I remember the dread I felt when the first day came for my husband to return to work and I would be alone all day with my newborn. I felt like I was barely getting through with his full support, so how could I possibly survive on my own?!
I was fortunate to have help the whole first month of Charlotte’s life (more details on that experience to come), but I also got to a place where I felt completely dependent on that help. When the Band-Aid was ripped off and I had to face caring for my newborn solo, it was a daunting and scary imposition. I found that I was capable though, and I have news for you Mama- so are you!
I have a few tips to help make sure you get off to the best start possible! Here are my top 5 tips for surviving your first week alone with baby, as well as a daily sample schedule for a guide.
You will have a lot of quality baby snuggling time!
5 Tips to Survive Your First Week Alone with Your Newborn:
Your job is to keep your baby fed.
You may find that your first week alone is only days after your little bundle of joy is delivered, or like me, you may be fortunate to have a few weeks of support first. Regardless, most Mamas’ will still have little newborns on their hands when their first week alone comes, and newborns eat a LOT. Keeping them fed is a full time job. Most eat every 2-3 hours (or less!) and especially if you are breastfeeding or pumping, nursing/pumping sessions can take up to an hour depending on your baby. That is the time equivalent of a full time job, plus overtime!
If you are able to remember this and think of this as your main job, then come the end of the day if your baby is full you have SUCCEEDED. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t get to the laundry, the meal prep, making the bed, or writing the baby thank you notes. Sure you have a to do list, but don’t focus on all of the things you weren’t able to get to. Focus on the success of completing your #1 job, because it’s hard work and you did it!
Also, don’t forget to eat yourself! You need energy to get through your day and take care of your baby.
Add one new task every day.
While you should make sure to not overly exert yourself during your postpartum period, at some point we do have to resume taking care of our house and family. Instead of adding everything back onto your plate at once, try adding just one task a day. If the next day you are able to do a task again at that time and feel able to do a little more, add another task. This gradual approach will help you to accomplish what you need to without leaving you feeling demoralized and rundown.
Remember, you are still in the very early stages of this new motherhood thing! Not to mention probably sleep deprived, healing and hormonal. You definitely could be the greatest super mom someday with the perfectly clean home straight out of a magazine, the well groomed kids straight out of a catalog, and an eight pack to top it all off, but don’t expect that of yourself today! For this week if both you and the baby are fed, no one is in mortal danger, and you have showered in the past 5 days then you are rocking it! Build off of that platform instead of the other way around.
Your baby is your new accessory.
Charlotte loves when I wear her, and I love being able to keep her close while still having two hands again! Our baby carrier was a life saver during the newborn period. Not only did it enable me to get some things done, but Charlotte was so happy in it! It was also one of the only ways she would nap well early on. That made for a happy baby and a happy Mom.
We actually have 2 carriers- the Moby Wrap and the Ergobaby I love the softness of the Moby Wrap and it feels very natural to wear, whereas the Ergo baby seemed stiff to me and took more getting used to. They both were useful though and I needed both at different times. I usually wear the Moby Wrap around the house and the Ergo Baby whenever we leave. It is perfect for walks or trips to the grocery store. I am definitely glad we have both options, and highly recommend that you try out a few styles to find what works best for you! Most baby stores will let you try them on to get the feel of them. I actually selected both of ours online without trying them on but read extensive reviews about each. Let me know if you have any specific questions about our carriers- I’d be happy to share more information!
Using our Ergo Baby out at the pumpkin patch with our little 5 week old.
It’s ok for your baby to cry.
Now, not for long periods of time, but they will be fine if they are crying for a few minutes. My little one hated to be put down for her first two months of life at least. Sometimes though, I had to. I couldn’t hold her and change my clothes for example, but hey, I need to change my clothes! I would set her on my bed and quickly get dressed, talking and singing to her the whole time. Sometimes she was fine for those short amounts of time. Other times, she screamed till the moment she was in my arms again. Ultimately though, she was perfectly ok and we were both better off.
Another time to remember this is if you find yourself at the end of your rope. Has your newborn been screaming at you for 30 minutes, though you are sure all of their basic needs are met and have no idea what else to do? Since you are alone and do not have someone else you can hand them off to, it is better to put them down in a safe place for a few minutes and compose yourself instead of keeping them in your arms and unraveling. Go to a quiet room for a few minutes, take some deep, calming breaths, shed a few tears if you need to, and then go back to your screaming little miracle and see if you can comfort them.
This week is not an example of all the weeks to come.
If this week was hard and leaves you feeling defeated, don’t worry. That doesn’t mean every week here on out will be! You and your baby are still learning about each other and how to navigate the day to day. It gets easier, I promise! Charlotte is only 23 weeks as I write this and already our weeks are so much easier then they were just a short time ago. Your babe gets a little less demanding and more engaging, you get more experienced, and you both get to know each other more.
- Your job is to keep your baby fed.
- Add one new task every day.
- Your baby is your new accessory.
- It’s ok for your baby to cry.
- This week is not an example of all the weeks to come.
Charlotte during our first week on our own. Taken during the two minutes she was ok not being held. 🙂
|Day 1 Sample Schedule:|
|7:00 AM||Baby Wakes Up|
|Change Diaper and Baby’s Clothes|
(If your baby is happy, take a little bit of “me time” and take care of Mama!)
|** Make the bed|
|8:00 AM||Eat Breakfast|
|10:00 AM||Baby Eats|
|12:00 PM||Eat Lunch|
|1:00 PM||Baby Eats|
|4:00 PM||Baby Eats|
|6:00 PM||Baby Eats|
|8:00 PM||Start Baby Bedtime Routine|
Fill in the time between “baby blocks” with relaxing and lots and lots of baby snuggling!
**: Add task on day 2
***: Add task on day 3
****: Add task on day 4
****: Add task on day 5
Example tasks to add to schedule:
- Make Bed
- Do 1 load of laundry
- Empty/load dishwasher
- Wipe off kitchen counters
- Tidy up a room
Mama, you got this!