When a couple has a new baby, all thoughts of relaxation and leisure go out the window. Somewhere in between the piles of diapers, countless hours of missed sleep, and the growing feeling that normalcy will never come again, parents need to find a time to take a break.
Those of you with children most likely choked on your gum at that last sentence there. Taking a break with a newborn isn’t easy to accomplish, especially if the baby is your first and you haven’t figured out that you don’t have to be the perfect parent yet. There are a few ways, though, to hit the pause button on the stress of life with a newborn, even if just for a moment.
Make the shower your sanctuary. Showering can be problematic with a newborn around, as the levee of alone-time has all but dried up. If at all possible, though, make time to take a quick shower every day.
Stock your shower with lots of bath-time goodies. Buy yummy-smelling soaps and washes. Make it your own personal spa. When Junior goes down for a nap, hop in and escape the crazy, if just for three minutes. It’s amazing how good a quick rinse-off can feel.
Many new moms are worried about shedding that pesky baby weight. Don’t. No really. Just don’t. Give yourself a few weeks, if not months, to let your body rest after doing the baby-growing and birthing thing.
As part of this process, allow yourself to have a few special, beloved snacks and treats on hand. When the baby is screaming, and you feel like you may never shed that look of panic in your eyes, grab your snack, take a deep breath, and mentally escape for a moment. It’s amazing what a good bar of chocolate, or a salty bag of chips, or a buttery pastry can do for the baby-addled brain.
This isn’t to say abandon nutrition, especially if you’re breastfeeding. But allow yourself a really tasty something a few times a day as a way to cope with the stress of raising Baby.
Schedule something fun
When a new baby makes his or her arrival, it seems all normal life and schedules goes out with the garbage. Going to the store is now a three hour ordeal of diaper bag packing, baby wrangling, and quietly crying in the car at a red light (ok, hopefully not that last one.)
If at all possible, schedule a fun, short outing during the first few weeks home from the hospital. Trade off with your partner, or find a friend who can watch the baby, and go out by yourself. This doesn’t have to be a time-consuming, involved event: plan something simple like a trip to the grocery store, a pedicure, or a long walk or hike. It’s amazing what a few minutes of alone, out-of-the-house time can do for a new parent.
Talk to an adult
If you’re a new mom at home with your baby, chances are you’re eventually going to be on your own all day when your partner goes back to work. Being alone all day with a baby can feel isolating, fast. Engaging with adults can help a new mom home alone feel more like a person and less like a 24/7 milk-producing, diaper-cleaner.
Schedule at least one opportunity a day to interact with other adults. This can be a phone call, a quick lunch, a park date, etc. Make sure the contact you’re getting is either face-to-face, or at least an over-the-phone conversation. Social media is great for a lot of things, but it can actually increase feelings of isolation as it doesn’t provide any real-life interactions. Make it a point to talk to another adult, a friend or family member, at least once a day.
Buy new, comfy clothes
There’s a balance in those first few weeks for parents with a new baby when it comes to getting dressed and ready for the day. On one hand, you want to feel like a person, and shlubbing around in sweats and baggy t-shirts can feel demoralizing after weeks on end. On the other hand, who has time to wear uncomfortable, tight clothes right after you’ve had a baby?
Buy yourself some new, comfortable, cute loungewear. Grab a new set of pajamas, exercise clothes, or sweats. There’s something about not having to put on the same old stuff, even when it comes to loungewear, that can feel so good.
Having a new baby means saying ‘good-bye’ to some of the creature comforts of life, but it doesn’t mean throwing in the towel on self-care. Finding small things to alleviate stress helps make the whole process of acclimating to life with a baby so much easier to digest.