Like a lot of new mothers, I was (or thought I was) overly prepared for the birth of my daughter. I had my hospital bag packed and on standby in the living room weeks before my due date. I even had a “birthing kit” neatly packed that included two different types of heat packs: one that I could plug into a delivery room outlet and another, rice-based heat pack that I could heat up in a microwave because I had heard some hospitals don’t allow you to plug in anything.
The point is, I am a planner. But I was strangely and maybe just wonderfully naïve about what happens after you bring home the baby. The following are 3 tips on how to survive those first 30 days based on my experience.
When you end up eating grapes and PB&J for dinner on multiple occasions, you know you’re probably not doing something right! Food is one area that I grossly overlooked when I had visions of what life with a newborn involved. We were incredibly fortunate to have friends and family cook and bring us food so that wasn’t the issue.
The issue is that the food didn’t last forever. In our case, it lasted about a week and a half and then all of the groceries that I bought prior started to dwindle!
We tried going to Whole Foods and getting groceries but then that actually involved cooking what we bought. We tried ordering Blue Apron meals, but again that actually involved cooking. So then we tried eating out and ordering in dinner but that quickly became very expensive to do after the third week. Thus grapes and PB&J for dinner.
My husband and I both really enjoy cooking so I guess we never anticipated how much the exhaustion would affect our desire to cook. If I had to do it over again, I would cook as many freezer-friendly dinner meals ahead of time, such as lasagna or these great Crockpot freezer recipes that I just recently found.
If you don’t have enough space in your freezer, ask a friend, family member, or neighbor that you are close to if you can use some of their space. They won’t mind and will be happy to help, because let’s be honest, offering space in their freezer is infinitely easier than actually having to cook for you…
I would then spend my money on breakfast and lunch by either buying groceries that don’t require actual cooking, such as yogurt, fruit, salad, sandwiches, etc. or treating ourselves to a casual meal out.
After the adrenaline of birth and having a new baby started to wane a little, I was sort of taken aback at the repetitive nature of the first 30 days. Since I was breastfeeding every 2 hours and my daughter clearly wasn’t going to sleep through the night (actually she still isn’t but I’ll save that for another day), there wasn’t much energy or time to do anything else.
Whether it was 4pm or 4am, you could usually find me in my robe or yoga pants doing one of three things: nursing, changing, or taking a cat nap with the baby.
The only real exception was that every morning for at least the first 2 weeks, my husband and I walked two blocks to our favorite coffee house, Greenstreet for those of you that live in Philly, and ordered coffee and chocolate croissants.
While simple, these dates allowed me to get some fresh air, to indulge in two things that I gave up during my pregnancy, and frankly, to break up the monotony of a newborn’s daily routine.
I highly encourage new parents to do something that involves leaving the house daily for the first 30 days. Even if it’s just a walk around the block after dinner or listening to Pandora while you sit on a park bench. The type of activity doesn’t really matter and it’s doesn’t even have to be exercise-oriented. It just has to allow you to breathe for a moment and internally process this new life.
Tip #3: Let others help you.
No really. Politeness doesn’t win points here and trying to be a perfect mom this early is the quickest way to drive you to insanity. Consider the first 30 days after birth as a grace period and save the dream of perfection for later!
What this means is that when friends and family come over and ask “how can I help?”, DO NOT TURN THEM DOWN. They want to help and you need all the help you can get. Not sure how to respond? Not a problem. Here are list of suggestions:
“Can you watch the baby while he/she is sleeping so I can take a glorious 20-minute shower?”
“Can you hold the baby so that I can enjoy (and even finish!) my cup of coffee while it’s still hot?”
“Can you take the dishes out of the dishwasher and putting the dirty dishes in?”
“Can you fold the clean clothes that are in dryer?”
“Can you vacuum the living room for me and lightly sweep the kitchen floor?”
“Can you put the baby bottles in soapy-hot water for me so it’s easier to rinse them later?”
“Can you pick up a small list of stuff for me from the nearby grocery store”?
The list goes on and on. The point is that people want to help but you have to let them. Let the fear of judgment go and accept the village of people that are ready and willing to help you!