Sleep deprivation, crying baby, endless laundry, an unfathomable amount of pooey nappies, having on demand boobies, and of course all those crazy hormones is enough to send anyone insane. These are my tips to avoid such a fate (not in any particular order, other than the order I think of them):
1. Go outside every day. Even if it’s just for a little walk around the block (take baby with you in the pram, baby carrier, or if you’re really game, just good old-fashioned carrying) or to the mailbox. Getting outside does wonders for keeping sanity intact. It’s ok, your baby won’t melt, go outside.
2. In the early days, before your baby gets distracted by, well, anything, read a book, play your DS, watch something on your iPod, do a Sudoku (not that baby brain will let you), do something while you breastfeed your baby, something you enjoy doing and otherwise wouldn’t really have time (now that you have a baby) to do. Even in the middle of the night, put on a little lamp, and don’t turn on the actual light and wake up your baby too much.
3. Sometimes babies wake up in the middle of the night for whatever reason, and cry for 1/2/etc. hours while you are sitting there next to the cot, patting your heart out, willing her to go to sleep all the while losing more sanity as the minutes roll by. Or, you could take this time as a little treat for you. Get your ipod, put your headphones in, turn up the volume to drown out crying baby, and watch a tv show or movie you really like, all the while still patting your baby. How do you do it without distracting baby, you ask? Easy, put the cot rail in the up position, sit cross-legged with one of your knees under the cot, prop iPod up with something (I use a book) just under the cot, and then you can see it, and baby is oblivious.
4. Meet with other mums. Regularly. I can’t tell you how good it is to regularly meet with a group of mums who have babies the same age as yours. You think your baby is doing something odd? Talk to the girls, it’s so reassuring. Had a little breakdown and feeling quite stupid about it? Talk to the girls, you’ll find they have too, and you are indeed, normal
5. Read some kind of parenting a baby in the fist year book. I chose to read “What to expect the fist year.” Invaluble information, and very helpful.
6. Have a nap! When baby has one of her naps, you have one too. You’re no good if you’re always cranky, half asleep and short fused.
7. Get dressed, brush your teeth, and have a shower (not in that order…). You’ll feel so much better. It’s so hard to actually do all of those things when you have a baby, but where there is a will, there is a way. You can have a shower with baby, let baby play in your room while you get dressed, and put baby in a sling while you do your hair.
8. Realise that your baby isn’t repeatedly throwing food off the table or spitting it out of her mouth just to annoy you/push your buttons (well, I don’t think that is why she does it). You will feel a lot better and calmer if you just see it as her learning about life and if she refuses to eat, stop trying to feed her and do something else.
9. Get a vaporiser. Babies can’t breathe through their mouths, so when they catch colds, they get really upset and tend to wake up a ridiculous amount of times each night. Put a vaporiser in their room (there are special kid safe ones, and waterless ones) and the number of wake ups will drastically reduce. Well, they did for both my kids. I’m talking 8+ wake ups without one and 2 with one. Worth every penny. Go for the waterless kind if your house tends to get mould.
10. Get a gym membership. At a gym with a creche (nursery/daycare/childminding, whatever you want to call it). One where the creche is included in the membership. You get to you an hour or so of you time, get fit, lose your baby weight, work off all that pent up my-child-screams-half-the-night frustration in a healthy way, and of course you get the added benefit of all those mood boosting endorphins. So it’s like a win, win, win, win, win, win, win situation. If you are in Australia, check out your local YMCA, they often have very reasonably priced memberships, including creche (and no, they didn’t pay me to say that or anything, that is just my opinion….)