Being a mom of two, I know all too well that what you envision in your mind going down when you bring your babe home from the hospital isn’t always the way it works out. I’m an organizing freak and pride myself in always having a plan and all my ducks in a row, but nothing really prepares you for those few first months at home. After all, both you and your family, no matter how big or small, are going through a major adjustment period, and it takes some time to get anywhere close to balanced again.
I got really discouraged when my organization fell through and to-do lists didn’t get checked off. Eventually, I accepted the need to just let things go and embrace all the chaos that new motherhood brings. So, here are some tips from people who know best, plus one that I think I learned the hard way.
1. Be accepting of how life will be from now on.
Dr. Kathryn Smerling, Upper East Side family therapist and currently on staff as a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai in the department of OB/GYN, finds that acceptance is key. “What you really have to be aware of is that your life post-baby will never be the same. A lot of new mothers fall into this mindset that their life still has to be just as organized and perfect as the way it was before, and this is a mistake. Forget thinking that it's going to resemble that and just be mindful that it's a whole new paradigm- and that's OK! For a while it will feel like your baby, and everything that comes with it (morning feedings, changing, sleeping, etc.) is ruling your life. It will be chaotic, it will be far from perfect, but it also can be the most wonderful time of your life.”
2. Know that it’s not just you against the world.
I fell into this category at times and felt that because I’m the mom, most of the responsibility needs to fall on me, and that’s overwhelming. Your partner is there to help you through. And “don't be embarrassed to ask family, friends, hired help, etc. And don't resist it when it's offered — welcome it freely and know that people are there for you because they WANT to be there. A lot of new mothers say this makes them feel weak, but this couldn't be further from the truth. We all need help in our lives at one point or another,” Smerling adds.
3. Limit guests, including “services.”
Monica Banks, founder and CEO of Gugu Guru, shared with me that “one of the biggest pieces of advice that I can give a new mom is to limit guests during those first six weeks. Not just because your house may be more unkempt than usual; it’s because you just don’t need more bodies in the mix. As helpful as a cleaning service sounds as a gift for a new mom, sometimes a new mom just wants to walk around the house in all her ‘postpartum glory.’”
4. Add a Roomba to your registry.
“And let it clean for you while you sleep (or, more likely, do not sleep),” Banks adds. I agree a million percent here. The last thing you want to be worrying about is housework — it can always wait.
5. Grab all the sleep you can.
“It's widely understood that you're going to get less sleep if you're a new mom, so try to adapt to your baby's sleep schedule,” Smerling suggests. I think that “adapt” is the key word here. Your schedule and routine will be different, and sleeping when the baby sleeps isn’t always the easiest thing for moms to do, so find a sleep schedule that works for you — even if it’s not what you're used to.
6. Make career decisions so they aren’t weighing on you.
This can be a tough one, and something that you might not even know how you feel about until the baby is born. Smerling advised to “assess your work environment/boss/culture and determine how supportive they're going to be. Most maternity leave is the standard three months. If you think it's okay to work from home so you can spend more time with the baby, go for it. If you decide you want to take less than three months away and go into work a bit earlier, make sure you're spending enough quality time with your newborn before and after work.”
7. Find a self-care routine that works for you.
And lastly, taking care of yourself is my major advice to new moms every single day. I couldn’t have survived new motherhood if I never had a moment to myself, got a shower every day, or stepped out from time to time for a manicure. Figure out the balance that works for you and your family and stick to it. Your sanity will thank you.