25 Ways to Handle the Stress of a New Baby
Bring some calm to the chaos with first-year survivor strategies that work.
Making the Transition continued...
4. Stay Flexible
The first year of a new baby's life requires a huge level of adaptation on the part of parents, Kirst says. "Let your baby teach you about structure, flexibility, and creative problem-solving," she says. "Babies are life-altering in the challenges they present. Learning to respond and adapt to the issues babies bring to your life can be life-enhancing. You learn to think on your feet."
5. Keep a Log
Gold suggests writing down baby's feeding, sleeping, and crying habits. It will help you identify patterns and give you a record you can use for instructing caregivers.
6. Rethink Priorities
Jennifer Shu, pediatrician and co-author of Heading Home With Your Newborn, says to "only put on your (regular) to-do list tasks that absolutely have to get done." How do you know what kind of task to put on that list? Shu says, "If it doesn't get done, your family's health, safety, and well-being would be at risk. Outsource things that you dread doing -- yard work, grocery shopping, laundry -- or that can be done just as well by someone else."
Singer seconds that notion, saying, "They'll appreciate helping and you'll appreciate the break."
7. Farm Out Meals
Sign up for a meal delivery service for the first year or even the first month if financially feasible. Prepared meals are nutritionally balanced, healthy, and tasty, and they provide variety. They also eliminate the need for grocery shopping, menu planning, and cooking. Likewise, stock up on takeout menus.
8. Try a Little TLC
"Get hugs from your partner when you can," Karen Deerester, owner of Family Time Coaching & Consulting, says. "Fall into grown-up arms when you're exhausted and overwhelmed. You're entitled to a whole year to rebalance your family around the baby."
9. Leverage the Internet
Online forums provide a sanity check for new parents, but beware of information overload. Parents need to keep in mind that not everything they read is reliable or a good fit for their family.
10. Stay Connected to Your Partner
Shoshana Bennett is a clinical psychologist and author of Postpartum Depression for Dummies. She says dates every other week "like clockwork" can keep a relationship ticking. Mom can slip out of sweats and into silk to aid in the transition. "One ground rule," she says, is "you are only allowed to talk about the baby for the first 10 minutes."
11. Beware the Risks of Comparing
Resist the urge to "compare and despair" when it comes to your baby and anyone else's.
12. Find the Humor
Making sure to laugh is mom Karen Deerester's strategy. "Laugh a lot," she says. "Imagine you are in a sitcom."
Managing Sleep Deprivation
It's not that you want to stay awake. It's just that in a large part of that first year, sleep is a rare commodity.