I’ve been back into life with a newborn for a few weeks now and I’ve realised that there are some essential parts of the season with a baby that I completely forgot about before my son arrived. Remembering these principles has helped me to enjoy life with my son quicker than the first time around. This time, I’m more relaxed and soaking up all of the special moments of this unique stage of parenting and my son’s development.
#1: Sleep when the baby sleeps
As soon as the baby sleeps, don’t check your phone, do not reply to that 10 day old Whatsapp message, there is no guarantee that the baby will sleep for 1 hour like it did the nap before, sometimes it truly feels there is no guarantee that the baby will decide to sleep ever again. There is no time for dilly dallying-sleep. I repeat there is no time for messing around, whatsoever. Go. To Sleep.
After about 2 days of life as a zombie with my son I had no choice but to remember this principle. On particular strenuous nights, my daughter chooses to rest or quietly read a book in bed as I try to feel human again.These sessions often turn into beloved Mummy-Kinder (German for children) Cuddle Sessions. Sometimes I’m not able to sleep but knowing that I put time aside to try to, helps me to feel more able to take on my toddler-newborn day.
#2: Put time aside just for connecting and cuddles
I am committed to zero screen time for my children and myself whilst with them but this rule is a bit more flexible with a newborn. My son is not interested in watching TV which gives me the perfect opportunity to sneakily use breastfeeding time as packing in screen based entertainment time when my toddler is not around.
But once whilst using this zero screen time loophole whilst watching a series, I noticed my newly born son looking at me which I only noticed when I happened to flick my eyes down at him.It seemed like he wanted to connect and I almost missed the opportunity to do so as I was too busy watching Netflix. I then remembered about how much breastfeeding helps bonding and realised that whilst gauging on entertainment when breastfeeding I was missing out on precious opportunities to connect with my baby.
A neonatal unit in a Somerset hospital thinks that quality time with your child is so important that it recently put up a notice requesting mums to try to not be on their phones whilst breastfeeding to enable them to connect with their poorly babies.
This epiphany hasn’t made me implement a hard and fast ‘no media whilst breastfeeding’ rule though.When feeding for the millionth time in the middle of the night, eye contact and quality time is not as much on my radar as sheer survival is.
Watching something helps to keep me awake which is vital for my son’s safety.
However, remembering about the special connection that can be fostered whilst breastfeeding has helped me to ensure that connecting as I feed my son is a priority.
#3: Forget your plans and goals, like really there is zero point
So I had this plan of getting up at 7 o’clock in the morning to drive around my neighbourhood to get used to our new car. After yet another night of cluster feeding, by the time I was with it enough to remember what the concept of time was, it was well past early morning and I was in no state to have an unnecessary leisurely drive, my priority became survival.
On a day to day basis, having a newborn has forced me to slow my pace down and accept that sometimes what you want to do just doesn’t happen . Just as I think about loading the dishwasher, my son needs his nappy changed. I plan to have a shower whilst the baby sleeps then he wakes up and then feeds for what seems like an hour. We’re all ready to finally leave the house and then my son is sick everywhere, meaning we all need to get changed. This is typical life with a newborn.
Having my son has forced me to hold loosely onto plans, be open to alternatives and happily go with the flow . It is easy to write this now but honestly making the switch back into a loose, open mum of a newborn was hard at first. Life with my daughter was easy, sometimes plans required a bit of nap time Oware but almost all of the things we wanted to do were possible and within reach.
I’m more mindful and easy going as a result of having a newborn again. Remembering and embracing these principles of life with a newborn has enabled me to truly enjoy and soak up this beautiful, fleeting stage in my son’s life.
What are the things you have learnt that are essential for life with a newborn?
○ CulturalMagpie 2020