When you become a mother, it can be easy to fall into a mindset that you are the sole provider for your new baby. You will likely find yourself burning the candle at both ends, trying to do it all. This kind of mindset will very quickly make you lose your marbles! While it is true that you are likely the most important person in that little one’s life, for now, all of the work doesn’t need to fall on your shoulders. The following steps can help you keep your sanity as a new mom so that you can more fully enjoy this season of your life.
1. Include Your Partner
Including the child’s dad in everyday tasks is essential to your baby and his father. The bonding that takes place during daily activities is irreplaceable. Things like tummy time, baths, storytime, and bedtime are great ways dad can participate in the everyday tasks of raising a baby as well as provide you a priceless half hour to regain your sanity. Take this time to do something that recharges your batteries.
As a new mom, sharing responsibilities with your partner is essential to keeping your sanity. When I decided to let my husband help me with these things, I wanted to jump right in at the slightest sign of a struggle. If I heard fussing (from either my son or his dad), I would run to the rescue, at the cost of my “me time.” So, I started removing myself from the situation by going out of earshot. This also took some adjusting on my husband’s part. If I removed myself, he would summon me for the slightest issue. I handled this by gently reminding him that this is a learning experience for us both and that I trusted him to use his best judgment to handle whatever issue was at hand.
After a week or so, I can honestly say we were all much happier. My son was over the moon with the one-on-one attention he was receiving from his dad. My husband felt appreciated because he was able to help me after not being able to help with so many other things (breastfeeding, sleepless days, my healing body, and balancing hormones). And I was beside myself with joy at the increments of freedom I had to relax fully. Eventually, you’ll even be able to call up the girls and go out for a movie or a cocktail. Now that’s a great way to keep your sanity as a new mom!
2. Eating, Showering, and Using the Restroom Cannot Be Put Off
One thing I quickly learned as a new mom (especially a breastfeeding new mom) is that I had to eat. It sounds like a no brainer, but when you are caught up in sleeping as long as you can, feeding your new baby, and trying to get them to sleep, you might find that it has been many hours since you last ate something. Your body needs nutrients both to heal itself after childbirth and to maintain your energy to take care of your little one. If you are breastfeeding, eating will be even more critical, as your body burns an extra 500 calories or so per day.
Showering can also become one of the lowest priorities. Even if my son didn’t need anything at all, I couldn’t wrap my mind around leaving him unsupervised for 15 minutes while I showered. Even if he was safe in his bassinet, I just wasn’t comfortable with it. The same goes for using the restroom, which is inevitable. Something had to give, or I would lose my sanity for sure.
I had to learn how to give myself the time to do these essential things without fear. I had been told, “if the baby is warm, fed, dry, and in a safe place, they’ll be okay for a little while.” Holding fast to these words, I climbed nervously into the shower and began to relax . . . for about 3 minutes. When my son started to cry, I jumped out of the shower and ran, soaking wet, to the bassinet. Of course, my son was safe and sound. It took some practice, but after a while, I let my son fuss a bit while I did my business. And guess what? He survived, and so did I. This leads me to my last point.
3. Teach Your Child to Trust You
I began to be able to shower and use the restroom and do various other tasks over time because I built a trust with my son. Being away from him for short periods and then returning to comfort him and meet his needs showed him that I will always be there to take care of him. He began to understand that there is no need to panic if he cannot see me. He began to realize that if he gets hungry or needs to be changed or comforted, I will be there—every time.
I practiced this with him a little bit every day. I would change his diaper then lay him in his crib while I went to wash my hands. Later, I would put him in his swing and do something like take the trash out. Every day I extended the amount of time I was away from him a little more. I would change his diaper, then wash my hands and get a cup of coffee. The next day I would wash my hands, get a cup of coffee then get dressed. Within a few days, I was able to put my son in his swing and make dinner. He would only fuss once or twice and would be completely fine once I walked into the room.
There’s no doubt that your little one needs you more than anybody. You are the most critical person in their small world, and your responsibilities are enormous. But don’t let becoming a mother allow you to sacrifice your sanity. As a new mom, it’s easy to forget that your child needs you to take care of yourself to take care of them. So if you are starting to feel a bit frazzled, give these tips some consideration and remember to provide yourself with what you need to maintain your health and happiness. And if you’re looking for some postpartum essentials for you and baby, read here.