Let’s face it, the first months with a newborn are extremely challenging. Between changing diapers, breastfeeding around the clock, recovering from childbirth and trying to keep your little tot alive, no matter how strong you are, it’s hard! Exhaustion and hormones can get the best of you.
While I won’t pretend to have found a miracle solution to turn this difficult time into a walk in the park, these 4 simple yet effective tips will definitely help you stay sane. They worked for me!
TIP #1 – GET OUT DAILY!
Yes, in the beginning, the thought of getting out with the baby made me cringe. The constant cries, the fear that he would choke while I showered, the alternating pees and poos that called for yet another change of diaper before heading out; it all seemed so stressful! Oh and there was also the diaper bag. What if I was gone longer than planned, would I need that extra bottle, or that extra bodysuit in case we had a little “accident” on the way? At first, it took us 3 hours to get ready and by the time we stepped out, I was so frustrated that I was packed with negative energy.
Yet, I yearned to get out – it was a matter of survival. Luckily, practice makes perfect – by the time he was a couple of months old, I was a pro. Not that I had figured out how to put him on my schedule. But I just knew him better then, and I could deal with his little “surprises” pretty swiftly. The strolls in the park, the brunch dates with friends, and the trips to Shoppers Drug Mart, to Eaton Centre, or Starbucks were all so therapeutic!
TIP #2 HAVE A GIRLS ONLY SUPPORT GROUP!
I still don’t know if I was lucky or unlucky that several of my girlfriends were pregnant at the same time as me. On the one hand, I couldn’t expect much help from them, but on the other, it meant we were going through the same things and we could share our experiences, doubts and mistakes in a judgment-free zone. So many times, I got reassurance from a friend whose baby had a similar rash, or any of the weird little conditions that don’t last but can definitely freak out a new mom. My whatsapp mommy and girlfriends group was life saver for sure!
Funny enough, it’s even better to have friends on different time zones because that means you have 24-hour girlfriend support! When you’re on that feeding every 2-3 hours schedule, days and nights tend to look the same to you, so who knows when you’re going to have a melt-down! This is why having a friend you can call on at 3am without disturbing their sleep is big a plus!
TIP #3 TAKE A COURSE
Do you need to upgrade your skills for your career? Or maybe you like drawing, or cooking! Whatever you fancy, I’ll tell you that I’ve never, in my entire life, enjoyed going to class as much as I did during mat leave. It is extremely liberating, stimulating and rewarding! I remember the first times, it felt so strange to be walking in the streets of Toronto without a stroller, a baby bag, a baby carrier in case he cried, etc… you get the picture?
Here I was, walking freely with a tiny cross-body bag, taking the stairs to and from the subway, enjoying a cup of starbucks coffee, and most importantly, I was going to meet 20+ other adults and have adult interactions about a common interest and all this, away from my baby! How liberating! And for 3 hours, every week, I was going to listen to someone teach me something I don’t know. And my brain that felt like it was failing me on a daily basis, would, for the first time in a long time, get the kind of stimulation that I missed so much.
TIP #4 SCHEDULE SOME YOU TIME
Manis and pedis took on a whole new meaning for me this year. How delightful ! At some point, I needed some me time so much that I substituted some much needed sleep with a spa day! And some nights, after all the bottles were cleaned, laundry folded and next day meals prepared, at times, I couldn’t go without an episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah or The Ellen Degeneres Show before going to bed. Yeah, I may be a little over the top here, but these little breaks from my baby routine kept me sane in the midst of a constant chaos.
Have more tips? I’d love to hear from you! What helps you keep your sanity during your mat leave?