Those first couple of days after delivery you're being waited on hand and foot by a group of nurses who try to make the healing process bearable. No worries about cooking yourself dinner or having to stay up to late for a newborn. There’s always a nurse or doctor checking on you and your child, changing a diaper if necessary, helping you to feed your child. Essentially, there's always a staff member doing things that normally you would've done on your own.
In reality, the staff is setting you up for a hard week once you go home. If your baby was screaming because she or he was hungry--and you're hungry, you just push the button that calls the nurse. How I miss that button! The first few days after coming home from the hospital are the hardest imaginable. You have to find a way to set yourself up so that once you walk through your front door, you're prepared and able of doing everything after everyone's gone.
You’re going to feel overwhelmed and inadequate about multiple things during these first few weeks--and that's okay, you're going to be peed on and your baby will probably have times when you can't console him or her. Fussiness is now a deciding factor on if you can get anything cleaned, or a nap...or a bath.
The good news is depending on the type of schedule you keep, your daily tasks won't be too bad. Also, there are things you can do before you go into labor that make your first week at least slightly easy. Because no matter what, with a sore hoo-haw or a sliced belly, nothing's really going to be simple until you’re completely healed. So, here's a cheat sheet for being home with your baby.
7 Prepare the House
Usually before the baby's arrival, couples prepare the nursery with a beautiful crib--a meltdown about wallpaper--and cute little stuff animals littered around the baby's room. You think about them sleeping in the nursery, but what about the rest? Who wants to clean up when your back hurts and you can't put on shoes? Not me! My house was an evacuation disaster zone. I wasn't prepared for a month early delivery!
But my mom knew what I needed.--my house cleaned! She knew I needed the type of cleaning where nothing escapes the broom or the wet cloth, the corners in the hallway, under the couch, even the inside of the cabinets. You will to, it’s knowing you're coming home to do nothing. You finally get to step into a freshly scrubbed bath tub and soak after those four days in the hospital.
Take advantage of the sympathy card and use it!
Anticipate the possibility of maybe not getting everything done before you have your little one. Call in reinforcements, mother-in-law, mother, sisters, brothers and your best friend. Have a cleaning party and offer alcoholic beverages, great food, laughter, and music. That guarantees everyone will show up.
Ask someone to do a wipe down in the main rooms while you're in the hospital. I don't know how you feel about another person washing your underwear, but having laundry done would be nice. Trash day, maybe ask the neighbor--if you’re a neighborly type of person--to grab your cans on trash day for you. The point is to walk into your home without worrying about cleaning it for a few days. Plus, it's cleaning, no one likes to clean.
6 Freezer Food
Pizza is only appetizing for so many days in a row, after a while a good home cook meal is what the stomach craves. So prepare a few favorites, and maybe even some new recipes and freeze them. Think about the food you eat most weeks, and then buy a few aluminum pans with covers, a sharpie and get to work.
If a friend or family member has had a baby before you, you can ask them what recipes freeze the best and make those dinners. You might even consider making dinners that can be made in a slow cooker so you just place the items and then leave it.
Having meals prepared ahead of time will make you feel smart and glad you don't actually have to cook anything now.
If your lucky friends and family will give you food for the first week, that way you can save your frozen meals for the second week. Two weeks of prepared dinners may sound boring, but you have breakfast and lunch for freshly made meals. Look for foods that can last in the freezer for long periods or the best meals to have after giving birth.
5 Mommies Helper
What every new mom wants is someone to run errands for her. Being well prepared is a step forward in new motherhood. Ask those close to you for a little extra help for the upcoming weeks. Try to plan out the month for those willing to assist you with a few errands.
Whether it's to go grocery shopping alone to breath or an extra pair of hands to juggle the baby while bringing in some food, maybe you just want to take a long bath and a nap. When it comes to cleaning the house, a maid service would be grand, but for most of us, mom is the answer.
Organize a helping crew for the first couple of weeks you're home with your newborn
Having an outlet just to ramble with might be in order on a Wednesday night, and scrubbing the floor on Thursday. Just ask! If it's easier for your family and friends, pick a day or two out the week for some help. An hour of time to do interrupted work does wonders for the soul. Fair warning--unwanted advice is the draw back to asking for help.
Be nice and just nod your head. Use it or don’t use it, but try not to hurt someone feelings. They might stop helping!
This is hard because it really depends upon the season and weather. Suggesting going on walks is great advice I received, but a walk in the winter with a newborn isn’t really advised. So, a good rule of thumb to consider is, if your freezing, then your baby will be twice as cold as you are. Yes bundling could keep them warm, but it could also cause him or her to sweat, a sick baby is scary.
Find an indoor gym for mothers or go to the mall and walk around during the cold months with your baby. It prevents cabin fever by getting you out of the house, and gives you a chance to do a little window shopping at the same time.
Don't do anything stressful, just go for a walk
Spring, summer and fall seasons are great for a stroll through the park or neighborhood. Fresh air is good for the brain and the sun provides some much needed vitamins. Wear sunblock on both you and your baby. Walking is great exercise for new mommies and it helps with the sensory development for the baby. Win-win.
3 Play Group
Finding a mommy and me class isn't just for the child, it's so parents can have adult interaction a few times a month. You can only watch so much Disney Jr before you want to pull out your hair. You think you can handle it, but you can't.
You'll crave adult conversation after a few weeks of only baby talk. The plus side is you’re able to discuss your baby troubles with women who are going through the same thing. No judgement, just moms talking about diarrhea and spit up, how hairy their legs are and what intimacy use to be before a baby was sleeping in the bed with them. You'll need it. Believe me, unfiltered honesty with a friend is soothing.
Play groups can help you unwind in ways you never thought possible
The women you meet in the play group might become your new best friends, and their children the best friends of your child. Social interaction isn't just good for you, but it also benefits your child in many ways as well.
2 Mommy's Day Out
Everyone has different financial standings, luckily this helpful coping mechanism can be done very cheaply. You'll come to a point when you may or may not decide to go back to work. Maybe, you have to go back for the extra income, or maybe you're able to stay home indefinitely. Either way, the decision is based on what's best for your family, there’s no right or wrong answer.
For those of you who are going back to work, it doesn't count as "me" time contrary to popular beliefs. Grocery shopping, laundry day, any kind of errand running is not considered "me" time. In fact, if it involves the productivity of your household, just because the baby isn't with you, doesn't mean it's a break. Most people won't understand and will probably make comments.
Do something for you, even if it's a simple pleasure
"Me time" is a period of time when you, as a new mom, get to just sit and not think about anything pressing. Hopefully your significant other will give you one day a month or more to just rest. Go get a mani/pedi, sit in the park and read a book, sit in the backyard and just breathe. As a new mom you need some time to yourself to shut down all those fears and worries. Where for a moment being just you, instead of mom or wife, is front and center.
You'll always be a mom, but remembering the woman you were before the pregnancy is important too. That's the woman who is sometimes forgotten when breaking fevers and doing chores. She's the glue, keep stoking the flame of light to keep her alive.
1 Bonding Time
The importance of bonding is drilled into you over the 9 months of pregnancy. Once the baby is born, you hear about skin-to-skin contact and not interrupting feeding time. Let’s be honest, usually the bond is developed through every day actions anyway. Develop your bonding time by doing simple things, instead just holding the baby for long periods before and after feeding, you can lay beside your baby on the floor or bed.
Make a pallet on the floor and lay close to your child while taking a nap together. Read a book with your newborn's head resting on your chest. That way the vibration from your voice and your heartbeat soothes the baby to sleep. Calming candles and low lighting help relax everyone. Consider putting a rocking chair in a quiet corner where you can search online and hold your baby comfortably.
There’s this misconception surrounding the first week when mom and baby first come home, people expect that you've taken to motherhood naturally and everything is perfect. Unless you're a second time mom, this is the farthest thing from the truth. In fact, even though you're extremely tired, everything has to be figured out through trial and error. The rest of the work begins when the doors are opened and the baby bag is set on the floor.
You can do more than just hold your baby to bond with them
The phone will be ringing off the hook and you will be trying to figure out if you should sleep or…what. That’s how your brain works, drawing blanks 20 times a day. As a parent we're no longer able to just go with the flow. Going out of the door is always a twenty minute event, because quick is no longer possible when you have to make sure you've got all the diapers, bottles, and blankets that you need.
Learning new tricks that save you time helps to make your life easier. Smile mommy, it’s what we signed up for, figuring out the small details is all that's required to stay sane on most days. Those other days, you've got 10 minutes to cry it out, and then it’s back to work. We got children to raise.