I have just had baby number 6, so this isn’t my first rodeo.
Compared to my first and second babies, the experience with number 6, is just as hard but at the same time, better.
I could say I am a whiz now, and everything is easy.
But what I do have now is perspective.
A lot more patience.
And wisdom when it comes to raising a newborn.
I feel like I no longer survive the newborn stage. I thrive in it.
Sure, there are days worse than others, and some nights I crawl into bed, thoroughly exhausted.
but I am not feeling defeated, I know for sure it was just a bad day, and tomorrow won’t be the same.
I am not just keeping myself afloat in a vast ocean of unpredictability and chaos.
I can achieve things, plan, get things done and enjoy my days.
Here’s how I survive and thrive during the newborn stage.
First of all, know your role.
In the same league as “know your why” knowing why you are doing something makes embracing your capabilities over what you think you should be doing easier.
it’s the same during the newborn phase.
know your role.
your role and understanding it, help you make decisions regarding what you will take on, and what you will not.
Overwhelm is the main reason we don’t enjoy or struggle to enjoy and thrive in the newborn phase.
what you need to do is understand your role,
how to fulfil it,
and how to maintain it.
Your role for your newborn and your family during the newborn phase is:
These three elements alone are enough and a lot.
You do not want to take on outside responsibilities if you want to enjoy this stage and prevent feeling overwhelmed and defeated.
Your role is to be a mother.
and to be able to be a mother and to know when you are taking on too much can be a skill in itself.
is to create a mindset of rest and restfulness doesn’t always come easy,
- know when you need to take a break or slow down.
2. create an environment that facilitates rest.
3. understand how and when to switch to survival mode, in a way that helps rather than hinders.
Survival mode, when in the newborn stage of life, is not something you must dwell in 24/7.
no, survival mode is the most important tool in your tool belt.
Survival mode will ease your path, both mentally and physically.
So that you can work towards taking a break and so you can then naturally take on more when you have rested.
To be living in survival mode for weeks or even months at a time mentally is going to wear on you.
Not because physically it is bad.
But because mentally, you are aware that you are in survival mode.
And that in itself can be frustrating, feel limiting, and make you feel defeated.
Survival mode is a tool, and the trick to a good survival mode tool for mothers, is that you can switch it on and off whenever you need it, and if done right, when you emerge from survival mode, you emerge better than you went in, and not a hot mess.
There are 5 steps to a good survival mode in the newborn stage.
#1 PLAN AHEAD
During the newborn stage, survival mode is most used, and lived in, during the first few weeks after birth.
Once you are out of the most physical aspect of healing after birth and you begin to feel somewhat normal again, you will be in and out of survival mode.
From day to day, week to week.
When you are in this phase of life, you will find that you will have a great day or a great week, and then the next feel utterly exhausted and overwhelmed when trying to accomplish the same things you managed last week.
If you didn’t plan ahead before your baby was born and I am not talking about the baby’s room, I am talking, about culling your clutter, filling your pantry and freezer, deep cleaning, organising and meal planning.
And if you have children, child training in key areas so you can live in harmony as much as possible during your busy and sleep-deprived newborn stage, but if not, don’t worry you still can plan ahead now.
You need to make smaller plans.
It is tempting, now, when you realise you need it and you’re in the thick of the newborn phase, that making big plans can seem to be what you need to get your life in order.
I would strongly advise you don’t.
Been there, done that.
Instead, you want to make small plans, that you can accomplish in minutes, but that affect you in the hours, days and weeks to come once they become a habit.
planning ahead is more than just making plans.
you want to make the right plans when in survival mode.
how I like to spend my days, even when I am not in a period of having to do less, like living with a newborn or morning sickness is to divide my daily tasks into things to do that affect me now, and things to do that affect me, days, or weeks or even months from now.
from exercising to decluttering for 15 minutes, these are habits that affect you in the day you do them when it comes to making time and staying disciplined, but they also affect you in the weeks and months to come.
when it comes to planning ahead in the newborn stage, you want to choose 2 things that affect you later and three things that affect you now.
#2 MAKE A LIST OF FIVE
creating an environment that facilitates rest, means that rather than forcing yourself to rest in whatever your environment, day after day, which can be difficult and downright impossible if you have other children.
you need to create a restful mindset that allows rest alongside being productive.
make a list of 5 things per day and try and get them done.
be aware of your time your constraints.
It depends on the baby, some sleep through day and night, leaving you with the ability to still have a fairly easy time getting the important things done.
some babies don’t and there is nothing you can do about that!
don’t set yourself tasks and make a list that is impossible to accomplish, instead work with what you have, and create a list that works with your time constraints.
in order to make a list that works you need to narrow down what you should make the effort to get done. which leads us to number 3.
#3 DO WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU
in order to survive the newborn stage and thrive in the newborn stage, you need to make a list of what is truly important to you, to have done each day, and then work on making time for it.
In order to be successful while making your list of what is important to you, you need to be HONEST with yourself and what you can get done consistently.
what is important to me?
I like my kitchen clean, I would like to relax in a clean home in the afternoons, I would like to still grow some vegetables, homeschool right through the newborn stage and I would like to maintain weekly outings with my kids.
I like to cook, and it makes me feel good and having some with time my hubby is very important to me.
So is exercise.
all of these are “important” to me.
can I get them all done consistently?
when I am I’m survival mode, I choose the same things to prioritise each time.
this helps me get into a rhythm, it helps to know exactly where I hope to be at the end of the day or days, and it means I am prioritising what I know works for me.
- a clean kitchen and living area.
I choose these because each one makes me feel a certain way, when you feel positive about what you are accomplishing it helps to feel like you are thriving during a stage in life that it is easy to wish were over so you can get back to feeling good again.
this means my idea of planning ahead and my daily list of five revolves around these three aspects of my life.
My sixth baby is not a great day sleeper, some days she is good, and other days she barely sleeps at all, during the days she is good, I play catch up from the bad days.
you can feel like you are forever chasing your tail.
Instead, I stick to my three important aspects on the bad days, and on the good days, I still focus on those and add more tasks that I need to complete.
# 4 BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
another important aspect of thriving in the newborn stage is to acknowledge what isn’t working.
perhaps your list of five tasks is taking too long, or the things you picked that are important to you are actually not, or you have chosen the wrong things.
if you are ending the day having nothing done, you haven’t eaten well, and you feel gross, then your survival mode isn’t working.
you need to asses, where you are going wrong and how you can make small changes to fix it.
most commonly the place you can go wrong is not planning ahead.
if you make a list of five and all consist of catching up on yesterday’s tasks and you aren’t doing anything to help yourself tomorrow, then all it takes is one day more hectic than usual to throw you off for days, and then you start to stress.
instead, make sure you are working toward ending today, preparing for tomorrow and doing 1 thing that makes you feel good.
this can be done in very simple ways.
- one day a week, a meal plan should be on your to-do list.
- de clutter a well-used area of your home in 5-10 minute increments.
- make yourself a car bag and keep it stocked and sorted.
- don’t go to bed with a sink full of dishes.
- take the time to exercise or have a nap three to four days per week.
- spend time cleaning one area of just one bench, one floor, and one window in a deep clean way, choose one of these every few days to help stay in control of your home.
- clean in 15 minutes bursts.
- wash your face at the start of every day and do your makeup, or take the time to be dressed and ready every day.
# 5 TAKE A BREAK
to be in the mindset of taking a break just in general, you need to realise that the work you do in the home is never done.
There will always be grimy floors, dishes and laundry.
what you need to do to be able to rest in the newborn stage, not only to heal but to have time to bond with your baby and the rest of your family.
you need to know what is important to you and what can be done later.
For some of us this is easy, for others, (like me) this really isn’t.
I feel like I am programmed to only relax when everything is finished.
I have made a conscious effort this time around to ignore that urge.
I have set my priorities, Chosen what I will and will not take on every day and made sure that I spend as much time as possible snuggling my baby and enjoying this slower time of life.
TAKING A BREAK is not something we think we have to learn, what I have found is, that we actually do.
sleeping, sitting, simple meals, an untidy home and perhaps some raggedy-looking kids.
This is fine.
In fact, this is good.
you will never look back on this time and regret not having a clean home.
You have much more chance of looking back at this time with a new baby and regret not slowing down and enjoying them.
TIPS AND TRICKS ON SURVIVING THE NEWBORN STAGE FROM A MUM OF SIX
I am going to start off with a real banger.
you can let your baby cry
I have seen on the web a lot lately the idea that letting a baby cry is emotional neglect, that it will scar, scare and rob a baby of emotional fulfilment later in life.
It makes me cringe inside for many mothers run ragged, ruled by this belief.
Now let me clarify.
I DO NOT NEGLECT MY BABY.
she is fat and happy and is doted on by all her siblings.
AS gorgeous as she is, she also has the worst witching hour I have experienced with any of my babies.
Witching hour or hours is generally a time of day from 4-5 pm to 10-11 pm when your baby may not settle or sleep at all.
My baby does just that, she doesn’t sleep for up to 5 hours at this time of day. She doesn’t cry the entire time, she just wants to be not in bed.
I feed her, the kids play with her, hubby takes her for walks and we all try and get along as best we can.
at this time of day though, we eat dinner.
do I make the family deal with her while we eat, do my hubby and I take turns eating every night so she doesn’t cry, do I awkwardly cut my food every night while I nurse a baby?
I put her to bed, and let her cry.
I do so with no covers over her so she doesn’t overheat, leave the room and go and eat my dinner with the rest of the family.
If my hubby isn’t home to help while I prepare dinner, and I cannot safely hold her while I cook, and leave her unattended around a three-year-old, I put her to bed, put the timer on for 20 minutes and let her cry while I get as much done as possible. ( many times she will fall asleep and have a mni nap)
have a baby that is unsettled, and won’t sleep for more than a few minutes unless you are holding them?
most likely, your baby is cold.
This can be hard to get a good idea of. We can think that for sure, our babies cannot be cold, especially in their beds, with blankets and wraps, but if they are, they will not sleep for more than half an hour or until they wake in their natural sleep cycle, cold.
they will sleep on you or in someone’s arms for hours because they are warm.
Even in the middle of summer, you may need to dress your in multiple layers, especially if they are in air conditioning.
when you dress a newborn, the first layer is the most important, make sure they have something on their feet, and a cotton singlet to help keep their bodies warm.
Always use natural fibres. ( no polyester or viscose)
a baby that is cold will need.
and possibly another layer over that again if it is autumn, spring or winter.
try this out, adding an extra layer at a time and see if their sleep improves.
a gassy/fussy baby?
babies can be gassy for a number of reasons.
- bad latch. if your baby is not latching properly they will swallow air and this makes them have a lot of painful gas.
If this is happening to you and you suspect a bad latch, you can try and correct it, if you don’t know how to do this, or have trouble with nipple pain, buy yourself some nipple shields. These are a cover to go over your nipple when nursing, this can help with pain so your nipple can heal if the latch was bad enough to cause pain, and the shape of it can help a confused baby latch correctly.
use this for a few weeks and then try correcting the latch without them.
another reason for a gassy baby is drinking too fast. this happens to all of my babies, the only way to relieve inevitable gas pain is to stop every one to two minutes and burp them, especially at the start of a feed.
A gassy and fussy baby can be caused by something in your diet.
many babies are sensitive to dairy, milk especially.
If you suspect your baby may have a sensitivity to one or all of these foods the only way to find out is to eliminate them, and you need to stop eating them for at least a week to two weeks to see the full effect.
symptoms of a milk/dairy allergy are a fussy baby, a gassy baby, irregular bowel movements, and/or bowel movements or it can be diarrhea which in a newborn will look very watery and very often.
Their poo can also become grass-green and filled with mucous, which looks like shiny and sticky strands in their feces.
this may not happen right after birth, you may be fine eating dairy for several weeks before symptoms begin.
SOY is another common allergen in babies, so you may have to remove this as well.
for tips on what you should put on your baby as chemical-free and how to remove as many allergens and sensitivities as possible read the post below.
baby wants to feed all the time.
A baby that wants to feed all the time can be that way for several reasons.
first, your milk supply is low.
the main reason for low milk supply is you aren’t drinking enough fluids. Fluids will affect your milk more than food will.
that being said you need to be eating!
you can restrict sugary foods and processed foods for weight loss if that is something you want to achieve, but you need to be eating three meals a day and they need to be full of protein and fibre.
aim to drink 2 litres of water a day, minimum!
if you aren’t doing this consistently then your milk supply may not be as consistent either.
when you don’t eat well, you will have milk but isn’t the mix of watery foremilk and fatty hindmilk, it will be mostly if not all, the watery, sugary foremilk which doesn’t keep baby happy for long and too much of this will also cause a gassy baby.
if you think this may be the case then you need to work on eating more or just more regularly and drinking more water.
Avoid caffeine if you struggle to drink enough water, as this will dehydrate you further.
another reason that babies may be feeding all the time, is that they just want to, and they aren’t necessarily drinking, they are instead using you as a giant binky to eat, cuddle and sleep.
this is fine to get the baby to go to sleep, I always let my baby fall asleep at the breast.
but if your baby is waking minutes later and wants to be held and put on the breast again.
- check they are dressed well ( is baby cold?)
- ask yourself how much did you eat and drink today and yesterday? (is your milk supply not as high in fatty milk to keep your baby feeling satisfied?)
- is this new? Your baby may be going through a growth spurt in which case, continue to cluster feed and be sure to up your calories until your milk catches up with your baby’s demand than you can go back to eating how you normally do.
- if you have checked all the above and your baby is still not sleeping during the day or night and wants to be fed or held constantly. then you need to put the baby down, set a timer starting at 15 minutes and let them cry. monitor their crying, and get them up after slowly longer increments. however, in my experience baby will almost always fall asleep after 15 -20 minutes, and sleep for several hours.
how to take a break.
place children in bedrooms or somewhere to play or watch a tv show or movie.
listen to music, watch Netflix or a YouTuber you enjoy or simply enjoy the quiet.
set a timer for 20-30 minutes.
do something that is going to bring you mental stability.
this means if you have something in your home that is bothering you try and get it done, clear somewhere to sit and enjoy a cup of tea, and get started on cooking something if you haven’t in a while and you enjoy it. or simply sit and be still.
the more you do this, the more your other children will be better at giving you that time.
if you have a crying baby in the background that you need space from for a moment then I recommend earphones or music or some kind of distraction to help you achieve the mental break you need.
hello! I’m shenaede
Wife, mother, & homeschooler
Welcome to thesimplemamma!
I started this blog to encourage and inspire other women and mothers to embrace a role that is, unfortunately, seen as mundane, unfulfilling and unimportant.
this is just not true!
A role as mother, wife and homemaker is extremely important, should challenge you and be a source of fulfilment and joy.
thesimplemamma was created to show you how!