After months of preparation, you are ready. The nursery is painted, you have boxes full of baby grows and booties, you have more baby wipes and diapers than you can store away, and the cot finally looks like it won’t collapse.
You are going to have a baby.
Then, like a planned, yet completely unexpected, hurricane, your baby is here. Suddenly, your life revolves around this small person who cries, eats, poops, sleeps, and doesn’t seem to stop. Ever.
You spend your whole day counting how many diaper changes, how many poops, how many feeds your baby has had while desperately wishing you could take a shower and remove the smell of vomit from your hair.
Don’t get me wrong, the days, weeks, and months of life with a newborn are, in many ways, an absolute joy. Looking down on a tiny human that you have created, holding them in your arms, is about as wonderful as life can get. It’s an amazing experience, but it is hard work. At the start, it can feel like your whole life is consumed by being a new parent, making it difficult to imagine how you will ever be the same person again.
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, we have some top tips for how to have a life with a baby.
1. Build Your Support Network
This is crucial. We all need support in life especially after a big change, and nothing is bigger than having a baby. While you and your partner will be the primary caregivers to your bubba, there are lots of other people you can lean on.
If you are lucky enough to have your own parents, and in-laws, near you, don’t be afraid to ask for support. Grandparents love to spoil their new grandbabies, and they won’t need to be asked twice to come over for a visit.
They will also want to help so if they offer to cook, do some laundry or take your baby for a walk, let them. You don’t have to do everything yourself. You are not a failure if your mom does the dishes for you.
The same applies to friends. If they ask to come for a visit, it is OK to ask them to put the kettle on and entertain your baby while you do some chores. Most people will be happy to offer you a little respite, particularly friends with children of their own. They will know exactly what it’s like in those first few months.
2. Accept Some Friendships Will Change
Unfortunately, you may find that some friends won’t appreciate how much your life has changed and they might expect you to be the same person as you were before.
Try not to be too hard on these friends; it is possible that they genuinely don’t understand if they are not a parent themselves. Gently and calmly explain why you can’t go out drinking or go on a huge shopping spree at the mall. You could also suggest baby friendly activities like going for a walk or a coffee.
3. Make Friends With Other New Parents
Some new parents don’t have any other friends they can really talk about their baby with. Baby Groups are a superb way to meet other new parents and share tips and tricks about life with a baby. It is often a great way to form new friendships and has a guaranteed social event every week.
You can also make connections online if you are not sure where your local Baby Group is held. Websites such as Meet Up offer new moms the chance to chat and meet with other new moms in their area.
Developing new relationships with other parents can offer a great deal of reassurance as there is always someone to answer a question and offer encouragement.
4. Enlist a Babysitter
You know those friends and family members that can’t get enough of baby cuddles? They would love an afternoon, or evening, with your little one. Ask them if they would be willing to babysit for you so you and your partner can spend some time together.
A lot of new parents wonder when the right time is to have a babysitter, and the answer is simple: when you are ready. If the idea of leaving your little one fills you with terror, try a short amount of time first. Pop out for a coffee, or a walk for an hour, then, once you feel more comfortable, you can build up to lunches and evenings out.
5. Enjoy a Different Social Life
Speaking of evenings out, you can still have a social life with a newborn. Most people won’t mind if you bring your bubba to their wedding or birthday party. Just check first as you don’t want an awkward conversation when you arrive.
Babies love a change of scenery, and they won’t be damaged by a trip to a bar or restaurant. In fact, the more they do it, the more they will be used to it which will help as they get older.
Sometimes, despite all the best plans, it may not work. If your baby is ill, teething, or having an especially fussy day, you may need to cancel or leave early. If this happens, do not fret. Every parent makes sacrifices at one point or another.
If you do have to leave early, be pleased that you were able to go at all. Each time you do a little extra with your baby, it is a success, so praise yourself for that.
6. Join Online Groups
New parents can feel like their whole life is consumed by their baby. A good way to have a life with a baby is to spend some time each week on you. Maybe you have always liked the idea of doing a mindfulness course or completing a degree?
So much learning is available online now that you can pretty much study anything you want and there are lots of free/low-cost options. Click here for more information.
You could also look online for activities related to your own hobbies such as online reading groups.
7. Explore Creche Facilities
Lots of new parents find it hard to continue with their pre-baby exercise routine. Let’s face it, it’s a bit tricky to do a Zumba class with a newborn baby in your arms. Thankfully, there are many gyms that offer creche facilities (with experienced staff) allowing you to drop off your bubba, and head straight to your work out.
It’s an excellent option because you are close if your baby needs you, but far enough away to feel like you’re getting a break. If gym sessions are not for you, check out local spas as they often have creche facilities too.
8. Find Time to Relax
Finally, and most importantly, wherever possible find some time to just be you. If your baby is sleeping, read a magazine or take a nap yourself. Motherhood is a tough job so you are allowed to sit back and relax when the opportunity arises (and it will, at some point- I promise!)
If you are reading this thinking you will never be able to do any of the things we have suggested, remember, you have done an amazing thing, probably the most amazing thing you will ever do. You have created a tiny human and you are keeping them safe, happy, and healthy. Just take one day at a time, and you will soon see that there is life after a baby.
Do you have any other tips on how to have a life with a baby?
Share in the comments below.