It’s been a long time since I had a baby in the house, and I have to admit I had forgotten just how exhausting having a baby was when I gave birth to my new little bundle of joy.
As cliché as it sounds, I actually fell asleep in a bowl of cereal one morning! My husband was just as exhausted, sitting across from me at the table. We laughed and decided then and there that there had to be a way to get more rest.
Parenting is tiring…there’s just no way around it! But if you’ve got a new baby in the house and spend most nights in and out of bed wondering how much DO newborns sleep, these tips will help you get a little more rest when you need it!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
You don’t need to do this alone. You and your partner shouldn’t feel like you can’t ask for an extra hand as you adjust to life as a parent. You know the expression: it takes a village! So, call on your village. You’ll be surprised how happy your friends and family will be to help.
The best thing I ever did was write out a list of chores I simply didn’t have time for anymore. These weren’t particularly fun or appealing activities like holding the baby. When my kids were little, taking care of them wasn’t really where I needed the help. Changing a diaper here and there was a nice break, but what I actually needed was someone to take on everything else I was used to doing like laundry, dishes, cooking, and cleaning. And you’d be surprised by how many people are willing to help with those things!
Do Your Best
At first, I couldn’t imagine asking for the kind of help I needed. I was embarrassed about how much of a mess my house had become, but I was also too tired to do anything about it. Looking back, I had no idea how much more tired I was going to get. I reached a point of exhaustion when I didn’t even have the energy to care about that stuff anymore.
That’s when I decided I had to let go of some of the standards I expected would stay the same before kids. It’s so important for new parents to give themselves a break. Your priority is shepherding new life onto the planet, and that’s a big job! There’s so much to keep track of, don’t sweat the small stuff.
Teach Your Baby Good Sleeping Habits
If you didn’t know how big of a job being a parent would be, you’ll realize how amazing you are when you’re faced with teaching your kid to sleep through the night. Like many, we started working on nighttime sleeping with our little one at around 6 months. We’d gone from worrying and wondering how much do newborns sleep to the beginnings of building a proper sleep routine for our baby.
At this point, you have a lot of experience with sleep deprivation. The good news is there are plenty of tips for putting your baby to sleep that really work. Some are intuitive, like sticking to a routine, but others were new to me, like not nursing at night anymore.
While we’re on the topic of eating, make sure you’re treating yourself well. This applies whether you are breastfeeding or not. You want to make sure that you are still taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin, while also getting the proteins, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats you need to sustain your highly-demanding lifestyle.
Remember that taking care of yourself is also taking care of your baby. Eat balanced, home-cooked meals with whole foods as often as possible. I found that setting aside a few minutes each day to sit down and eat with my husband amidst the chaos was profoundly calming and satisfying. Your partner is your best ally, and that relationship is worth nurturing.
Closing your eyes for as little as 15 minutes can do you a world of good. Make this shut-eye time a priority: create a special space with everything you need to get the best sleep possible. Beyond giving yourself a chance to rest, trusting a loved one to look after your baby during these incremental periods is great practice at letting go, something we all have to learn as new parents.
If you just can’t manage the naps, consider meditation. You’d be surprised how rested you can feel from spending a little time meditating. Start with listening to your breath or listen to a recorded tape, whatever gets you to a relaxed place. You’ll feel an enormous change after sitting quietly for as little as 5 minutes. With practice, you can extend how long you feel comfortable sitting.
The interesting thing with meditation is that you can take the exercise to the streets, so to speak. Parenting is an art in itself and meditating allows you to take a step back in all things. Practice calming your mind while your baby is screaming or you’re on a family vacation in a bustling city—it’ll make you that much stronger as a parent.
Finding time to sleep with a newborn can be tough, but as long as you take advantage of these simple tips and tricks, you should have no problem winding down after a rewarding day with your little one. And a well-rested parent makes for a happier family all around!