There’s nothing quite like parenting a toddler and newborn together. No matter how many books you read or classes you take, nothing truly prepares you for the tidal wave of emotions and sheer exhaustion of motherhood.
The newborn phase is all about survival.
Of course there’s the utter joy one experiences when becoming a new mother that cannot be matched, but, let’s face it, there’s also a significant amount of anxiety, worry and stress that comes with the territory.
I can recall a day not too long after my son was born. I remember feeling so accomplished when my husband walked in the door from a day at work.
“We had such a great day. I got so much done.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful, honey! What did you guys do?”
“Well, uh…we went for a walk…I showered (!)… uh…hmm…well, it sure felt like a busy day.”
Even small, insignificant tasks become huge hurdles to overcome with a newborn. It’s not difficult to succumb to the fatigue and develop some not-so-healthy habits. Bad habits like skipping meals, ordering take-out every night, not staying active or getting enough exercise. While it’s okay to do what you can to survive the newborn phase, it can be tough to break those habits as you find your newborn rapidly growing out of those adorable footie pajamas.
It’s easier to start off on the right track.
How to Stay Healthy & Sane During the Newborn Phase
Make small, healthy snacks readily available
I don’t know about you, but when I started breastfeeding my son it felt like I could easily eat a sumo wrestler under the table. I was starving all. the. time. In order to avoid overeating unhealthy food, I kept small, healthy snacks readily available at all times and in all locations (i.e. whenever & wherever I was nursing).
- Nuts, carrots & hummus, celery & peanut butter, cheese sticks, freeze-dried fruit, applesauce and regular fruit are all examples of easy snacks you can have on hand for those times hunger strikes.
- For late night feedings, a bottle of water by the bed was crucial along with a few non-perishable snacks, like trail mix or fruit.
I’ll admit- I hate to meal plan. I’d much rather head to the grocery store and pick out whatever looks good. OR, it would be really amazing if I had someone just tell me what to make every day and buy all my groceries for me! Since this is real life, I know making somewhat of a plan is important. I really love this idea from Beauty through Imperfection. The gist is to start making a list of all your favorite meals with ingredients. The goal is to get to about 30 meals. Once you are up to 30 you have a simple monthly meal plan! Here you can find some quick, healthy meals to add to your meal plan list
I also have friends who swear by ordering groceries for delivery. It can be a lifesaver if you’re having a difficult time making the time for grocery shopping. Personally, I enjoy going to the grocery store because it’s a chance to get out of the house.
Rest as much as you can
I know resting as much as you can with a newborn sounds like a complete oxymoron, but hear me out. My son held the “worst sleeper in the world” title for the first year of his life, so I found ways to sneak in a few extra hours.
- No one likes to hear the advice to “nap when the baby naps” because there’s so much else to get done (like shower). Since my son took so many naps in the beginning, I always picked out one that I would nap along with him. That way I still had other naps to get stuff done.
- Take shifts with your partner if you can.
- If someone offers to come over and help, let them hold the baby while you get in a power nap.
Walk! Walk! Walk!
It can be tricky getting back into pre-baby shape with that baby taking up all your time. If you fell off the exercise wagon while pregnant, it can be even tricker. One of the easiest ways to get back into an exercise routine is to walk as much as you can. You can walk with the baby in a carrier or in the stroller. If it’s winter, head to the mall or a museum. The bonus: babies typically fall asleep (and stay asleep) on these long walks.
Find quick & easy workouts you like
Once you hit the six week mark or whenever you get the okay from your doctor, it’s time to get back into an exercise routine. I find if I write down a workout in my schedule, I’m more likely to get it done.
- Find a Mommy & Me yoga or stroller strides class in your area. I fully attribute these classes as the reason I was able to get back into shape after baby.
- Does your baby like to take 10 minute naps at a time? Break up your workout routine! There are a ton of 10 minute or less youtube videos online. Or check out some of my own easy workouts.
Find the time to shower
It’s amazing how something as simple as a shower can really turn your day around. I know I took for granted how easy it was to hop in the shower pre-baby. Find a way to take that shower. Use a bouncer or rock n’ play outside the shower, hop in during a nap, or even bring the baby along with you.
Develop a quick & easy hair/makeup routine
While I make sure I take a shower everyday, I definitely do not wash my hair everyday. Fortunately, they say it’s better for your hair to not wash it so often. Instead, I have found a bunch of simple hairstyles that take no time at all to throw together, while still looking like I put some effort in.
- I love these 5-minute hairstyles for Busy Moms from Babble.
- Here’s a 5-minute makeup routine from Best Health Mag.
Get out of the house
I know how challenging it can be to get out of the house with a newborn… change the baby, get ready yourself, change the baby again because they just had a huge blowout, gather up all the baby’s stuff (how does such a little person have so much stuff?), feed the baby because they are hungry and crying, burp the baby, change the baby again. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. I tell all my friends with newborns to take advantage of this time and get of the house, go out to eat, meet up with friends because newborns, for the most part, will sleep through it all.
Make some mommy friends
For many moms, especially those who are used to going into work everyday, the newborn phase can be a terribly isolating experience. Even though you are with another, rather loud, tiny human all day long, you may still feel completely alone. One of the ultimate ways to stay healthy and sane during the newborn phase is to surround yourself with other women going through the same things.
- Find a MOMS CLUB or MOPS group in your area to connect with other moms of newborns.
- Find groups on Facebook or Meetup.com.
- Head to a new mom’s group or breastfeeding support group. Many hospitals run groups for new moms.
Tricia is a former Kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom to her easy-going toddler with another one on the way. She is passionate about fitness and health, and writes for the blog The Good Mama about simple ways to stay active and eat healthy while enjoying life with her son and husband. Find her on facebook, pinterest, twitter and instagram.
Want more on motherhood?
- When Nothing Prepares You for New Motherhood
- My Top 10 Newborn Baby Sleep Tips
- 7 Ways to Stay Active for a Healthy Pregnancy
What’s your best tip for surviving the newborn phase? Let’s chat in the comments!
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