Nobody prepares you for life with a newborn. Sure, you’ve heard the stories. The “you’ll never sleep again,” and the “get ready to have stacks of laundry pile up,” but when you actually come home with a newborn in your arms, those stories don’t prepare you for what is ahead of you. There is a lot of stress, yes, and a lot of learning. However, there is also a lot of beauty, sweet moments, and of course, cuddles.
One thing that a lot of people don’t tell you? The newborn days will be some of your favorite days. You will stare at your newborn for hours on end, and you will worry that you are not doing everything “right,” because they deserve the very best. It doesn’t matter if you are getting less sleep than usual, or if your home is covered in laundry and thrown aside burp cloths. These days are beautifully messy and deserve to be cherished.
Sometimes, the stress can get to you, though, and you will feel overwhelmed. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, or the “I need to find a routine” mindset, or the thoughts that you aren’t doing things perfectly. There’s also postpartum depression and anxiety and rage, which are things that are not really discussed as much as they should be. But, if you focus on the good, and try to address (and fix) the harder moments, you can really make the most out of this stage, each and every single day.
With that being said, I think that sometimes in motherhood, we need to take it day by day, or even hour by hour. If you are worried about how the newborn stage will go for you, or if you are in the thick of it and struggling, I hope this post helps just a bit. Let’s talk about how to make the most of your day with a newborn –
Focus on soaking in these moments
Your laundry will be there for days and months and even years if you don’t touch it, but you know what won’t be there for long? Your newborn. Babies don’t keep and this time goes by in the blink of an eye. Seriously – you will turn around and notice that your baby has grown so much in the matter of minutes. It can be hard to do when you feel like you need to get things done, but try your best to focus on soaking in these moments with your new baby. You can never get them back and you do not want to look back on this special time and wish that you were more present. Rock your baby, cuddle your baby, and help them through their first milestones. The newborn days won’t last long. Step back and appreciate the moments, even amid the chaos.
Roll with the punches
With a newborn, each day will be different. One day might be picture perfect, with long naps and small accomplishments. Maybe you showered, did your hair, and your baby even smiled for the first time! Now, that is a good day. The next day might be the complete opposite. You might be walking around with old milk stains on your shirt, and your baby might be so fussy. Those days are really, really tough for even the most experienced mom, but what you need to remember is that you are doing an amazing job. Rolling with the punches is very, very important as a mom (in general), but especially as a new mother. Things do not (and will not) need to be perfect. Every day is different, just as every baby is different. The sooner you understand this and embrace it, the sooner your days will become much more positive and less stressful.
Find a community that supports you
Motherhood can feel isolating at times, so finding a community that supports you is absolutely essential. Maybe this is family, old friends, or people that you just met. No matter who it is, find a tribe that will support you on your best days, and on your hardest days. Hopefully, they will also offer to help you, and when they do, make sure that you accept that help. Suggest holding the baby, folding the laundry or running a few errands – whatever would help you the most. Sometimes it may just be helpful to have human interaction other than your little bundle of joy, my favorite afternoons would be when my girlfriends would come over and just sit with me for a little bit. If you don’t have as much local support, or even local mamas to talk to I would suggest joining an online group. I’m in 4 and I love them, it helps reassure you when you aren’t sure about the little things (and I’m one of the first of our friends to have a baby!).
Take care of your needs
It can feel very challenging as a mother to put yourself first, but I believe that it’s essential. Resist the urge to count caffeine as a major food group or a substitute for sleep. Instead, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and get some fresh air daily. Walker and I would go to Home Depot and zig zag through the isles just to get out of the house since it was too hot to be outside in the midst of summer, we improvised!
Sleep when you can, maybe even call in help from one of those in your support group to hold the baby so you can take a power nap. Good habits will help you maintain the energy you need to care for your newborn. It is SO easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole and think that you are failing your child or doing something wrong, but I ask you- do you love your child? If yes, you are doing everything perfect mama! Another aspect that you need to consider is your mental health. It’s normal to feel anxious, depressed, or even angry and sad as a new mom. Postpartum depression is no joke and I personally felt the effects of it my first week home. If you feel like you are experiencing postpartum depression, it’s better that you ask for help, before you truly need it. Getting help can make your motherhood experience so much better and it’s really important that you feel your best both physically and mentally. If you need help, reach out to your doctor, or a professional counselor, such as the ones at Ray of Hope Counseling Services. They offer therapy in Peachtree City, Smyrna, Canton, Kennesaw, Marietta, and quite a few other locations all around Georgia. They also offer online therapy, which is greatly beneficial to new moms who do not have time to leave the house, or do not feel ready to do so. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other mental health battle, I urge you to seek help. There are so many different approaches to counseling and I promise you that it’s a safe place to talk about anything that might be going on. Making sure that YOU are well, physically and mentally will allow you to be the best mother you can be for your little one.
Get creative when it comes to getting things done
At some point, you will actually need to get things done. You cannot sit on the couch soaking up the snuggles every single day (even if you want to!). While I do think that you need to take it easy as much as possible during the first weeks, sometimes you need to cook dinner, finish up a work project, or do a load of laundry, and that’s when you might need to get creative with getting things done. Like I mentioned, every baby is different. Some babies will let you get things done while doing tummy time, or rocking in a swing. Some will nap great in the crib! Other times, you might have to try wearing your baby (this was a life saver for my friend, Alex) to get things done. Whatever works for you, is the way to do it!
Motherhood is a journey and each day is a huge blessing. How do you make the most of your day with a newborn? There is no right or wrong answer(s) – each person and each family is so unique in their own beautiful way. All of you are doing an amazing job!