Recently a friend wrote and asked me for advice about how to pass the time at home after becoming a new mom. Maybe what I wrote to her can encourage you or another new mom in your life!
1) Go for walks. I have found it so helpful to get some fresh air in the afternoons between nap time and bedtime. It helps my mental health a LOT to get out of the house and breathe some outdoor air!
2) Skype. We Skype with my mom almost every day and having the grown-up interaction is a lifesaver. Thanks, mom! Aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. love seeing Audrey, too!
3) Routine. It may be a while yet before a newborn settles into a more predictable pattern and that is totally normal. I have found that I really thrive off of routine, though. Even if things happen at different times each day for you, it can help to know that in the morning you’ll Skype with someone, then have lunch, then go for a walk in the afternoon, then read some books to baby in the last little bit before Daddy comes home. It just gives a little structure to the days so they don’t feel so long.
4) Playdates. This can be tricky if you are trying to keep baby away from other kids but I’ve found it SO refreshing to spend time with other moms. Maybe you could have a friend over for coffee!
5) Music and/or sermons. At Audrey’s stage it is harder to listen to sermons, but sometimes if she is playing quietly I can listen to one. I find it helps to give my brain and heart something to think about it. I also play music a lot, even if it is instrumental as it gives a nice soundtrack to the day.
6) TV series. Audrey was a HARD baby and would often take 1-2 hours to settle down for the night and would need to nurse a lot. In those first few really hard, dark, winter weeks I watched a Downton Abbey episode every night and it made those long evenings something more fun. Alex and I also watched White Collar in the evenings which gave me something to look forward to.
7) Enjoy your trips to the Pediatrician! While you’re out, drive through somewhere and treat yourself to an ice cream cone– or a salad! I would sometimes just sit in the car and enjoy being out of the house.
8) Rest. Listen to all those people who tell you to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” You’ll find a new normal soon enough– keep work and cooking to a minimum in the mean time. (If baby isn’t sleeping, you might want to check out Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child or The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems).
9) Get medical help when you need it. I remember being scared of “failing” the postpartum depression questionnaire my OB’s office gave me at my six week appointment. While I apparently “passed” (I don’t remember them saying otherwise), the fact is I struggled with postpartum depression symptoms for a very, very long time after becoming a mom. When I finally got medical help, it was life changing for my marriage and my mothering. If those around you, especially your husband, are telling you don’t seem like yourself, listen. Don’t be afraid of getting help. (You might want to check out this simple questionnaire.)
10) Remember that “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him” (Psalm 103). As a mom, I can easily feel like I am not doing enough. At least for me, I need to remember that the Lord is watching over me and caring for me just as much as I watch over and care for Audrey.
If you are a parent, what advice would you you have for a new mom? I’d love to hear!