10 Survival Tips for Parents of Newborns

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Bringing home a new baby is a joyful and exciting time. Inhaling that sweet baby smell, counting those itty-bitty toes, and rocking your precious bundle of joy is an indescribably amazing experience. However, it is also a time of adjustment and acclimation, especially if you have other children to take care of. 

We recently added a new baby girl to our family of four, so I can speak from experience that for the first few weeks I was in survival mode. Now, nearly two months after her arrival, we are beginning to find a different kind of normal. These 10 survival tips have helped me, and I hope they will help you, too!

1. Make your to-do list. Then cross everything off but 3 things.
When you have a new baby who eats around the clock and keeps you up at night plus other children to clothe and feed, you have to recognize that you can’t do it all. Not right now at least. Something has to give. There will be a time when you actually can have clean floors and a sparkling bathroom and kitchen, but that time has not yet arrived.

I try to have one cleaning chore per week day: Laundry on Mondays {of course I do laundry throughout the week too, but Monday is the primary laundry day}, Floors on Tuesday, Bathrooms on Wednesday, Bedrooms on Thursday, and Kitchen on Friday.

2. If you have multiple children, try to establish simultaneous nap or quiet times for all children. 
You’re exhausted. Give yourself a break and have everyone in their rooms at the same time either sleeping, reading, or playing quietly so you can rest. If you are pregnant, start preparing now by instituting a daily rest time so that when baby arrives, the other children will know that from say, 1-3, we rest. This one tip has been a lifesaver for me these past seven weeks.

3. Devise a meal plan with simple dishes.
There’s nothing more stressful for a new mom than to wonder what’s for supper every night. Instead, take some time over the weekend to prepare a menu for the week so that when dinner time rolls around, you aren’t searching for ideas. Check out these detailed posts on the whys and hows of meal planning. Also, utilize your crock pot whenever possible. It’s such a time saver!

4. Prepare supper throughout the day.
Most babies have a fussy period that starts just when Mama begins fixing dinner. It’s aggravating {and dangerous} to try to fry bacon and hold a squalling baby. Instead, cook the meat, cut up the veggies, and prepare your sides during down times in the day so that when the witching hour begins, you can rock your fussy baby while dinner heats up in the oven.

5. Plan activities for the kids when you need to feed or rock the baby.
My kids need structure, so before it’s feeding time or nap time for baby Annabeth, I prepare little projects for them to work on. Sometimes I will give each child a stack of books to “read” in their room: one in her crib, the other on her bed. Other times I will set out crayons, stickers, and drawing paper at the kitchen table for them to get artsy with or put in a short video to watch. Or I might give them some safe chores to do like cleaning their room, sweeping the floor, dusting, and putting away plastic dishes and silverware. Think of activities and chores your children can do safely without you. Trust me: When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

6. Play with your kids while the baby sleeps.
It doesn’t matter what you do, but do something together. The key is to spend good quality time with your older children while the baby is asleep. They may start to resent the baby if you are always preoccupied with feeding her, changing her, holding her, and putting her to bed, so be sure to play together. {FYI, I’ll be starting our “31 Days of Play!” challenge next week, so check back for some fun ideas to use with your own kids.}

7. Get out!
It’s easy to coop yourself up in the house with a newborn because they’re always sleeping. But take advantage of that fact and get out of the house. The girls and I take a weekly trip to the library, farmer’s market, and grocery store, and some weeks we visit the park. I try to stay home 1-2 days a week, but we all look forward to our days out. Everyone needs a change of scenery, especially Mama.

8. Never pass on an offer of food or help if you need it.
In the first month after Annabeth’s birth, we were showered with delicious meals, which really helped me to focus on my family and not worry about buying groceries and preparing supper. I have had several people offer to take the older children so I can rest. I admit I haven’t taken them up on their offers just yet because my sweet Mom still comes once a week to watch all three girls so I can run errands or simply sit alone in peace and quiet. But the point is: don’t be too proud to accept help. Taking care of a newborn plus other children, a husband, a house, the bills, laundry, pets, etc. is tough. Let people help you, and when this season passes for you, return the favor.

9. Go to bed early. 
Our children are usually in bed asleep before 8:00, so after cleaning the kitchen, I usually write or surf the internet until 8:30 and read until 9:00 when my husband and I go to bed. Of course I am up feeding the baby once in the night and again around 5:30 in the morning, so my days start pretty early. I try to make up for lost sleep by going to bed at a decent hour instead of staying up late to catch up on work that I didn’t get to during the day. Housework and filth will be there tomorrow. The opportunity to sleep, however, will not.

10. Enjoy this season; it’s very brief.
Time has seemed to fly by since our Annabeth’s arrival. She is almost two months old, which is hard to believe. There have been many days early on when she wasn’t sleeping well that I had a bad attitude. I was easily annoyed by my kids and upset about the state of our house. But the truth is, things are already improving. Sure, there are tough days when I want to lock myself in the bathroom, but  trying to dwell on the positive. In a flash, our girls will be grown up and gone. Enjoy this time while you can!

What are your tips for Mamas of newborns with or without older children?

Keri
For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. Instead of crossing everything but 3 off of the to-do list, I make a list of the top 5 things that need to be done, if I manage more then yea, if not I don’t sweat it.

    I used to do my dinners throughout the day, but for the past 4 months I’ve switched to freezer cooking. Being a mom with little kids/babies I LOVE it!! Dinner is so much smoother and I only cook 1 day a month.

    Great ideas

    lessonsfromivy.com

  2. I actually do the same thing with the top five although I tend to start out with a longer “to do” list and whittle it down to those 3-5 requiring top priority. But, you’re right; don’t sweat it if you don’t get all 5 (or 3 even) done.

    Freezer cooking…I’ve been really thinking about doing that but overwhelmed at the prospect. Thanks for suggesting it. Cooking once a month versus every night would be so nice!

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Keri

  3. great list!

  4. I think number 8 was the hardest for me! I got caught in the “super mom” mentality and felt like I had to be able to do it all MYSELF. Thank you for including that one on the list!!

    I’d love to have you visit back! 🙂
    http://kasfitness.blogspot.com/

    • I agree, Kasondra. It is very hard to accept help. My husband constantly reminds me that people who offer to help really mean it and to take them up on it. Moms need a break every now and then, so if you have people you trust and are willing to help out, accept their help. It’s hard to do, though, I know.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Beautiful….great tip about preparign supper early….remains same with me having a toddler!
    Inviting you to link up with my new Faithfully parenting Fridays!
    http://www.lovingourjourney.com/faithfully-parenting/
    Blessings,
    michy

  6. I’m praying to be blessed with a second pregnancy any day now, and can’t imagine yet what live is like with more than one child. Thanks for sharing these tips today. Found you from the Time Warp Wife linky.

  7. I am hoping when I have a second child to remember number 10. I hated the newborn stage with my son because I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I just was ready for him to be past that fourth trimester and a smiling, cuddly baby. Well now looking back I regret that I didn’t cherish every single minutes of those fast passing newborn days. I try to appreciate every moment now since my baby is going to be grown before I know it.

    http://www.adventureswithcaptaindestruto.com

  8. Good advice! I found that cooking dinner ahead of time was a life saver for me. That way in the evenings there are no deadlines I have to make, because dinner is already done!

  9. These are great! I will have to remember them when we add more babes to our family! We just have one right now. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I’m going to go check out your 31 Days of Play!

    MB @newlifesteward