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In December of 2016, my husband and I were able to bring our little girl Kinsley into the world. As a first time mom, I have had a lot of learning to do in order to keep myself above water. While I am no parenting expert quite yet, I have learned a few tips and tricks to help keep my sanity (or at least convincingly enough) with a newborn.
- YOUR SPOUSE – My husband might be able to make the argument that I am actually not maintaining my sanity. And that is because he is there for every hormonal meltdown that has taken place since Kinsley has arrived (and all those that happened during the 9 months prior to that). Eric is constantly there for me when I am at my lowest points and he is so good at encouraging me and picking me back up. Aside from just moral support, Eric and I tag team baby duties as much as possible. It is not ever going to be 50/50, but he is always willing to step in and take over so I can rest after a long day. As a new mom, it is crucial to lean on your spouse and let them strengthen all of the areas where you are weak. You guys are partners and you don’t have to raise that baby all on your own!
- A SOUND MACHINE – I didn’t originally register for a sound machine because I thought it was frivolous or something dumb like that, but I ended up using Amazon Prime to get the HoMedics Sound Spa and man oh man this thing changed my life. Kinsley slept in a bassinet in our room for the first few months, because (1) the doctors tells you to (2) it is so much easier to not leave your room when you have to feed a child in the middle of the night. So many pros to having baby close by, but one MAJOR con is that you hear all of the noise that baby makes throughout the night. And my kid is a noisy sleeper. So the sound machine was really more for me than for Kinsley. Once that ocean wave noise started playing, I no longer heard baby snoring or what I assume is baby sleep talking. Which meant I could actually rest while she slept instead of freaking out everytime she made a noise. And now that we have used the sound machine for a while, Kinsley knows that when the white noise comes on, it is time for bed. Super win.
- A BABY ROCKER – Get a baby rocker or a swing. We use the MamaRoo and we also have a Graco Simple Sway Swing at my parents house and both of these put Kinsley to sleep in under 5 minutes. My kid fights sleep with surprising strength and sometimes I just can’t win. So if no amount of cuddling, bouncing or begging will work, I put her in the Mama Roo and she is soothed to sleep in no time. Praises to that rocker because without it, I would go most days without eating.
- A GOOD PUMP – So I don’t know if I am the only one, but I didn’t think I would need a pump until I went back to work. My plan was just to breastfeed the whole time I was on maternity leave and I wouldn’t need a pump till then. But let me tell you – that is wrong. You need a pump on day one. And a good one. I got the Medela Freestyle, and I really love it (as much as you can love a breast pump). It runs on a battery so it doesn’t need to be plugged in while you pump. So I can move from the kitchen to the living room to literally anywhere while pumping. This makes it super easy to get other chores done and multitask while at home. It is also pretty small which helps save space when I pack it in my diaper bag. I have a lot of friends who use the Medela Pump In Style and they highly recommend it. If you are using formula, get a Baby Brezza. It is like a Keurig for babies. You put the formula in the top, and the Baby Brezza puts in the perfect amount of water, mixes it and gets it to the right temperature for you. Um – thanks technology. You rock.
- MOMMY PLAYDATES – Another critical lesson I have learned as a mom, is that playdates for kids 1 and under are not for the kids. It is for the moms. I can’t tell you how much I have benefited from meeting with other new moms and getting to ask all of the questions that google can’t help you with. Once a week it is nice to get together with other moms who also have screaming babies or have to change an entire outfit while at a park because your little angel pooed with such force that it blew out up to their neck (true story). It really clarifies that everyone’s life is not actually Instagram perfect and in spite of that, your kids will all be ok. Check your local library for kid friendly activities, like Story Time or Baby Yoga, where you can meet up. Or go to a park and let the babies play on a blanket while you all discuss how everyone is surviving.
- ‘GRACE NOT PERFECTION’ – Just before I had Kinsley I read ‘Grace Not Perfection‘ by Emily Ley, who is one of my favorite bloggers. It is a wonderfully encouraging book for new moms who might have the tendency to feel like we need to know what we are doing all the time. I have referenced this book quite a bit as I try to manage work, home life, dating my husband and now a sweet baby girl. It is a super easy read and the pretty pink color will brighten any bookshelf!
- DAILY WALKS – So there are some days where Kinsley and I haven’t left the house. My little girl is a catnapper and doesn’t sleep for more than 30 minutes during her naps, which makes getting any ‘me-time’ seem impossible. But I have discovered that she will nap as long as she is in a moving car seat. So I try to take a walk around the neighborhood every day because it gets us out of the house (which forces me to put on pants) and it helps me get some ‘me-time’. Even if Kinsley doesn’t nap during the walk, she is at least entertained by all the sights and I don’t feel like I am neglecting her at all while I get a little exercise. If it is really rainy or cold where you live, go to a mall and walk around. It might sound weird at first, but you will notice quite a few other moms stroller-pushing around!
- MEAL PREPPING – Due to aforementioned catnapping, there have been quite a few days where I didn’t eat till my husband got home. So meal prepping on the weekends became essential for me to have quick and easy meals to grab when I only had 5 minutes to eat in between feedings and naps. I made a bunch of freezer friendly breakfast tacos that I could reheat in the microwave and that became a dietary staple. I am also a huge fan of getting a rotisserie chicken on Sundays and using that for quick meals (like chicken pasta) throughout the week. If you are able, do set up a meal train for your first month at least. You will have many people offer to bring you food and I highly recommend you take them up on it. Our church group does an awesome meal train for growing families and it really helped us out the first two months!
- A SHOWER – This seems so simple, and maybe so simple that you might feel inclined to skip the shower, but don’t. Not because you need to smell nice (because you won’t due to constant spit up and poopy diapers), but because it is 5-15 minutes each day that are just yours. One of the first things I would do each day when Eric came home from work was pass off Kinsley to him so I could get a shower. It does feel nice to be clean (that will only last for 5 minutes after your shower), but I really just needed to have that time where I was not responsible for anything and I could collect my thoughts, or not think at all. So for your sanity, don’t skip your shower. Bonus points if you can make the time for a bubble bath.
- ALL THE BABY CUDDLES – Even on the hardest days, when I haven’t eaten and baby won’t stop crying and all of the poopy diapers were blowouts – getting to snuggle with Kinsley makes it all so worth it. In those early weeks when I was only getting 2-4 hours of sleep a night, all it took was one look from her and I was tired anymore. Whenever you need a pick me up, just cuddle that baby. It is amazing how quickly you forget how hard newborns can be when they smile at you or hold onto your finger. It is almost enough to make you start thinking about having another one!
If you have any other tips for staying sane with a newborn, I would love to hear them! You can never have too many tricks with babies!