We recently added baby #3 to our family and it is truly a wonderful, exhausting time. With my first babe, I tried to stick with advice recommended by so-called “experts”. I worried about every little detail.
Now that our third baby has arrived, it’s basically a free-for-all as we juggle activities and schedules for a 9- and 6-year-old and sleepless nights with a newborn baby. There are no rules at this point, and as long as the kids and baby are healthy, safe, and fed, I am calling it a win.
Some of the things that I thought were bad habits before are now actually lifesavers!
I Don’t Have Big Goals
During my maternity leave, I originally imagined that I would focus on tasks like closet purging or painting my kids’ bathroom while my baby slept. But as soon as I started snuggling my sweet little daughter, I didn’t want to do anything else! I have a baby wearing wrap, bouncer and swing but most days my only goal is to cuddle her as much as I can. It’s ok if you don’t have big goals during the newborn stage. It’s ok if your only goal is to get through all the seasons of Schitt’s Creek during middle of the night breastfeeding sessions. If you care for your baby and your own postpartum emotional and physical health, that is enough!
I Don’t Stress About Feeding
While I chose to breastfeed each of my babies, I told myself I was not going to stress about feeding with my third and final babe. A few nights I was so tired I went to bed at dinner time and let my husband give her a bottle of formula, so I could sneak in a couple hours of extra sleep. When my daughter started sleeping for longer stretches, I usually set an alarm to pump in the night to keep up my supply. Until the night I slept through the alarm and didn’t wake up until well past pumping time. Did I feel bad about it? For a minute! But my body needed the extra rest and I could fit in some extra pumping sessions the next day. If your baby is growing properly and there aren’t any health concerns, don’t stress about how you are feeding your baby if it’s at the expense of your health.
I Cut Corners Whenever I Can
While I am home during the day for my maternity leave, do I cook homemade meals for my older kids every day? Nope! If you are able to do that, great! But I knew that wouldn’t work for me. As soon as I started cooking, the baby was crying to be held, my middle child needed help finding his iPad and my older child wanted me to air up his basketball. I stocked up on frozen lasagna and enchiladas and we are all happier. I order my groceries to be delivered to my door. Sometimes when my laundry piles up, I use a laundry service. Every family and budget is different, but find ways to make life easier when you can. Some grocery delivery and pickup services have waived their fees during COVID. Your family’s dinners may consist of cereal, yogurt, string cheese and carrot sticks (been there!). Maybe a friend, relative or teenager can help out with laundry or load your dishwasher. Don’t think of it as cutting corners…think of these things as sanity savers for new moms!
If you’re a newborn mom struggling to find your way through a sea of advice, trust your instincts. You don’t have to do everything the same way as your friend, cousin or sister to be a good mom. Your baby will still be loved even if you have a messy house and serve frozen meals. While there are certain health and safety guidelines that should be consistently followed (such as safe sleeping habits and properly installed car seats), remember that every baby is unique and you shouldn’t feel bad about doing what works for you and your family!