Babies and Schedules? What’s the deal?

I saw this great family today. Baby is 4 days old; he is baby number 2 for this mama. The baby was feeding well, milk was coming in, and mom felt good. While we talked, her older son (3 and a half) was bouncing around and chatting away with mom and dad. He didn’t pay too much attention to his little brother, and mom seemed pretty comfortable so far navigating the new waters of having 2 little boys. After I observed the baby feeding and we discussed a few other breastfeeding concerns she had, mom pointed to her first son and announced “I won’t make the mistake of trying to get this baby on a schedule like I did with him”. Dad nodded his head in agreement. I was surprised to hear her say this – I usually hear new mothers proclaiming their dedication to obtaining some sort of schedule.   “This time” she said, “I will just go with the flow”.

Such wise words.

In the many years that I have been working with families, schedules are an important piece of the postpartum puzzle for many new parents. This is really difficult, and I try and coax mothers to keep an open mind about developing a schedule with a baby at a young age. Schedules flaunt structure and routine during a time when so many changes are happening. Parents are looking for something to set in place so they can feel like they are balancing everything. However, no one ever bothers to tell the baby that this so-called schedule is being implemented. Babies have their own ideas, and it is usually y not anything like what your schedule says. Babies are very unpredictable. They eat at different times each day, sleep can be erratic and spontaneous and it is nearly impossible to foretell their temperament. For some new mothers, this is a scary concept. Structure is a way of life for many people (not me, of course. I fly by the seat of my pants) and the thought of going through the day not knowing what will happen is downright scary. Because babies are their own little person, their needs are specific. Just like ours. We aren’t hungry at the same time each day, we don’t sleep the same each day – neither will your baby. The only difference is that we can discuss this with everyone around us, and your baby can’t. The more you push your baby to get into a routine that works for you, the harder things may seem.

Take this time to get to know your baby. After the first few months, babies may be easier to guide into a routine that is more predictable. I have discovered through my experiences that the more relaxed and “go with the flow” things are in the beginning, the easier everyone adapts. This time goes quickly, enjoy it.

Self-Care in Motherhood

Ah…motherhood.  The excitement of pregnancy and the anticipation of that little one entering your life.  These feelings of enthusiasm can be quickly replaced by exhaustion and anxiety.   It can take a while before you are feeling in control again.  How can you keep up?  The idea of self- care can feel light years away.

Whether you are someone who managed to build self-care into your regime before the baby was born, or someone who is now struggling to maintain sanity in the face of sleep deprivation, self – care can be life saving.   It doesn’t matter what your idea of this looks like.  Maybe a few minutes to take a walk by yourself, or a hot bath.  Maybe it’s an evening out with friends…without the baby.  Whatever it is, recognize that this is a very needed, therapeutic piece of parenthood.

My kids have all crossed over into the world of teenagers in the last few months.  Thinking back on their early years, self- care was not something I did much of.  I was going through a divorce when my kids were toddlers, and it was difficult trying to find time for myself.  Now that it is much easier to actually find that time, I feel those familiar pangs of guilt setting in.

“…there’s laundry to be done…and here you are at the gym…”

“…getting your toes done?  You should be vacuuming something…”

My mind taunts me.  Needless to say, my inner self almost always wins.   I can always find an excuse to NOT do something for myself.  I am the perfect example of “do as I say and not as I do”.

Now that I have been working in maternal child health as a lactation consultant for several years, I have seen the importance of taking time out for you.  I have heard countless therapists discuss the importance of self-care.  I have learned first hand that if you are able to work this in from the start; it becomes easier to continue as time goes on.  Since this can be difficult to do, I am including some tips to get you started.  These are very easy things you can do to make time for yourself.  You’ll be glad you did.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-s-white/6-things-moms-should-do-for-themselves-as-often-as-possible_b_11363962.html