Back to “Normal” After Baby
The summer was ending, and with it, my after-baby bubble. The freezer meals and visitors with baby gifts and casseroles were finished. My teacher/husband was getting ready to go back to school, and in so doing left me to get my oldest off to school, my son to preschool, and to figure out how my newborn and I fit into this new picture. It felt overwhelming. We had to figure out what our new normal was going to feel like and how we were going to make everything happen that needed to happen. There were some missteps for sure, but we finally found our groove.
And while there's no normal that fits everyone, there were a few things that really helped us find our balance.
Here are five things that can help you find your after-baby “normal.”
1. Family Schedules
For me, it helped to see it all laid out. My husband bought me a big desk calendar, but I put it up on my kitchen wall — Mommy's schedule in green, Daddy's in blue, and kids' activities in pink, orange, and purple respectively. (We can talk about my OCD and my control issues with anyone else touching my calendar another time…)
Each Sunday night, we sit down together and plot out the week's events — who needs to be where when and who will be taking them there. Since I was breastfeeding, Baby was with me 90% of the time, unless I wasn't going to be gone more than an hour or so. Planning everything out so that I could give myself extra time in the event of a blowout diaper, meltdown, or impromptu nursing session made me feel a lot more in control. (Hmm, that control word again — we may be uncovering a personality flaw, here.)
2. Advanced Preparation
There's nothing worse than trying to throw things together as you run out the door, especially with a newborn! One of the best things for me was to pre-prep things I would need for the next morning the night before. I'm not sure if everyone's mornings are as crazy as our family's, but I'd be willing to make that bet.
In our house, by the time everyone is up, eaten, changed, hair brushed, teeth brushed, bundled up, and ready to walk out the door, there has been at least one meltdown. Laying out outfits the night before and getting completed homework to make it ALL the way back to their backpacks takes a lot of the frazzled moments out of our morning. I can't very well find a missing sock while I'm nursing a baby, so getting that out of the way the evening before is critical to preventing a 6-year-old's panic attack. (I may have passed down some of those control issues …)
Also, a pre-packed diaper bag that you can grab on your way out the door really minimizes those moments when you're caught with a full shopping cart, a stinky diaper, and no wet wipes!
3. Back-Up Plan
As much as I hate to admit it, even the best-laid plans fail sometimes when you throw a newborn into the mix. Someone gets sick or colic sets in, and you may have to change your plans at the drop of a hat. Try and have a backup plan, someone you can call to pinch hit for you, or drive an older child to practice if you can't make it. Talk to your neighbors or other parents at your children's activities to see if you can swap helping each other out in a pinch.
4. Permission to Bail
This part was super hard for my controlling nature. Sometimes, no matter what you do, things are going to have to fall by the wayside. If you don't get to this year's PTA bake sale, it will be OK. You are a new momma, and new babies just simply need their mommas! There will be days that you need to call and say “I'm sorry — I just can't.”
5. Lots of Love and Understanding
Having a newborn is emotionally and physically draining for everyone in the family. Older siblings are sure to feel a bit of jealousy at sharing more of Mom's and Dad's time. Mom is probably feeling worn out and sleep deprived, and Dad likely has been taking on more of the load as well. Everyone is bound to be a little emotionally raw.
Try to recognize this in each other and make sure you love on each other just as much as you're loving on your new little one. Growing a family is bound to cause some growing pains, but nothing worth having tends to come easily!
Enjoy your new little one, and while there's no formula for getting “back to normal,” hopefully these tips will help you acclimate to your “new normal” a little quicker!
What helped you reach a new “normal” after your new little one? Did your spouse get to take a maternity/paternity leave? Tell us in the comments!Read More