Thursday, January 12, 2012

Keeping busy to stay sane as a new mom

When Noah was born, I spent a lot of time at home initially.  Everyone says that you should keep your baby away from fluctuating temperatures and germs.  What they didn't tell me was that staying at home would make me stir crazy!  My husband leaves the house by 8am and most nights isn't home till after 6 (when Noah was born it was closer to 7pm).  Eleven hours alone with a screaming baby is a looong time!

Staying at home with your baby has its merits.  You get acquainted with each other, you learn to read baby's hunger and tired cues, you can begin to establish a routine for babe, and you can spend the day in your pjs!  The downfall is that you're all alone, tired and frustrated because those first 3 months are extremely difficult.  And being by yourself can push you into a deep funk. 

I struggled a lot in those first three months.  I breastfed for 6 weeks and Noah was very colicky.  He would scream for at least 45 minutes after every feed because he was gassy.  The feed itself was challenging because I had too much milk, which would choke him, so he'd pull off and we'd both be soaking wet.  He wasn't a great napper initially, so I spent a lot of time carrying him around the house, checking the clock to figure out how many hours it would be till B came home from work.

There were a lot of days that I didn't even shower, because it wasn't worth listening to him scream the whole time.  Those were the worst days.  I felt dirty, tired and frustrated that B got to go to work and get a break from the madness.  Of course, that wasn't the case at all.  He was tired too.  He was frustrated that he came home during the "witching hour" and Noah would scream from the moment he walked in the door till he went to bed.  We ate dinner in shifts because someone had to hold him.  Despite my best efforts, he woke several times during the night, sometimes to help me settle Noah because I tried for 90 minutes and couldn't take it anymore.  And then he had to go to work and pretend he was awake and sane.  It was not a good time for either of us.

But then I discovered some mom and baby activities.  We signed up for a local Momstown chapter (which offers all kinds of daily events for moms and babies of all ages), we signed up for Mothergoose classes at the local Ontario Early Years Centre, we enrolled in an outdoor Strollerfit class.  Suddenly things started to pick up and I felt human again.  And here's why doing this helped (in no particular order):

  • It forced me to shower and get dressed.  Showering was the one thing that could ease my exhaustion.  It made me feel like a real person again, like I could conquer anything that Noah threw at me.
  • Exercise made me feel good, and helped me lose my baby weight, which made me feel even better!
  • Meeting other moms was therapeutic.  No one else can understand what you're going through, not even your husband.  Having people who "get it" and can offer suggestions and words of encouragement is a necessity when you're a new mom.  Knowing you're not alone and that whatever you're going through won't last forever, kept me sane.
  • Your baby makes new friends, and you do too!  There's a group of women who all met in different programs, and now we get together every Monday and let the babies play while we chat.  I look forward to it every week, because we have fun, we learn from each other, and we have a chance to vent without anyone taking it personally (ie, our husbands).
  • You're a better mom when you're happy!  When I'm in a good mood, I have the mental capacity to stop, take a breath, and get some perspective when I'm frustrated.  There's many times during the day when Noah is crying because he's tired, trying to fight me because he wants to roll while I'm changing him, or he's just cranky for no apparent reason.  I have to make myself stop, think about why he's doing what he's doing, and look into those adorable eyes to remember he's just a baby and not a mini terrorist trying to drive me nuts!
A friend told me early on to try and have one outing a day, even if it's just to a store or for a walk to get out of the house.  I now find that Noah NEEDS to get out, otherwise he gets cabin fever!  We have one activity a day, and many of them are focused around the activities he likes best (singing, music, dancing, swimming, listening to stories).  That way we both enjoy it, and I feel like I'm making the most of our time together.  PLUS, he's usually exhausted after our outings, so he gets a nice long nap, and I get some much needed ME time!

What activities have you enjoyed as a new mom?


  1. Oh how I can relate. Sadly I didn't sign up for anything. I do get out mostly to grocery shop or walk in the mall. I think I'm just too shy to go out and meet people. But you are right just getting out helps you feel much better about yourself, and the shower too!! I made it one of my goals this year to get a shower in every day. Sad isn't it that we have to try and schedule a shower in!!!

  2. I totally agree that if you are happy you are a better mom. Motherhood is noble and important, but I think it is important to not lose who you are but to add it to who you are, if that makes sense. I love to take my boys to museums. I also love to date my husband. We have another couple that we "swap "with about twice a month. They watch are kids while we go out for the evening and vice versa. It is a much needed break for me and some great connecting time for us. I like it better than a babysitter because its free (money wise) and I feel more comfortable leaving my kids with another mom rather than a teenager.