The following is a guest post from my friend Dianna Kennedy.
As the mother of five, I’ve experienced the craziness of bringing a new baby home a few times. Introducing Maeve into our family was a piece of cake, so I’ll share what worked for us. Hopefully, this will make your life as a new mother run a little smoother.
1. Lower Your Expectations My friends know that this is my mantra for many things, but it holds true when you’re bringing home a tiny new bundle. During the months leading up to your due date, take a look at your calendar and start eliminating things aren’t that important.
2. Prepare as Much as Possible Before my twins were born, I called my husband from Target. I needed him to meet me there, to push a gigantic cart to our car. I had loaded up on toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes and more — all the essentials we need for day to day survival. Stock up on supplies you need for your home, schedule hair appointments and doctor visits before the baby arrives, and start filling your freezer with easy meals. I’m an Amazon Mom, and my UPS man knows it. I have diapers delivered, along with wipes, shampoo and fun snacks. The prices are comparable to brick and mortar stores, and I don’t have to load the Kaboodle into the car or wrestle with a giant grocery cart.
3. Get the Camera Ready Take pictures of days leading up to the birth — a picture of your bags packed, one last belly pic, a family photo minus the new baby. I cherish these pictures so much! They are a vivid reminder of my anticipation and how my family has grown.
4. Say No In the past few years, I’ve learned the fine art of saying ‘No’. I’d love to be more involved in church and other volunteer activities, but my family is my top priority. My rule? I run it by my husband and ask his opinion. I also give it 24 hours before I respond.
5. Say YES I’ve often sung the praises of my family and friends who brought me meals when my children were born. This was such an amazing help in those early days of minimal sleep and many mouths to feed. If someone offers to bring you a meal, or help out around your house, just say YES. One of my dearest friends came and cleaned my bathrooms when my twins were born. I wanted to die of embarrassment, but it was a labor of love and a cherished gift to me.
6. Be Prepared for Anything When my Kaboodle met our newest addition, it couldn’t have been more idyllic. They all adored the baby.
I count myself lucky — keep in mind that your children at home may love their new sibling, or be consumed with jealousy. It’s all normal.
7. Take Care of Yourself Ick. This is one of those ‘do as I say, not as I do” sort of things. When I found out I was pregnant with Maeve, I was training for a half marathon. One day, I was running 10 miles; the next day, I was exhausted. I didn’t exercise during my pregnancy and I’m paying for it now. While you’re pregnant, try to keep moving. After the baby comes, start with gentle exercise and move on from there. Load the baby up in the stroller or carrier and head for a walk. Don’t forget to eat right — you still need plenty of protein, calcium and water if you’re nursing. Sleep is a hot commodity in the newborn period, but try to get as much as you can.
8. Do What Works for You You’ll find a bazillion opinions about parenting out there. Co-sleeping pros and cons, decisions about vaccines, breastfeeding …. it’s enough to make your head spin. Follow your heart. We’re a co-sleeping, very selective vaccinating, extended breastfeeding large family. Some folks think we’re nuts. My catch phrase is always, “We do what works best for our family.”
9. Don’t Forget Your Husband I’m blessed with a rock star husband, who makes life with many small children run pretty smoothly. (as smoothly as a circus can be, right?) As a mother, you bore the lion’s share of work — carrying the baby, nursing, watching your body go through a myriad of changes. Fathers have a different set of stressors during a pregnancy. He’s worried about you, the baby, the rest of the children, and how in the world he’ll ever pay for this! Cut him some slack. Take the time to say thank you when he changes a diaper or reads to the older children while you nurse the baby. Encourage him to be hands on, and be sure to have plenty of kisses, hugs and kind words for him in between all the chaos.
10. Take Your Time It’s often been said that “the days are long, but the years are short.”
As I grow older, words like this pull at my heart. My oldest is almost 18 … her baby years seem light years away. Even Rachel made a comment about how fast Maeve was growing up — she’s already 7 months old. Laundry will wait, deadlines will come and go, but your children are only tiny once.
Soak it up.
Dianna is the Catholic homeschooling mother of 5, ranging from an infant to a high school senior. You’ll find her writing about her misadventures in homeschooling, living her faith, and trying to stay fit … all while managing a large family. Catch her at The Kennedy Adventures or find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Google + or late night on Twitter.