This is part of our Real Series where we will be diving into topics to offer helpful insight in all stages of pregnancy and parenthood. Today, join us for the Real Postpartum: 9 lesser known tips for life with baby.
In no particular order, we are so excited to share 9 solid tips for feeling like you have your new parent role on lockdown. This isn't about healing from birth, or feeding tips, or newborn behavior. This is strictly for postpartum life and 9 things you could choose to use to make it feel less overwhelming. Ready?
1. Make a nest.
Your bed, your couch, or where ever you spend the majority of your time feeding your baby and resting, rethink that space and surround yourself with things you would generally need to leave your nest to retrieve. Some folks use the bassinet the baby doesn't sleep in as a sidecar nest, or they pull up a rolling cart. But the key idea is making as many things available and within arms reach.
What are some of those things?
Diapers, wipes, extra onesies, burp cloths, nursing tanks, clean underwear and pads, breast pads, hair ties, face cleansing towelettes, cell phone charger, swaddle blankets, baby hat, a tablet for movies, snacks you can eat with one hand, water bottle, note pad, earplugs, etc. The stuff.
Healing after birth requires planning for how to allow your brain to rest as much as your body, so help them both and bring your world a little closer.
2. Food Help.
Order it, freeze it, meal train it, or have someone over to cook it, but don't let any offer to help get left dangling when an easy reply is, "Oh my goodness, yes, it would be so helpful if you could take a night and bring over a meal!" Preparing food takes time, and one of the things you will be learning to juggle is how time travels once a baby arrives.
Take the help if it's offered, or ask for help if people think you have it all figured out.
3. Sit in the chair you plan to use for feedings.
Seems silly when it's typed out like that, but not all chairs are created equal, and not all chairs have hours of feedings in their future. If you want to get close to the real experience but your baby isn't here yet, grab a full bag of flour, and go plop down. Sit there for a spell, and see how the small of your back does. Are the arms too high or too low? Is there room to tuck a pillow on your side for long sessions? Can your feet touch the ground? Does it rock or glide smoothly? How comfy is the seat?
Many people make a plan for where they will feed their baby, but this next step can be overlooked.
4. Multiple changing stations.
You may have an adorable nursery, but what many don't share is that most of the time diapers are getting changed all over the house, because, well...that is just what happens! If the changing station is on the 2nd floor, and you're on the first, it will get annoying quickly. You can do yourself a favor and make smaller changing stations around the house. Or at the very least, have changing supplies, if full-on stations are too much.
Top CEOs talk about their clothing uniforms, and it is no secret why they do it - taking the time to decide what to wear everyday uses valuable decision-making time, and neurons, that they would rather have working on more complex problems. We love a solid new parent uniform, and it's for the same reason. You will have so many choices to make every day, that setting yourself up with multiple pairs of your favorite leggings, t-shirts, or pajamas is one way you can show yourself practical kindness.
6. Baby in the Backseat
Once you are given the all clear to drive, taking a drive can be very, very hard. Some may even say it's an ordeal. Your baby may love the car or hate it. But either way, one thing that you can't control is that you are driving, and your baby is behind you, safe, and slightly out of reach. You are going to hear crying. You are not going to be able to go to as many places as you hoped. You are going to cry along with your child at some point.
One of the best things a friend can do in your early parenting days is either:
1) offer to take you on errands and not be weirded out when you hop in the back seat, or
2) be the kind of friend who jumps in the back seat and hangs out with your babe while they figure out what car rides are all about.
So many strangers will let you know if your baby is not "appropriately" dressed for the weather. Believe us! But learning how to dress your baby is one of those skills that parents pick up along the way. And that's ok!
How to dress your child for cold and hot temps is hard, and either way, there is stuff! Regardless of what season your baby is born in, there will be a need to brave the weather. Babies need extra consideration for cold temps, and they need extra protection from hot temps.
A loose guide for cold weather: whatever you are wearing + 1 layer + hat
A loose guide for warm weather: whatever you are wearing + sunscreen + cap + sunglasses + shade screens if possible.
8. "Revolving blocks of activity."
In early parenthood and postpartum, your day will no longer have the structure it once had. There is no more morning, afternoon, and evening. No, with a baby, your day gets broken up in a revolving schedule of sleep, eat, play. Rest, eat, play. Rest, eat, play. And for those really young babies, it is mostly sleeping and eat.
These blocks will shape when you make appointments when you go shopping, and when you meet friends, and you may not even know you are taking them into account. These blocks have the potential to help you and your child learn a routine that gives predictability and comfort.
9. Find your "one thing friend."
A one thing friend is a person who can come over and help in a real way. They are someone who isn't afraid to jump in and put dishes away, or fold laundry while chatting, or hold your baby so you can do the seemingly ordinary parts of life with both hands. They also happen to be the person you feel comfortable to watch your baby so you can do that one thing that is weighing on you. It could be anything from going to the bathroom to running out of the house for a few hours.
Find this friend. This friend is gold.