Coming home with a new baby for the first time is wonderful…and scary too! Suddenly you’re in charge of another life, but you need to take care of yourself too. Here are a bunch of tips from “real” moms:

Swaddling & White Noise

The womb is not a quite place, in fact, I recall reading that it’s as loud as a vacuum cleaner!  It’s also extremely confining.  For most babies, wrapping them in a tight swaddle can help them fall asleep and stay asleep.  A fan (we used a humidifier, without water in the summer) can help make enough noise that it helps drown out things like dogs, phones and doorbells.

  • Don’t keep your house super quiet when the baby is sleeping.
  • Blackout curtains
  • Establish a bedtime routine that you do every night to signal that it’s night night time for baby.

Be Social

Many women end up alone with their baby for long periods of time during the day.  Make sure you get out!  Enjoy some fresh air, join a mom group or take a class.  Don’t feel alone, because you’re not.

Get out of the house every day, even if it’s just for a walk or to sit outside. Fresh air is important. Some days I’d just sit on my front step and watch the world go by, or sit in a sunny spot outside and close my eyes.

YOU Are The Expert

There are many ways to raise a child.  Some will make a lot of sense to you, others will seem way off.  The perfect way to raise your child is the one that makes sense for you, your child, and your partner.

Read parenting books, ask questions of others, then consider your unique situation and do what works best and makes sense to you.  Writing a book on parenting does not many anyone an expert on your child.  You need to take in the suggestions and information and then do what fits you and your child.

Don’t think everything is going to go by the book all the time. Trust your own judgment and instincts. Listen to the advice of others and filter it to suit you. Treasure every minute because you will not believe how quickly it goes by and the next thing you know they are little independent people who might not want to sit and just snuggle.

Trust yourself, you know best. You and your husband make the rules together. Be flexible with schedule, don’t be so serious, and sleep whenever you can. Most important, Nurse as long as possible, it will make a huge difference in the long term health of your baby.

Rest, Sleep and You Time

When you have an infant, your first job is to take care of your child.  You second job is to take care of yourself.  Housework, yard work, made-from-scratch meals, and your boss can wait. If you don’t get enough sleep you won’t do a good job taking care of your child.  This is especially true if you have a child with colic or reflux. They will cry.  A lot.  And it will get on your nerves.  If you are not property rested you are more likely to snap.

Unfortunately, I say this from experience.  My first son had silent reflux (burns coming up and going back down, there is no spit up) and took 30-minute naps until he was around 9 or 10 months old.  I was so exhausted after several months of this that I apologized to my husband for wanting a child, and told him maybe we should find our son some other parents as I could not handle being his mom.  My mom flew down  that weekend, and I slept as much as possible.

He’s a teenager now, and thankfully when he was four we felt brave enough to have a second child. My second child did not have reflux or colic…and I put getting enough sleep at a higher priority than doing what the books said! I even hired a sleep consultant to give me guidance when he was waking up a lot.  She was extremely helpful and gave me advice that worked after listening and asking lots of questions.  If you need help she’s only a phone call away – Noelle Cochran [email protected] (and she costs about as much as a few parenting books).

  • Get out as much as possible-even if it’s just sitting in the sun for a few minutes
  • Take a shower, get dressed, and put on some mascara and a pair of earrings.  You want to like what you see in the mirror – you are hormonal and tired, don’t give yourself a reason to feel bad about yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t worry about what other moms may or may not think of you.
  • When folks offer help say yes. No need to be a martyr and do it all. Promise – the baby won’t remember you weren’t the one holding it 24/7, and the baby always comes back to you.

Enjoy The Ride

I’ve heard before that “the days are long but the years are short” and I think that perfectly describes motherhood.  We are very focused on the next feeding, what’s for dinner, is the homework done, put the laundry away, errands, and all the other day-to-day trappings of life. That’s inevitable when you’re responsible for the lives of others. The next thing you know a month has gone by, and you’re staring at the date in total shock. It’s hard, but do your best to enjoy the moment as the moment won’t last. Take a lot of pictures, and back them up (I use Mozy.com and have easily recovered files).

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff! Enjoy every minute because one day you wake up and they are teenagers and you want to send them back where they came from.
  • Hold the damn baby and don’t worry about putting it down. The baby will be a child before you can blink. Just Hold it. Screw housework.
  • Try not to take yourself or parenting too seriously. It’s the most important job you’ll ever have but keeping everything in perspective makes it a little bit easier. Kids get sick, scrape their knees, test limits and drive you insane but with love, patience (still learning this one) and a little bit of common sense you’ll all turn out ok!
  • Don’t freak when you realize you are freaking about everything. With motherhood comes some insanity. You are responsible for an entire new person.

I hope that helps a few of you.  If I can help you in your parenting journey please let me know.  And if you have a great tip to share please add it via a comment.