One of the beliefs that many people have is that new babies sleep all the time, freeing you up to do all kinds of other things. Not only will you be able to sort out all the paperwork and put photos in albums, there’ll even be time to learn a new language. Then they have a baby and suddenly they have no time at all. ‘When am I supposed to have a shower?’ they wail. ‘I can barely find time to go to the toilet.’
Babies have no sense of order or time, they are just adjusting to the fact that the nice warm water bottle they were ensconced in has now gone away. 4.00pm or 2.00am, it’s all the same to them. This can send their poor exhausted mothers, still recovering from the birth, into a tailspin. They feel alone and panicky. They crave some form of order as a way to account themselves to the world marching past outside. This is certainly provided by any one of the numerous manuals that gives instructions on how to mould your baby into a regimented timetable. If this is helpful, then by all means follow it, but eventually all babies will be able to walk, talk and go to the toilet by themselves, whether or not you have followed a regime. The important thing is for you to find a path that makes you feel comfortable.
Infants are extremely portable. They also tend to sleep when out and about, which is less helpful when visiting the extended family who are desperate to get a smile, but extremely convenient if you want to go out to meet friends in a café or have dinner. And yet some new mothers deny themselves any kind of social interaction, because it always clashes with baby’s feed time or nap time and the manual states that the baby should only ever sleep in its cot at home. Is that what you think? The manual writer does not know you, your life and your baby. It is essential that you have some time for you. If you crave some exercise, then put your baby in a buggy and run round the park. Who cares if you look a little eccentric? You’ll feel better and your baby is enjoying the first rollercoaster of his or her life.
Another way in which you can take some control of your life by making your baby fit into your world.
- Invest in a sling, preferably one that adjusts so that you can wear it on front and back. That way you’ll be able to get on with other jobs around the house, while the baby slumbers peacefully on you.
- Take the baby into the bathroom and put him/her on a blanket or baby chair while you bathe and chat to them. You can also have them in the bath with you.
- Don’t feel you have to provide full on entertainment. Young babies are astonished by the new world around them and many will spend several minutes looking at a blank wall in fascination. They don't have a concept of quality play time, if they see you nearby, they will generally be quite content.
- Don’t feel you have to do all the chores while they are sleeping. When they are asleep, ideally so should you be. Have your baby in a sling or chair where he can see you and chat to him while you do the washing up.
- Enlist the help of friends, family or other mum friends to come and be with your baby if you need some time out for yourself. You do not have to spend every moment with your baby to be a good mum, but you do need some moments to yourself to remain a good mum.