The key to surviving life with a newborn

The key to surviving life with a newborn is low expectations.
Lower.
Even lower.
There you go.

Remember all those things you had imagined pre-baby, you know that picture of you putting your little one down for a nap and then having lots of time to do things for yourself.  Maybe you hoped to be able to take a course, learn how to knit, exercise, look for a new house or even plan a reno.

Then when your baby is here and you realise, okay, maybe it was too much. Maybe I can hold off on some of these things. That’s a good thing, because you realized it was time to lower your expectations of yourself and your baby.

Young businesswoman holding newborn crying babe while sitting with laptop and touching head with pained expression. Career mom suffering from migraine after working on pc and nursing crying child

Now you might think, “I’m home all day. I need to clean the house, do laundry, get groceries and make dinner!”

Sigh… I’m telling you it’s ok to let that go too. Life with a newborn is hard. The sleep deprivation is nothing like that all-nighter you pulled in school, or shift-work you’ve done. Your baby is probably nothing like that idyllic, sweet (and sleeping!) cherub you might have imagined. It’s mind-blowing how a day home with a baby can feel like the longest day of your life and yet zip by so fast that when your partner gets home from work asking about dinner, you realize you never finished breakfast, much less brushed your teeth for the day.

So, let it go. It’s okay. There’s a good reason why some cultures practise 40 days of rest and recovery for new mothers.

If the day comes to an end and baby was fed, you were fed, it was a good day. Did you keep your baby safe today? Great job mama.

Mother kissing sleeping baby in armsNo matter how much you knew about babies and how prepared you felt, it will take time to adjust. Eventually you will be able to do more around the house, and I hope, eventually you will be able to get back into your course/learning how to knit or whatever it was that you were excited to try out. But for now, take care of yourself and your baby. Give yourself permission to slack in other areas of your life. There will be good days and some not-so-good days where you’ll eat frozen dinners because there’s no fresh food in the house.

Take the time to get to know your baby. Take the time to learn how to breastfeed. It’s okay if your baby needs to be held all day, and it’s normal if your baby fusses all evening. Say no to unhelpful visitors and <gasp!> ask for help. Manage your expectations. Embrace being a “good enough parent” because perfection here is impossible. Find other new parents to laugh and share stories with…  it’s good for the soul.

If you are looking for more support, connect with us. We’d love to hear from you:

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About Andrea Scott RN

I’m a public health nurse with the HaltonParents team – you’ll find me blogging, tweeting and answering emails. I’ve been working for the Halton Region Health Department since 2006 and my focus has been on supporting parents with babies and little kids. I have two little ones myself, “Pumpkin” and “Monkey” who give me plenty to blog about! :)
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