Newborns can turn your world upside down in an instant, depriving you of much needed sleep and draining your will to tend to your own wellbeing. This attention-demanding newborn period carries over into the toddler years and can be debilitating if you don’t prioritize your own wellbeing while taking care of your little one.
From zero to a dozen diaper changes a day, dealing with throw up, bathing, breastfeeding or preparing bottles, monitoring your baby’s temperature, and arranging doctor’s visits while frantically trying to stop the crying, are just a few of the many things that drain you of energy and will. It can feel like your back is against the wall.
Being a mother isn’t always as easy or relaxing as most people think. It can be emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing, especially if mothers fall into a rut that resembles a pinball game, bouncing from one task to the next without any real planning that is necessary to create routine and order out of the chaos. It is expected of mothers to be smiling and happy for the sake of their little ones, but moms are not infallible. They, like all of us, have a breaking point, too.
This very important topic deals with the wellbeing of mothers from day one of motherhood to the point that their little one graduates from a toddler into a young child with good life skills. It can be an arduous journey that oddly enough will be filled with fond memories, but this depends on how each mother approaches motherhood.
A big mistake that many first-time moms make is not preparing for the birth of their bundle of joy. Besides purchasing all the necessary items, not much thought goes into time planning after the big day. All the focus is on the baby, but little to none on the mom.
As mentioned, mothers are not infallible, and not getting enough quality sleep can drain the will out of any person. Here are a few preparation points to consider:
- Your planning must begin while you are still pregnant because when your baby arrives, you’ll most likely have a few days before the cracks start showing.
- Join mom groups while pregnant and build a network of like-minded people (mothers) so you can ask questions and share experiences. Advice from other moms can be handy, but if you’re not sure about something, simply get clarity from your doctor on your next visit.
- Plan night care for your little one. Make arrangements with your partner, family member, or night nurse to take the load off you by doing baby care night shifts two or three times a week.
- Set visiting rules for friends, extended family members, and your in-laws. Unexpected visits can really throw your routine out of sync, but be cautious not to offend anyone as you might need their help further down the line.
- After your baby has arrived, don’t neglect to stay in shape. Take it easy in the beginning, but getting regular exercise is always important. If you have space for a treadmill or exercise bike, great, but if not, then walking a few blocks wearing your baby or using an adjustable stroller will work wonders. You can also do squats and pelvic exercises while taking care of your baby.
- Soothe your baby and get a lot of skin-to-skin time in. This bonding experience builds a better emotional connection, which in turn promotes both physical and mental development.
- Put time aside for your partner. Have dinner dates now and then, watch a movie together, enjoy a picnic or an evening walk. Keep your love burning in your relationship. Your little one will reap the rewards of being in a stable loving environment.
- Managing priorities around your home also helps to lessen your responsibilities. Don’t try to be a supermom and do everything. Rather delegate cleaning chores and try ready-made cooked meals. All these small things free up a lot of time that can be better spent on yourself and your baby.
- Balance your time between mom-baby time and mom-adult time. This is where your partner and your friends in your mom network come into play. Adult conversation is necessary for your wellbeing.
Sleep deprivation quickly becomes a reality for most unprepared moms. Sleeping when your little one sleeps helps, but it doesn’t give your body enough time to properly recharge (and let’s face it: it isn’t always easy to sleep while your baby naps). The first noticeable effect of a poor sleep routine is a change in your emotions.
Being grumpy from lack of sleep and snapping at people for the smallest things will eventually lead to you taking it out on your little one. To prevent this, you have to plan and manage your sleep routine.
Establishing a daily routine for your baby helps to lay the foundation for good habits. The earlier you start, the better for you, your baby, and the rest of the family. Work on getting your little one to sleep through the night. Reaching this milestone will make you a happier mom.
At this point, you have most likely enrolled your little one in daycare and you’re back at work, but this doesn’t mean that everything is back to normal. Now you’re dealing with teething, tantrums, potty training, and fighting to establish or maintain some order in your home.
Breastfeeding during this period can cause a lot of upsets. You will have to express milk at work and deal with unexpected leaks that can be embarrassing. Storing expressed milk and keeping everything hygienically clean while checking and double-checking that all your little one’s needs are met for daycare becomes a daily ritual.
Routine and setting behavioral boundaries will save you from disaster. You have already managed to put a daily routine in place with your newborn, and although the days have changed with regard to daycare, your home routine should still be maintained.
Boundaries must be set on limiting the time your toddler spends in front of a screen. Playing active games builds a healthy body and mind.
One thing to avoid from the very beginning is comparing your little one to other kids. Appreciate the fact that children develop and hone language and motor skills at different tempos.
Work to ensure your child grows up in a loving, caring, and respectful home. Praise and interaction should be in abundance, but you can also show your child how to deal with difficult emotions, too by modeling.
Don’t forget to have fun with your little one, too!
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt
Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.