaming or have that contented calm air about them.  I think it’s one of the best things that you can hear, second to hearing I love you for the first time.  It’s a great way to stop and honor what brought you to this happy place in your life.

I believe that it’s important to know what lights you up in general.  When I’m ‘down’ I can’t picture ever being happy –when in my life I was happy, what makes me happy, anything.  Of course, she knows she’s happy right now.  When someone else articulates it, it sticks in your memory more.

 

  1. She has your eyes, or something about your personality

You might think the baby looks like her dad, and why not?  There’s a 50/50 shot and some people, including the fine folks at NY Times, think that evolution predisposes babies to look like their fathers.  Every baby pretty much has the same mouth, which doesn’t look like ANY adult mouth, so that’s a major part of the face that can’t be attributed to mom or dad.  Does she look like mom at all?  Any characteristic or does she have the same

Moms are predisposed to think that her baby is the most beautiful thing on Earth, so if she can look at the baby and see something of herself it will make her day. And she will take that as the biggest compliment.

Besides, looking alike is part of being a family, so you pointing out some resemblance might help mom feel closer to her new baby.

 

  1. I care about you.

We like to wait for the right moment to say when we care about people who are important to us, don’t we?  It feels awkward otherwise; it’s socially risky.  I’ve said before that one of the most beautiful parts of motherhood is that it is an opportunity for people to tell their loved ones about how and why they love them.

Anyone who has attended a funeral can tell you, life is short.  If you’ve shared with the relatives standing next to the casket how much the deceased meant to you, you probably felt the extra sting of knowing that you’ve never found the right chance to say it.

Maybe it’s just a simple I love you or I care about you or I want you to be happy or I love seeing you this happy.  Now is the time to say so.  Now is the time to be as schmaltzy as possible.  With all the endorphine, oxytocin and dopamine hormones flowing through mommy right now, it’s going to go over really well, and she’s more likely to appreciate and remember it forever.

If she’s ever inspired you or helped you through a tough time, it’s a great time to remind her of that and thank her again.  She probably doesn’t know it meant so much to you, and even if she does, she’s probably not thinking about it today.  If you can’t think of the right way to say it, just abruptly change the subject whenever there’s a pause, say You’re amazing then jump straight in.  We remember the meaningful things people say, not how cleverly they worked it into conversation.

 

Naturally, moms only want to hear any of those 6 thoughts (and you only want to say them) if you believe they are true.  If you’re looking for them, I’m sure you’ll see at least one.

 

If you really insist, here is the accumulated knowledge from the internet, the top 20 things not to say to a new mom (5 from Huffington Post, 16 from Women’s Health mag, 10 from parents.com, 19 from buzzfeed).   When you’re in the frame of mind to help mom feel good about the transition she’s making, you wouldn’t really think to say any of them.

 

  1. Enjoy the moment, it goes by so fast.
  2. Are you loving it?
  3. Are you breastfeeding?
  4. You’re so lucky.
  5. She’s so huge / he’s so tiny.
  6. Sleep when the baby sleeps – or any other advice.
  7. Wow, you look tired.
  8. Your baby sure does cry a lot.
  9. It only gets worse as they get older.
  10. Did you really want a boy/girl?
  11. Are you going back to work soon?
  12. Are you ready for another?
  13. You have to breastfeed.
  14. Anything related to weight.
  15. Baby looks like a monkey
  16. Is that drool on your shirt?
  17. Are you getting enough sleep?
  18. Your baby is too young to be doing this?
  19. It must be nice to be home all day.
  20. I’d be so nervous leaving her with a stranger.

 

Did I miss anything?  What completely made your day to hear when you were a new mom?  Or, did you say something that went over really well when you met a friend and her baby?  Let us know in the comments below.

Did you enjoy this article?  Great!  I was hoping so.  Join our email list (for FREE, naturally), for reminders and other fun stuff that we only share in email.

 

Love ya ladies, you’re beautiful baby growing heroes.