I’m in the thick of newborn life again. And while I am LOVING being at home (I’d love to say not being at work, but I’m still doing two of my three jobs from home. Yes, yes I am insane), I do find these early weeks of newborn life are a bit like Groundhog Day. Same shit, different day. Get up, feed (well in our case, attempt to feed. The only time this kid cries is when he sees a boob coming at his face. The only boy on Earth to not want to be near boobs. I get they’re a bit used buddy, but shit, at least be polite and humour me), deal with bodily excretions, make goofball faces and get deadpan looks in return, play on the playmat (that’s me, he just sits there staring at me like I’m a dick), rush around madly doing the washing, cooking, cleaning and other kid wrangling while the baby is asleep. Rinse and repeat.
If I’m perfectly honest, while I love my cherubs, I don’t love this newborn phase. It’s not the sleep deprivation, or the boob problems, or the hopeless re-runs of Dr. Phil I’m subjected to (it’s like a car crash… I just can’t look away….), but I realise it’s the monotony of it all. That it’s always the same, and it’s around the clock.
So I thought there’s probably more of us out there, who don’t love newborns (I try to love this squishy little phase, I do. But, give me a toddler any day. Maybe. On second thought give me a 10 year old, until they hit 13 and then they can come back when they’re an adult. We’ll skip all the crap in between), and maybe struggle a bit with Groundhog day. So here’s some tips for us all:
1. Try to find your groove that works for you (emphasis on this!) as soon as you can. Newborns have this knack of throwing all your nicely manicured routines out the window. It’s like they know you want to do something, so they metaphorically shit on your plans. Or even literally, it’s a distinct possibility. But getting a loose routine helps you to feel so much better. And gives you a chance to maybe take some time for yourself and do something a little different in your day.
I’ve always followed The Baby Whisperer’s (Tracy Hogg) EASY routine. Eat, Activity, Sleep and the most important part.. YOU. Even if you’re demand feeding you can follow this routine. It’s not about clock watching, or being totally regimented, it’s more so you have a groove cracking, you know what’s coming up next and it eliminates that panic of ‘what the fuck do I do next?’ that often can crop up when baby starts wailing.
We’ve spoken before about taking time out for you, and sometimes (gasp!) even putting yourself first. These early weeks and months can be hectic, you need to look after you. There’s no gold stars for being a martyr. Not showering for two weeks doesn’t mean you’re the world’s most dedicated mum, it means you’re probably sporting some fierce BO and feeling crusty as all hell. Also, you time doesn’t mean time to do all the washing and cleaning. It means doing something you enjoy! Speaking of which….
2. Find something you enjoy! When you ‘re at home all day, every day, you can go a bit cray cray. And do the nae nae. Sorry- the opening was there and I took it. I’d say it’ll never happen again but you and I both know it will. And as an aside- what the hell is this nae nae shit? Why? Whhhyyyyyyyy??
As usual, I digress. When I was home on leave with Miss SP, I took up the gorgeous Chantelle (AKA: Fat Mum Slim)’s photo a day challenge. Because I’ve always loved photography, I’d lost touch with it over the years, and I wanted to do something outside of babies and house stuff. It gave me something to think about every day and it made me start to look at everything differently. It was great- and now I’m hooked and wishing I could just take photos every day. Wait, I kinda already do. You get my gist.
3. Get moving. Some how, some way, get some exercise in. Doesn’t have to be a huge amount, and you don’t need to start training for a marathon, but a little bit of exercise each day works wonders for the newborn fog. Low impact, low intensity stuff doesn’t stress your already depleted body out, but it is just enough to shake things up, release the happy juices and give you a much needed energy boost. It seems totally counter-intuitive, but exercise even when feeling exhausted, will leave you feeling better. I see it as the lesser of two evils. I either whinge about exercising, or whinge even more when I haven’t done it.
Throw the baby in the pram and go for a walk, throw on a YouTube exercise clip while the baby is chilling out, hold bub and do laps of the house, or baby lunges- a win win if bub is unsettled. Head out to a Mother and baby fitness class. Have hand weights by the couch and once you’ve fed bub and popped them down maybe just pick the weights up and do some quick reps. Anything that gets you moving.
4.Sleep when the baby sleeps– Take it easy– I’m gonna re-word this bad boy because once you have subsequent kids? Bahahahahahahahaha *breathe* hahahahahahahaha. Sleep when the baby sleeps is null and void. For me, even with one bub I couldn’t sleep during the day. Just part of my messed up charm. So another way to look at it is take it easy, rest where you can. Go to bed as early as you possibly can in prep for overnight feeds. Sure, you may end up pouting and dropping the bottom lip when you finally get a chance to sit and relax, only to realise you have to go to bed like a fucking toddler. But it’s much better than pushing through, and then spending the next day feeling like your eyes are crossing while you’re standing up. Not that I’d know anything about this phenomena, because I take it easy and all. *cough*
5. Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re not getting the hang of it as fast as your friend Maxine down the road, it’s ok. You’ll get there. Your bub is different to hers, and your body is different too. You might take longer to recover, you might have more issues with feeding, your bub might not cry as much- it’s all ok. Linked in with this is lowering your expectations. You don’t have to be supermum, you don’t have to have all the answers. It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to be annoyed and over it. It’s even ok to be bored with the mundane samey samey shit.
6. Prep, prep and more prep where you can. This is mainly when you’re juggling multiple kids, or you’ve gone back to work. Preparing things ahead of time is so so helpful. Getting clothes out and ready the night before, lunches prepped the second the kids roll in the door from school, do shit right then and there, rather than waiting until later. I’ve even taken to getting the breakfast bowls out and placing the girls’ cereal in a snap lock bag, so as to make it easy in the morning, keep the cereal fresh and minimise noise. Because seriously that god damned cereal packet is noisy at 5am. Have you tried to extrapolate nutri grain silently without the fucking plastic singing the song of its people? Impossible.
7. THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT OF ALL. Remember- this is just a temporary phase. It’s ok to tread water and groundhog day it. There’s plenty of time to get all the things done, and plenty of time for you to sort your stuff out. Sometimes it’s ok to just merely get through the day and exist, even if that day seems to be on repeat for weeks and weeks on end.
These tips are good not just for new Mamas, but for everyone. We can all have that grey zone groundhog shit going on. We just need to tweak a few things to cope. And if you’re trying all these things, but Groundhog day seems like it’s just getting on top of you- definitely go and have a chat to your GP, or give a support line a call or even sign up for e-couch or mood gym– free, self-paced and you can do it from your couch.
What are your top points for Ground hog day?