A newborn baby brings unimaginable joy and happiness. They can also bring unimaginable exhaustion and stress. There are so many ups and downs the first few months with a new baby and some days time seems to drag (especially when your hubby is late coming home from work!). And yet when you look back it all went by way too fast. Here is how we survived the first month with a newborn and toddler as well as some simple things I'm doing to keep my sanity.
Knowing that time flies from my experience with my firstborn son, I have been trying to be purposeful to soak up every moment (the good and bad) with our newborn daughter. I don't want to wish away this time even when it's hard because she'll be in "the next stage" all too soon. Thankfully my recovery has been much easier than with my son and being that it's our second time around with a newborn I think we are way more relaxed about everything! I feel we've been able to just really enjoy this newborn stage. Yeah we didn't sleep for a month, yes I'm overwhelmed often, yes my toddler drives me nuts at times. But I love it. All of it.
I have to say, this Big Brother is a great helper (usually). He loves to bring things for the baby to mommy and will kiss and hug on her all day long. It's been hard for him at times learning that world doesn't revolve around him and the reality is he has to share mommy with another very needy little person. I'm so proud of how he's learning and adjusting to our new life though.
I've been purposeful about really making an effort to spend focused one on one time with him everyday while Baby naps. It's not always easy and sometimes it's only for about 10 minutes since there are about a billion other things I need to do while the baby sleeps. However I believe it has really helped him adjust well and feel that mom and dad don't love him any less! Building a block tower, coloring, playing outside together, reading books, working puzzles and cuddling on the couch are some of his favorite things to do with me. He also loves when we involve him with caring for the baby. I'll ask him to do simple tasks like give baby her pacifier or help clean up a mess and he is proud of being mommy's big helper.
This was one of the most annoying pieces of advice given to me but when I am able to follow it, it really is great advice! Having a toddler the only time I can really take this advice is during his naps. And yes there's cleaning, cooking, writing, planning, and a million other things I could do with this time but really sleep during those early weeks during postpartum recovery is one of the most important thing you can do for your body and mind! Sleep helps mom heal and recover faster, keep up a good milk supply, prevent mastitis, and keeps you (somewhat) sane. I try to prioritize taking advantage of toddler and baby's naps at least a couple times a week to sneak in a little extra rest for myself. Dishes, e-mails, laundry can wait. Snuggle your newborn and take a nap!
To ensure a good and safe nap for my baby girl I have loved having this Snuggle Me Organic baby lounger/sleeper. It has a unique sling design that cuddles her and keeps her in a safe sleeping position while also soothing her startle reflex. She sleeps so snug and sound in her Snuggle Me! I use it mostly as a safe place to set baby during the day. She naps and also has tummy time in Snuggle Me but it's also a must have for safe co-sleeping. You can learn more about the Snuggle Me Organic at their website snugglemeorganic.com.
Handsocks are also a great way to keep your baby's hands and fingers warm at night and during chilly days. These cozy hand warmers easily slip on and even help baby self-sooth. They also help prevent scratching and thumb sucking so you don't have to discourage the habit later.
I am not normally a big multi-tasker. However being a mom of two now I also find myself multi-tasking constantly! For instance, I've found that while nursing my baby I can also use that time to give my toddler some attention. He likes to sit next to me and read or drive his cars up and down my legs. I can also get some reading in during that time or return e-mails and text messages. Cleaning while I cook, folding laundry while I make phone calls, the list goes on and on. I think moms just become professional multi-taskers by necessity.
Another simple way I've found to multitask is to collect breast milk to store up for bottles while nursing! I don't like pumping and usually forget to take the time to do it. However I do like having a stash of milk saved for emergencies or last minute outings when I need to leave the baby with a sitter. This Milk Saver from Milkies is so helpful. It collects all the milk that leaks out of the non-nursing breast while you feed you baby (or pump). It fits comfortably inside my bra and I love that the new design has a cover on top to prevent spills if you lean forward while still wearing it! See our full review of Milkies Milk Saver here.
Those first 2 weeks with a newborn are always the roughest for me. It was such a blessing to have friends and family offer to bring us meals, watch our son or pick up groceries. Never turn down help and do not be afraid to ask for it! Talk to friends and family before baby comes, let them know what you think you'll need help with and whenever someone offers be humble enough to accept help. Communicate honestly with your partner too, he will want to help you but may need you to tell him exactly what it is that would be helpful. Asking for and accepting help from those around will keep you sane and allow you time to rest, bond with your baby and heal up more quickly!
Before Baby Girl arrived I prepped some very simple busy boxes and purchased a couple new toys that I could pull out keep my son entertained during the day. I only bring these out when I really need him to be quiet or occupied without me for a while. This keeps the toys exciting and special for him to play with since he can't have them whenever he wants. His favorite are the water beads! These kept him busy for hours, scooping, digging, squishing. Revelae Kids has some really fun Discovery Boxes and Kits in different themes that are great for keeping little ones occupied.
Coloring, magnetic Doodle Pads, new puzzles and "search and find" books are some other things I have in my arsenal. However there are definitely days when I just need extra peace and quiet (or a hot shower) and that's when I put baby in the swing and the toddler on the couch with a TV show! Daniel Tiger, Stinky and Dirty (on Amazon Prime) and Curious George are among his favorites.
They change so quickly in the first month! Do a newborn photo shoot within the first week, by week 3 they are already more alert and less "newborn" looking. We had a good friend and photographer come to our house and capture some shots of baby girl and I. Invest in a decent camera and keep it out and charged up during the day so it's always ready to snap up those precious moments as they happen. Make sure you back up your photos regularly, if your hard drive crashes you don't want to loose all those irreplaceable photos!
Photo Credit: Priscila Gilley Photography
Another thing I love doing is getting prints of my baby's tiny feet and hands. It could be simple as stamping them in ink on a piece of card stock but those little fingers and toes won't stay that size for long, so capture them while you can! I love making clay ornaments with my baby's feet prints and hand prints. Here is a great tutorial from A Nest For All Seasons on how to make your own baking soda clay ornament! I've also used this kit I ordered from Amazon. Its comes with everything you need and is a great option when you don't have a lot of time or energy to put into prep work but still want to have a nice keepsake of your baby's little hands and feet. These keepsakes make great gifts for grandparents too!
Photo Credit: Mama Papa Bubba
To Make A Baby Hand or Foot Print Ornament:
Photo Credit: A Nest For All Seasons
Life with two little ones under 2 isn't always easy. I've had to re-adjust my expectations for myself, learn to say no to things and figure out what my priorities are. But with a little creativity, help from others God's grace and lots of coffee we are doing well! I cherish these crazy days because I know they are going by all too fast and I will miss this when it's over.
All our opinions are exclusive to Mommy Scene & Green Scene Mom.