The newborn bubble
October 19, 2017
I can’t remember who (sorry if it was you – please let me know and I will fully credit you!) but somebody once described the first few weeks of having a new baby as a ‘newborn bubble’. It was after we’d had Polly and whilst I didn’t realise it at the time we absolutely were in a bubble. The first few weeks with our little lady weren’t that easy because both she and I found breastfeeding pretty tough so some of our initial days together were spent back in hospital, but very definitely still in a bubble. With Lilly it was a bubble of a different kind – we were much more relaxed, feeding was easier and we could go at our own pace for three whole weeks while Graham was on paternity. With both girls the bubble featured hours passing by without us realising and just taking in the sight of our new addition.
So what about when this bubble goes pop? If you’ve had a partner around and they go back to work, you find yourself solo with a small human who cries for feeding, a nappy change, wind, more feeding, attention, too much attention, more feeding. And can you really decipher the cries? You’re a better parent than I am if you can. I found the newborn stage tough at times so I thought I’d share some tips that might help you out a little if you’re at that stage!
1. Prep your food
I thought I struggled to eat well the first time around, but that was nothing compared to my second maternity leave!! Your basic human needs mean that you need to be fed and watered to be at your best but all too often I would find myself a few hours into the day without having had a drink and if I’m not fed regularly it’s not pretty – I’m fairly sure I was the inspiration for the word ‘hangry’. I make sure I have eggs in all the time and will often throw a prepped prawn salad into my trolley at the supermarket if I want a lunchtime treat. If I’m really on top of my game I’d prep the night before, which is often facilitated by leftovers from tea! Ah, which reminds me – get a slow cooker, it’ll change your life. I could actually do an entire post just on slow cookers…..Seriously though, in the words of the Snickers advert ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’ and I’ll add thirsty on their too, particularly if you’re breastfeeding.
2. Get dressed
It’s often the last thing I want to do after a bad night but always get dressed no matter how long it takes. For some people it’s a psychological thing that you can tackle anything in a pair of jeans / chinos / joggers / shorts and whilst I am one of those people, I actually find that getting dressed means that if I’ve been in the house for a while and at the stage where I JUST NEED TO GET OUT it speeds things up and I don’t start flapping with a crying baby on my hip and toddler who needs another snack / wee / a crayon.
3. Fresh air
Ah the great outdoors and the wonders of blowing the cobwebs away. Again not always naturally top of my sleep deprived list but even 10 minutes walking round the garden can clear your heads and wake you up (if only momentarily). At times the loneliness of being with a baby can feel isolating so a reminder that there is a world out there can be a helpful pick me up.
4. Nap if you can, indulge if you can’t
My attitude towards napping fluctuates. Some days I can’t see getting through to the evening without a cheeky 40 winks while the bambino is sleeping and the toddler is at nursery but at the other extreme it’s sometimes the last thing I want to do when I get some ‘me’ time. I don’t want to be defined by napping….I want to read, catch up on my trash TV, sort my life admin…even do the ironing! On the days when I don’t / won’t / can’t sleep but it’s the day after a heavy night of raving with the smallest barnacle I go low key and indulge – grabbing a book and heading back to bed, lying on the sofa, scrolling social media. In hindsight I should have taken the opportunity to sleep during the day more often but never mind….sleep is for wimps as they say!
5. Jobs can wait
It’s taken me two kids and three years of trying to do too much to realise – some things can wait. I don’t always listen to my own advice on this one but when I do, life feels a bit clearer. It can become counterproductive trying to fit loads in if it leaves you feeling rushed and exhausted. Really ask yourself if you have to do that particular thing right at that very moment or will it keep until you’ve had a bit more sleep, a bit longer with the kids or until you have an extra pair of hands.
6. Find a low energy hobby
It’s easy to feel like you’re a milk machine/bottle making sleep deprived zombie, and that’s before you’ve started with the baby groups where you’re ‘(insert name)’s Mummy’. Erm, I do have a name….don’t I?? Those days where I’ve felt I’ve lost my identity a bit I find it helpful to do something I’m interested in – finding time to exercise, reading (a favourite), blogging, colouring (yes I’m one of those ‘adult’ colouring fans). I’ve never been one for hobbies but finding a way to constructively spend an hour or two that’s low energy and easily accessible with minimal effort gives you some of you back.
7. Plan something
Something for you, you and your partner, you and a friend – it can be as exciting as hitting up a spa or just going out for a bite to eat but plan something in that’s going to give you a bit of time away without having to take a changing bag out. We waited too long to have a night out just the two of us this time around because we’ve struggled to get her to take a bottle but when we did it felt great (I’m sure I’ll be getting some decent judgement for that but I’ll get over it!). I do pepper the evenings with random outings too – I dragged a friend out to The Range a couple of weeks ago one evening when I’d had a run of very long days and just needed to indulge my inner interior designer.
Life with a new-born can be tough….IS tough. There’s so much that people and all those trusty books don’t tell you that it can be a shock and you suddenly start thinking – why aren’t I finding this as easy and natural as everyone else? I’m sure there are plenty of people that take to it amazingly and never have what they would call a bad day, but I’ve not met them yet!