Wouldn’t early parenthood be so much easier with some sleep? I remember presenting my baby to the doctor and saying, ‘I don’t care who you medicate, but you need to medicate one of us as I NEED to sleep!’
When you talk to new parents the overriding thing that people have in common is that they are tired and let’s face it being tired makes coping with the challenge of parenting just so much harder.
Here are my top tips for coping with the endless tiredness of new parenthood
- Use the early mornings well. If your baby is like mine were and wakes early, why not use that time to the full? In my experience at the beginning of the day, the baby (or toddler) is in a great mood as they are well-rested. So, use that time to do things that they might otherwise find dull. I used to use that time to go and do the shopping. The supermarket was fully stocked as the shelves had been filled overnight. There was no one in the supermarket, as quite frankly, not many people choose to shop at 6.30 am and those who were there were only too happy to be helpful. It meant that my toddler could get out of the trolley and ‘help’ without fear of losing them in the crowds of people and the older people who were also in the shop, LOVED seeing the babies. One man followed me from aisle to aisle one morning as I shopped with my youngest dressed in wellington boots with ducks on them, a blue tutu and a builder’s hat and my eldest was in a crown, clippy-cloppy shoes and a handbag. He was an older gentleman, but always just a bit too close to be comfortable. Finally, he took hold of my arms, somewhere between the tins of beans and the dairy counter and said, ‘Please, take time with your babies, this is such a special time, they grow so quickly and you will look back on this time and realise quite how special it was.’...He then walked off; I never saw him again. If I had, I would have told him QUITE how tired I was and that I would be enjoying it so much more if I just had a full night’s sleep or two!
- Understand that letting your baby play alone (while you have a FULL, HOT cup of coffee) is not only ok, it is actually good for your baby and it is GREAT for you! Your baby is new to the world. They have seen nothing before… everything is new. So, giving them time to look, explore, touch, feel, see, hear, smell is a sensory sensation for them. You do not need to be the paid (or actually unpaid) entertainment for your baby! Giving them a toy and letting them explore it alone and seeing what it feels like, seeing what happens with it, exploring it, is how they learn. It also helps them build their concentration, their ability to investigate, to problem solve and to make their own games. In the fast-paced world that we live it, it is all too easy to think that our babies need to be occupied fully all of the time. This just isn’t the case. Babies need time to think, to take things in, to process what they are seeing, feeling and experiencing before they can do something with it and use what they have experienced. So, take the time for you, enjoy it. Sit alongside your baby and let them explore, while you sit back and drink that coffee and breathe! You will both be SO much better for it.
- This is said often and followed rarely, but really do sleep when they sleep… HONESTLY just do it… it will make SUCH a difference to your day and your babies day and you never know, when your partner comes home at night, you might even be able to hold a useful conversation with them as you will not be so tired that you are just desperate to get to bed!
- Gather together a number of activities that you can do with your baby (like a little library of activities) that you can do at the end of the day. At that point in the day, I used to be so tired that I couldn’t think of things to do. You know the time of day when dinner is done, but there is still an hour before you can bath them and put them to bed. At that point I just wanted someone to come up with ideas for things to do with my baby and I would happily have done it but coming up with the ideas was just too hard. So why not collect a few favourites. For us, one of our favourites was going outside after supper and playing races. I would sit somewhere and then tell the children to run-up to the top of the garden and then race back to me ‘like a car’, or ‘like a pony’ or ‘like a duck’. The children loved it, they got exercise, language development, and had to use their imagination. They also burned off all that energy from eating and I got to sit down! (this is a great time of day to do lots of the Olliki 1000+ activities). You could also get a shoebox and write some cards with activities on and cut a hand-sized hole in the lid of the box and your toddler pulls one out each night for you to do together.
- Do something for you! For me, it was making sure that I had an evening that was childfree. We would get the babies into bed, and have supper together, watch the TV and yes I was often in bed at 8 pm, but I had done SOMETHING that made me feel like I was a person in my own right, not just a mum and chief bottle washer!
How do you get through your tired days?