So, you’ve just had your baby! Congrats, you’ve made it through the hardest part (besides the teenage years, that is). Now you’re ready for a care-free period of loving bonding with your new baby, right? Unfortunately for many new moms, the unexpected stress of being a new mother can get in the way of enjoying this precious time. Here are a few ways you can bring down the stress level and deal with the day-to-day trials of new motherhood, in order to make the most out of your baby’s infancy. After all, it will be gone faster than you can imagine.
1. Let Go of Rigid Schedules
One thing new moms may not realize until after their baby is born is just how much time it takes to get anything done with a newborn. To lower your stress, don’t make hard-set schedules; taking it moment by moment will help your mental state.
2. Get Organized
Your house is never going to be as neat as it was before you had children. After that has sunk in, remember however that the more organized you are, the easier your day will go. Preparing to go to the store won’t be a 30 minute ordeal, if you always have a diaper bag packed.
3. Recognize that Your “Bad” Feelings are Normal
There will be times when you wake up in the middle of the night to crying and have passing thoughts about wishing the baby didn’t exist and that you had your old freedom back. This is totally normal, and all parents (especially new ones) have them from time to time. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, just human.
4. Make Time for Sleep
Many new parents will both wake up in the middle of the night to care for a wailing baby. While it feels nice to support each other, you must resist! Taking turns getting up at night is the way to go—it will let you both get at least a little sleep every other night.
5. Get Help
It’s okay to take time for you—in fact, it’s essential to feeling fulfilled as a parent. Consider getting a nighttime babysitter one or two nights a week, so you and your spouse can have time alone.
6. Clean Their Hands, Then Let it Go
Many new parents want to wage germ warfare on every toy in the house and on every individual that comes within a 10 foot radius of their kid. In reality, you can’t keep even close to all germs away. Stick to washing you and your child’s hands frequently, and carry around a little bottle of hand sanitizer for others who might want to hold them.
7. Keep Your Mind Busy
Once the baby “honeymoon” wears off, many new moms find themselves bored by taking care of their baby all day. Not that they don’t cherish the time, it’s just that many people need additional intellectual stimulation to feel whole and content. Whether it’s working a sudoku, taking an online class, or going back to work, determine what sort of brain exercise you need to stay sane.
8. Eat Well and Stay Healthy
Taking care of a baby is difficult enough without the added stress of feeling down because of lack of exercise and bad eating. If you have to, plan meals ahead to avoid making food decisions you’ll regret later.
9. Share With Your Spouse
In scientific studies, the happiest new parents were the ones that talked completely honestly with each other about what they were feeling. This sharing helped each partner understand that they weren’t alone in the stress and pressure they were experiencing about parenthood.
10. Know Your Limits
These days, it’s easy to feel like a crap parent. You can’t open up a copy of Us! Weekly without seeing some celebrity breast-feeding her cloth-diapered baby. Realize what your own limits are, and if you can’t follow the “experts” advice to the T, don’t fret—a loving, calm mother is most likely better for your baby than an incredibly stressed out one who follows all the latest trends.