6 Ways to Cope with Newborn Exhaustion
The first few weeks after you bring your newborn home are going to some of the biggest challenges you've ever faced. Here are 6 ways you can cope with newborn exhaustion and still enjoy your new baby.
The newborn days are some of the most special, amazing, enchanting, and exhausting days a new parent will ever experience.
Though this is definitely an incredible time for new parents, most admit it’s also a blur due to the fatigue and lack of sleep that come with the entire newborn package. Here are 6 ways you can cope with newborn exhaustion and still enjoy your new baby:
Start each day with a sense of accomplishment Not getting the proper amount of sleep is tough enough, but when you schlep through your days too exhausted to shower or get out of your bathrobe, that can drag you down too. Try and put yourself first in the morning, even if it’s just to take a quick shower and apply a little make up—taking these small but important steps can give you a much needed boost of energy to jumpstart your day.
Limit visitors. While you will definitely be feeling like a proud parent and want to show off your new precious bundle to the entire world, it’s important to manage your visitors so that you don’t over extend yourself and burn through any bit of energy reserve that you might have for the sheer sake of entertaining. Your close friends and family will understand if you ask them to give you a couple of weeks to get into a semi-routine with your new baby.
Accept help. Asking for or accepting help from others is not easy for many parents, especially if they are used to living structured and independent lives. The newborn exhaustion stage will not last forever, but for the first few weeks it can definitely be challenging. Don’t be too proud to accept or ask for help. This is the time to allow your mother-in-law to come fold a few loads of laundry and hold the baby so you can grab a few hours of sleep, or to let your neighbors arrange for a couple weeks of meals to be delivered to your home each night. Take each day as it comes but definitely take advantage of those helping hands that come your way during that first month. For more on this, check out the Savvy Psychologist's episode How to Ask for Help.
Work as a team. Those first few newborn weeks are not only draining for all parents, regardless of whether you gave birth, held your partner's hand, or adopted. Enter parenthood with a team perspective and you’ll always have a shoulder to lean on. If you’re breastfeeding, your partner can still get up in the middle of the night to support you by changing baby's diaper, swaddling, and helping with other chores. Make a conscious effort to work together gratefully and don’t criticize each other's ways of doing duties. Build each other up and use these tiring weeks to connect and bond as a new family.
Cat nap often. There probably won’t be a string of full-nights of sleep for quite some time, but there will be opportunities to grab an hour here and there, sometimes even just 15 – 20 minutes. Take advantage of the quiet time when you are sitting and nursing or feeding your baby a bottle. If you are a first-time parent without any other children to care for, definitely grab some sleep when your baby is sleeping. Within a couple of weeks of coming home with your new baby, you’ll start to see some patterns develop with baby's eating and sleeping and if you’re able, plug into the baby's schedule and catch any Z’s you can no matter what time of day it is.
Lower your standards. You may have always kept a neat and orderly home or taken pride in serving your husband delicious, homecooked meals even after your 10-hour day at the office. But nothing can compare to the amount of work your new baby is going to require, regardless of how organized and well-kept you’ve always been. You are now on your baby’s time schedule, not your own, so no matter how badly you want to vacuum the stairs and make your famous chocolate cream pie for dessert, now is simply not the time to keep those high standards as part of your regular routine. There will be plenty of time for getting your house up to snuff, but for now try and relax and just enjoy (or survive) these newborn days—because they too shall pass and more quickly than you’d think.