Did you know that there is a study that found out that new parents can expect that they’ll lose sleep for six years? Sounds overwhelming isn’t it? When I first entered motherhood, I already expected that I am going to have sleepless nights. However, we all know that constantly not getting enough rest is detrimental to the health.
I imagine reliving those college all-nighters or when I used to binge certain TV shows for weeks without sleep. But now, I have to stay awake and energetic to tend to my little one. Think about it, how are you going to be able to change your baby’s diaper or prepare his/her milk when you’re feeling drowsy?
The following are the “tricks” that I discovered on how you can navigate momhood, while not losing shut-eyes. So you can keep your cucumbers in the fridge, and test out the following:
Active Days and Calm Nights
The most effective way that works for me is by simply treating my day and night differently. As long as the sun is out, I tried doing all my tasks that require energy and extra effort. This also includes playing and interacting with my baby. This way, I’m also helping him/her to distinguish the time. Remember that babies wouldn’t know the difference between 4 am and 4 pm.
During night time, I like to make sure that I am calmer and less active. This means I talk a bit quieter, and I don’t engage as exaggeratedly with my little one. If you spend the day doing tiring and stimulating activities, when the evening comes, your little one will also have an easier time sleeping.
I also found out that starting a bedtime routine helps both me and my baby to sleep easily. If you think about it, sticking to a routine allows the baby to predict what he/she needs to do. And that is night times are calmer and more relaxed. If you have older children, sticking to a bedtime routine also allows them to distinguish when it’s time to wake mommy and daddy up.
An example of a routine for a baby can start as simple as putting him/her down even if he/she is just a bit drowsy. This is also applicable to yourself as a mom. Simply avoiding distractions such as the phone or television as you lie down even if you’re not yet sleepy.
For me, it puts me in the mood to relax when putting some white noise machine while I nurse my baby before he/she sleeps. Yes, we’re still doing an “active” activity, but this distinguishes my cheerful nursing mode in the day from the calm, quiet nursing mode in the evening. You can also include massages, lullabies, or storytime in your routine with your kids. When this happens daily, you’re also training them that these steps eventually lead to slumber.
Doing these things does not only induce sleepiness onto your kids, but also to yourself. If both you and your baby are in a relaxed state, then sleeping when your baby sleeps is going to be much possible. Which brings me to my next subject, it’s okay to sleep when your baby is also sleeping.
I used to take the opportunity of my child’s nap by doing other house chores and work-related tasks. However, what you’re doing is robbing yourself of some rest because when your baby wakes up, you won’t be able to get some anymore. This can still vary for each parent, but it’s all a matter of adjusting your daily routines.
Learning When to Say No and Yes
Say Yes When…
Another thing that I had a hard time accepting as a new mom is that it’s okay to ask for help. I have this whole expectation of myself, and the things that I want to do before my baby arrives. But the thing is even if you want to be independent and all, there are days that you need to rest.
Don’t underestimate the power of having a “me time”, especially when you become a mom. Taking a step back, reflecting, and appreciating your achievements, keep you grounded. In the long run, this will help you prepare to tackle the new challenges in parenthood.
There’s no point in wearing yourself out. If you do so, you’ll not be able to perform at your best for your baby. A well-rested mom is an efficient and loving mom. You’ll be less annoyed and overwhelmed with the tasks at hand.
When friends and family offer to help with the baby, take them. Especially when you trust them, there’s nothing to worry about in letting them bond with your little one. And just like I said, you’re also allowing them to connect deeper with your baby. As your little one grows up, he/she will know a lot of people that he/she can trust. And of course, they can help you throughout your child’s upcoming years.
My husband and I also established a division of tasks. For example, all the feeding and diaper changing will be mine in the morning. And once he gets home, he will be responsible for these baby tasks. Being open to communication with your partner not only strengthens your parent-child relationship, but also your relationship with each other. This way, both of you will be less likely to clash in ideas because you’ll be able to understand the other person better. You’re also eliminating disappointment from expectations that you didn’t voice out in the first place.
Say No When…
Learn to say no and be at peace when saying no. This means accepting that there are some things that you cannot do at the moment. Having a baby at home is a huge responsibility, and it can be overwhelming on its own. Adding more tasks can overwhelm you, which eventually makes it more difficult for you to do all tasks efficiently.
If you have no help for the day, it’s okay that you say no when to some things. For example, when friends visit to catch up, you might be obligated to entertain them and prepare food. However, you already have your hands full with a baby at home. Trust me, they’ll understand if you want to reschedule when you can get help with babysitting.