One of the first decisions you may have to make to adjust your own life to your baby's schedule is to modify your expectations of yourself, especially if you are something of a perfectionist. The Super-mom who runs a home with consummate efficiency, serves gourmet meals every day, gives skilled care to a brand-new infant, and is always perfectly groomed is a myth. Trying to make that myth a reality has caused many a mother serious trouble.
If you are new parents who do not have a full-time housekeeper, an immaculate house must take second place to a lovingly cared-for baby and to parents rested enough to handle their daily responsibilities. A quick pickup every day keeps your home tidy enough to be comfortable. Postpone heavier household jobs, skim over them until there's more time, or delegate them to someone else. If this is not possible, try to arrange for some extra help, either by hiring someone to come in for a few hours a day or a week, or accepting offers of friends and family members to clean and do laundry.
Cut down your expectations of the way family meals are prepared and served, too, but do not skimp on nutrition. You need a well-balanced diet of wholesome foods to supply the energy your new responsibility requires, but you can do without fanciness and formality. Enjoy the casseroles and baked goods thoughtful people supply and don't feel guilty about occasionally bringing in a fast-food meal. When you must cook, choose simple basic foods you can prepare quickly and easily.
Time-savers for New Parents
Many of the ways you can save time center around good organization. Of course, definite scheduling of your time is impossible now; you can't be sure exactly when or how often your baby is going to need you. Every plan you make that involves other people or a specific time must be expendable or have an alternative. This way, you, can shift gears at a moment's notice when your baby requires an extra feeding or when some other normal but unanticipated incident takes place. At the very least, consistently allow yourself more time than you think you'll need for everything. Experienced parents have found many ways to save themselves time and confusion as they go about the business of life with a new baby.
Your Social Life
Recognize that you do not have to uphold your former standards of hospitality for friends and relatives who drop in to see your new baby, unexpectedly or by appointment. It's not necessary for you to provide refreshments or even to offer a cup of coffee. Let visitors see the baby (asleep or awake), chat with them for a few moments, and let them go on their way. Discourage their handling and passing the baby around. Refuse to let anyone who has a cold or other illness into the same room as the baby. The parents among your visitors will understand all this perfectly, and if others do not, don't worry. Your baby's health and well-being, and your own, are of primary importance right now.
You may find, during the first months of your baby's life, that every aspect of your social life changes. If you've always loved to entertain at home, you may find it more enjoyable to save time and energy by meeting friends at a restaurant for dinner -- and it is good for you to get out of the house occasionally. If you are accustomed to going out a great deal, rarely spending a weekend evening at home, you may now prefer to spend quiet evenings by the fire.
This certainly does not mean you must -- or should -- give up seeing friends and going out altogether or never do the things you enjoy. It only means your priorities will probably change when you have an infant in your household, and you're not required to continue any old habits you've outgrown or you wish to put aside for a time.
Time for Yourself
As you reorganize your life to adjust to having a baby, do not forget your own requirement for some time for yourself, however difficult it may be to schedule. You need private time to be a person in your own right and not only a parent, a homemaker, a spouse, and perhaps an employee. You need the time to build and maintain the self-esteem that makes you effective in all those roles. You need time to exercise, to groom yourself, to read or work on a hobby...or to look at the sky or water and let your mind wander. Finding this time will probably never be easy for you again, but it will continue to be very important that you do find it. Always look on time you take for yourself not as a luxury or a reward, but as an obligation to yourself. You won't always be able to have the hour or more that would do you the most good and be the most enjoyable, but you'll find even a few minutes snatched from a busy day will refresh you.
If you are an early riser, at your best in the morning, you may enjoy a few minutes of peace and privacy over a cup of coffee before the rest of the family is awake. Your baby's daytime naps may give you some precious time. Even later, when you may not feel the need to sleep every time your baby does, nap time should be for you, not for housework. Evening is a wonderful time for a leisurely bath, even for a good read in a warm tub.
And evening is probably also the best time for a quiet hour or two for partners. As important as it is for each to have some solitary time, it is equally necessary for a couple to spend at least some time together, alone.
There are many ways you can reorganize your schedule to allow time for yourself, your partner and your social life, even if the time allotted is much less than it was pre-baby. By making a conscious effort to schedule these periods, you're giving yourself much-needed respite. Caring for yourself is just as important as caring for your baby -- like they say, if mommy's happy, baby's happy.
For fathers, adjusting to the newborn brings special challenges that the mother may not even be aware of. On the following page, we'll discuss the new roles fathers take on and provide some great tips from expert dads.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.