1. Accept help
Immediately after delivery, I did not like anyone helping me. I stood awake all night though I had a nanny and my mom was with me. I wanted everything related to baby, to be done by me. I realised I am on the fastest route to burn-out and I needed to slow down and accept help from people around. There was nothing demeaning or making me less of a mother if I accepted help.
2. An involved spouse
As per Desi culture, men are rarely involved with the mother and baby especially during the initial days. I find that a pretty wrong concept. Taking care of mother and child is primarily the duty of the husband, not her parents! There were days when husband went at 5 AM for work came back at 7 PM, took the baby from me so that I could shower and have a bite and then prepare dinner and then wind up for the day at around 12 AM only to start this same routine all over again. This was our situation until around 4 months. But I know those really long and hard days when we barely had time to talk to each other strengthened out bond and our belief that either way, we have a partner who will be there always!
3. Organisation and Routine
I was the most organised academic student but I am the least organised when it comes to housework and chores. I do it because I have to do and not in a position to outsource. Something that helped me was having a routine or a plan. (The plan rarely worked to the dot but a rough outline helped!) Eg: Baby Laundry on 3 days. Our laundry 2 days. Vacuuming once a week. Bathroom and kitchen cleaning once or twice a week.
4. Meal prep
This helps a lot! Marinate the meat and keep in the freezer. Veggies that can be cut and frozen, do so. Early breakfast before 6 AM is the hardest for me. What helps me is either preparing the breakfast/curry/side dish etc the previous night and reheating the next morning or making idli/dosa batter for the week. Sandwiches – prepare the previous night and grill in the morning. If no option, cereals!
5. Let go
The house is often never clean, there are always dishes pending in the sink and I haven’t seen the end of my laundry bin in ages. Something that has helped me is to let it go and not to stress over about it. I often ask my guests to call me before coming (or hello welcome to a messy toddler house!) Being on top of my house chores was something I could never do the entire year.
6. Promoting independent play
We were given a play-pen and it truly has been one of the best gifts ever. Frankly, I did not know of the concept of play pens until then. Until 12 to 13 months my baby used to sit in her play-pen and play with toys or look at the bright colours in board books. It is how I could get a breather. It is what promoted her interest in independent play and not to have to be constantly entertained by me or TV or any device. And gives me the needed break! (This has changed a little now at 18 months still on days I am sick or overworked, it still gives me a needed respite)
7. Me time
What we often forget during those initial few months is giving ourselves some me time. Either going out for a walk or a spa or working on your hobby. Anything that you use to do prior to motherhood and evokes an interest or passion in you.
8. Support from other moms
Participate in Mom Facebook groups, play groups, mom and baby meet-ups to discuss about your babies, milestones or maybe just to rant. Do not isolate yourself. Adult interaction always helps. For me, my biggest support system has been my neighbours. We all have children of the same age. Meeting up with them not only helps me in taking a break but the kids get to enjoy with each other when we sit and gossip 😀
9. Baby Gears
There is absolutely no need to buy every baby gear. The market is flooded with Jumperoo, Rockers, Sliders, toys with music and battery and what not. You can forego many of the gears and be not stressed out on not providing your child with them or be made to feel guilty if you cannot afford them. Pick and choose what gears would make parenting easy for you and buy them rather than be ruled by the market-herd-culture. It is not as ‘necessary’ for a baby’s growth as is made out to be. Invest that money either into passive toys that really evoke an active sense of playing in the baby or board books.
10. Educate yourself
This should be first on the list. Whether it be breastfeeding, sleeping schedule, feeding schedule, baby wearing, cloth diapering etc, read every possible book, blog or flyer you get. Yes, information-overload does happen often and you tend to worry when the book says babies walk at 9 months and your little one isn’t even crawling at 9 months! But learn to absorb the knowledge and practise it in such a way that it is tailor-made for your situation and family. Take the good and ignore the bad is my mantra. Also, I do not recommend reading medical advice from books, FB groups, blogs etc unless you are sure the person is a certified and registered physician
Feeling stressed out and want a break?
COLOURING BOOKS reduces anxiety and creates focus thus relieving stress in a manner similar to meditation. Concentrating on colouring may facilitate the replacement of negative thoughts and images with pleasant ones. Colouring books can be used in daily activity and are a way to get away from technology, which some regard as beneficial to people’s health.
Here are two beautiful colouring sheets by Fahima from InkTangle. One sheet is from her book and the other one is specifically made for the readers of this blog.