Five Sanity Saving Tips I Have Gotten from Other Moms for Baby’s First Year
I felt like my baby stole my sanity the instant she was born. I used to be a list-making, task-crushing, organized, and focused productivity machine. I was efficient, nothing slipped through the cracks. Now that I am a mom, if I brush my teeth and put on clothes that I didn’t wear the day before, it’s pretty much a win.
My first year with my baby pushed me to the edge of what I thought I could handle emotionally and physically. There were days when I was just trying to make it to my baby’s next nap without crying or yelling. I had a lot of friends and family dive into motherhood before me (thank goodness), and their tips and wisdom along the way helped me to survive and claw my way back to sanity in those first 12 months. Here is some of my favorite advice I received:
Don’t sleep when the baby sleeps, it doesn’t work.
If I could switch off my brain and fall asleep every time my baby does it would be great, but I can’t, and I suspect many others can’t either. Instead, try to rest and relax when your baby naps. Whether that means watching the latest trashy reality show, drinking coffee in silence, or doing some yoga, try to do something for yourself. Don’t always rush off to clean the house, catch up on emails, check in with work, or plan your week’s grocery list when your baby naps. Yes, that means you might be behind on some things or drowning in laundry but that is okay.
Get up before the baby.
I know this sounds crazy. You are probably thinking I already don’t sleep, and you want me to wake up extra early!? I thought it was crazy when I first heard this suggestion. A friend said that if she has hit six hours of sleep (even broken sleep), she chooses to go ahead and get up at least an hour before the baby usually wakes.
She said it helped her avoid waking up and instantly having to be at a dead sprint, feeding the baby, changing diapers, etc. Instead, she could gather her thoughts, plan her day, and start at a slower (and quieter) pace.
I have found this to be critical to having a good start to my day. I actually would rather be a little sleep deprived and get this time to myself. When I don’t get up before the baby and jump straight into mom mode with no time for myself, I set a more frantic tone for the day, and overall feel crankier.
Embrace the things you like doing with your baby and minimize what you don’t.
For example, I love reading to my baby, making silly faces, playing with blocks, and taking her to the park, but I kind of hate singing cutesy songs with motions. I know, what kind of mom am I? But with our first baby, I dutifully would sing song after song, because I thought it was what I was supposed to do.
I will never forget the freedom that came with another mom telling me I should minimize doing some of the play-time activities I didn’t enjoy and really focus on the things I love doing with my baby. She said she hates pretend play with her toddler, and she does not do it most of the time, guilt free. Sadly, it never occurred to me that I could have some boundaries when it comes to how I play with my baby. It may sound selfish, but I am at my best as a mom when I am enjoying our day, which benefits my kids too.
Take advantage of community events and entertainment.
As a first-time mom, I was holed up in our house quite a bit. My sisters encouraged me to start getting out more, especially once my baby hit six months. They suggested a lot of free resources I could look into, and now we are out and about almost every day (and not spending a dime).
- Check out your local library. Our library has a free story and song event several times each week. It also has a host of fun baby toys and board books in the kids’ section, which have entertained my child for hours.
- Sign up for your chamber or city newsletters to get notifications about free events. Our town newsletter has informed me about free events like parades, fireworks, and truck shows, as well as free take-home art and activity kits.
- Parks, Parks, Parks! I mapped out all of the parks within a ten-mile radius from our home and we have been trying to hit them all. We have found some epic parks with playgrounds, splash pads, sandboxes, and massive water table installations that my baby went nuts over.
- Search for local Facebook mom groups where others post about events. This has helped me to track down free kid’s concerts and mom and baby workout classes.
- Zoos and Museums. To save money lookup free days at your local zoo and museums. Yes, it might be insanely busy, but go early and leave early.
Find things that help you recharge WITH your baby.
In an ideal world, my husband or a babysitter would take my child for several hours a week and I would have spa treatments, quiet lunches, and ample time to recharge by myself. But most days just going to the bathroom alone for ten minutes is the biggest chunk of time I get in the day to myself. I noticed early on that some of the happiest moms in my life were good at finding ways to recharge and pamper themselves a little, with their babies in tow.
My favorite ways to recharge are:
- Going for a long walk or run with my baby in her stroller while listening to a new podcast.
- Picking up coffee and a pastry at our local bakery and then finding a big grassy area at a local park where my baby can roll or crawl around while I enjoy my treats (somewhat peacefully).
- Doing short workouts with my baby in her playroom. She loves to watch me and giggles when I pick her up and use her for some weighted lunges. Yoga is the best though – she will crawl all around me and climb up on my back. You don’t need goat yoga when you have a baby.
As we start planning to have another baby, I honestly wish sometimes that I could just birth a 12-month-old and skip the slog of that first year. But all of the chaos, long nights, spit-up, leaky boobs, crying, and messiness is more than worth it for those endless cuddles, squishy kissable cheeks, and baby giggles.
What sanity-saving tips have helped you in your first year as a mom?