Whether you’re a stay-at-home (or should that be work-at-home mom?!) or you’re juggling parenting with a job outside your home, being a parent can be exhausting. There’s no way around that fact – and accepting that you’re no longer the boss of you can help you come to terms with handing the reins over to that tiny, albeit cute, tyrant called your baby.
But you can compromise. By taking a few shortcuts in some areas of your life, you can have the best of both worlds: your life as you and your life as a mom. So sift through these tips and pick out the ones that will help make your life easier…
1 Accept you can’t be Supermom
Every new parent has a rosy view of what life with their baby will be like, but the reality is often very different. Cast aside that cozy family image – it’ll just make you feel inadequate.
2 Admit you’re stressed and tackle depression
Are you overtired, irritable or getting one headache after another? Watch out for the signs and accept that some stress is inevitable. Looking for solutions that aren’t actually there will make stress much harder to cope with. If you feel hopeless and a failure, you could be suffering from postpartum depression. It’s normal for new moms to feel weepy in the days following the birth but if these feelings don’t go away and you start to feel worse, speak to your doctor or a counselor.
3 Take regular ‘me-time’
Even stepping into the garden for five minutes away from a crying baby can make a difference. Schedule couple time too – you need to revisit the days when it was just the two of you to remind yourselves why you decided to have a baby in the first place…
4 Breastfeed if you can
Not only is this better for your baby – it makes things way easier for you too, because when your baby’s hungry all you’ll have to do is latch her on with none of that that messing about with mixing and warming formula feeds (a blessing when your baby is crying with hunger at oh-dark-thirty in the morning!).
5 Be a low maintenance mom
This is a must if you work outside the home and have to be out of the house first thing. Get your legs waxed so you won’t have to spend time shaving them; dye your eyelashes (no more mascara!) and get your hair cut in a wash-and-go style.
6 Sleep whenever you can
Catch up on any lost sleep by napping when your baby sleeps – it’s not the time to do the laundry or load the dishwasher (that’s what he’s there for!).
7 Learn to cope with crying
It’s your baby’s only way of communicating with you and it doesn’t necessarily mean much at all. If she’s fed, winded, changed and you’re sure she isn’t running a fever or unwell in any other way, lay her in her crib and leave the room. If you’re at all concerned your baby may be unwell, call your pediatrician.
8 Stock up on earplugs
Yep, you heard us. If you’re walking the floor all night long with a colicky baby who’s screaming right next to your left ear, that’s a whole lot of decibels. Earplugs will help muffle the earsplitting screech to the extent that you retain a degree of sanity (don’t worry, you’ll still be able to hear your baby).
9 Learn to relax
Train yourself to switch off or you won’t feel the benefit of any time away from your baby. Visualization and yoga are great methods of relaxation – it shouldn’t be too hard to imagine you’re somewhere else!
10 Set goals you can meet
Tell yourself you’re going to take a shower – then sit your baby in his swing or car seat and get on with it. Knowing you’ve done at least one thing for yourself will help you feel more in control of your life!
11 Whine when you want to
Don’t hold negative feelings inside where they’ll just fester and end up adding to the stress you’re under. Vent: to your partner, mom, sister, girlfriend, or on the Supernanny forums, and get it all off your chest.
12 Trust your instincts when it comes to your baby
You’ll be bombarded with advice by your mom, friends, magazines and books. Bear in mind that what suits one baby may not suit another – and you know yours better than anyone else!
13 Adapt to your baby’s age and stage
Children act and respond differently at different ages, so keep up – and make sure you’re not expecting too much from a toddler in the way of good behavior.
14 Tackle tantrums positively
If your toddler is driving you around the bend try to work out why he’s misbehaving – this should help you find a solution. Distraction is a great device for turning off the tears: have a box of rarely-used toys and magic one up mid-wail and you should see a result!
15 Don’t take it personally
Young children can be frustrating and exhausting but that’s just the way they are. Your child isn’t intentionally ruining your life!
16 Focus on the positive
Yes she can be an utter monster but think of her smile, her laugh, her artwork and her efforts to please you… and just try to ignore the Sharpie scribbles on the walls or couch.
17 Look after your health
Babycare is exhausting, and if you’re neglecting yourself you won’t cope. Your baby’s wellbeing depends on you staying healthy – so eat a balanced diet, avoid junk-food and drink plenty of fluids, avoiding caffeine.
18 Share the load
Why should you have to do all the night feeds? Shake your partner out of his selective deafness and get him to help with them so you can recharge your batteries.
19 Downscale your priorities
Unless you can afford a daily cleaner, your house will never again look like something out of House Beautiful. Forget being a neat-freak and don’t even try to keep the house spick and span while taking care of a baby.
20 Make mealtimes easier
Have a set meal for every day of the week – a regular menu can really help take last-minute stress out of shopping and cooking.
21 Avoid food fights
Don’t nag or bribe your child to eat. If she refuses her lunch, don’t worry: it’s only one meal, after all. Besides, if she misses lunch she’ll definitely be hungry enough for dinner.
22 Plan in quality time
If you work outside the home, devote 10 minutes to your child when you get home so she knows she’s special – then you can leave her to play with her toys while you get on with making dinner.
23 Let your child help with chores
She can help strip the beds, load the washer and empty the dryer – it’s time spent together after all.
24 Bath with your child
It’s an opportunity to unwind together after a busy day, and also means you won’t be dragging yourself into the tub or the shower at midnight. (Oh, and it save on water too!)
25 Make mornings mayhem-free
Do as much as you can the night before. Lay out the breakfast dishes and put your child’s cereal in an airtight container to reduce the rushing so you can fit in a story before you leave in the morning. An older child can help you lay out her clothes for the next day; you can check her backpack and make sure you’ve packed anything she might need at daycare or preschool.
26 Avoid getting into rows with your toddler
Well really, was there ever anything that was as big a waste of time and effort?
27 Tell yourself things do get better with time
The older your baby gets, the easier it’ll be to care for her.
28 Believe you’re doing a great job!
Don’t compare yourself to other parents – there will always be someone who seems more competent than you!