Getting stuff done with a newborn

Hi! Welcome to my blog! Maybe you came to find out how on earth you can get anything done with a newborn at home, but you are certainly welcome to stay and read a little more about the truth about feeding small children, maybe get a little inspired by a shift in perspective, or just laugh about the time I had to disassemble my oven. If you like what you read, you can sign up for posts via email (in the sidebar there). I post about once a week or once every two weeks, so your inbox won’t be flooded by my presence, no worries. Or you can follow my Facebook page, which is more active. Whatever works for you! Enjoy! 

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One of my readers, a new mother, requested a post about getting things down with a newborn in the house.  My recollection of how I managed with a newborn is a little hazy now, what with Really LIttle Man being a big ol’ 20-monther.  But in honor of today, my due date, I thought it would be prudent to take a moment and think about how to handle those first, physically challenging months with a tiny little baby.

Little Man, fresh out of the oven!!!

What I do remember about life with just one newborn is that I was up at odd hours of the night, wide awake, and thus was able to blog more than I expected (weird, right?).  Also, that things like making a sandwich seemed like an insane luxury.  A sandwich?  Who has time to make such things??!!  I ate a lot of frozen waffles, I think.  I don’t remember.  Somehow I survived.  Showering was also something that I learned to really, really appreciate when it actually happened.  Everything revolved completely around my new baby and his schedule (or lack thereof).  Sleep?  Right.  Cute.

double trouble. Or something.

Life with a newborn and a toddler was different.  I discovered that I was totally able to nurse with one arm while preparing a snack with the other.  It’s amazing what I can actually accomplish with one hand, no joke.  Also, I had realized that life would be easier if my kids were on something resembling a schedule, so I put some effort into that, and it helped.  I was in the middle of a big musical endeavor at the time, so it was a bit of an abnormal situation.  I was really cranky a lot (sorry, band sistahs!).

This pregnancy has been different than the previous ones, being that I have two energetic little boys who need my attention.  A lot.  And they don’t really care about my sciatica.  Or heartburn.  Or fatigue.  They really don’t.  They want me to read them that book, or go play outside with chalk, or whatever.  And that’s cool, but I’ve noticed, with some chagrin, that I have about zero energy for anything extra in my life.  Music projects?  Hahaha.  Blogging?  Sorry, not much coherent thinking by the end of the day.  My goal for the day is basically this:   Take care of the family; make sure the house doesn’t fall apart; sleep.  So I imagine that my life will have a fairly similar tone once the baby comes.  Take care of the family, make sure the house doesn’t fall apart, sleep.

As for my personal strategy for this baby, here’s what I got:  My mother is coming in (tonight!  Woot!) for nearly two weeks.  My neighbors are making meals for me (it’s an amazing system where women I sometimes barely know make meals for me.  It never ceases to amaze me how people are willing to help each other).  My mother-in-law will be coming in when the baby is about a month old.  I have a freezer packed with food for well over a month.  I’m planning on sending Little Man to a camp in the morning, and Really Little Man to a babysitter for the same time slot.  I also have cleaning help once a week.  That’s my plan.  That and really, really lowered standards of what my house will be like, organization-wise.  Remember the mantra: Take care of the family, make sure the house doesn’t fall apart, sleep.

Now, because everyone is different, and because I love crowdsourcing (it’s one of the positive things about social media, IMO), I asked around to my Facebook friends, my wonderful readers, and my Twitter friends, to see how everyone else manages with a newborn.  I got a fabulous response from many of my experienced mommy friends, and am happy to share some of the wealth.  Also, they were very sweetly encouraging to me, as I approach the state of being outnumbered by my progeny.  Love you, ladies!  You’re fantastic!

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Fraidy:  Sleep when the baby sleeps.  Send younger siblings out if you have to (babysitter,playgroup whatever) and do tons of meal prep ready to go in the freezer.  Sleep when baby sleeps btw is easier said than done.  Take extra cleaning help and enlist chesed girls.  The more kids you have, the less chance of being able to get sleep.

Leah:  Strap him/her to me and go.   This works until about 3.5 months.  After that, the bouncy seat was my best friend.  Extra laundry help if you can get it.

Rivka:  My third was my easiet (I hope for you too!) because I had absolutely zero expectations about getting any sleep or getting anything done.  So, everything I got was a bracha. Also, I made it a priority to get all 3 to nap at the same time in the afternoon, so I was able to sleep then.

Gail:   If you have more then one young child, do your absolute best to get them on the same nap schedule! (of course my 2.5 yr old stopped napping at 16 months :( so I didn’t experience this!)

Tzipporah:  For me, newborns are easy!  It’s once they hit like 5 months that I start pooping out with exhaustion!  Lower your standards. That’s the only way to deal I guess haha.

Rivkah:  For me, it has been just the opposite of Fraidy’s experience as far as sleep is concerned. I jammed as much stuff into when the baby slept as I could. With Gary, I was doing a lot of work on the house when he was newborn (still am, but he has for the most part shed his nap, sadly), so I used that time to paint, strip the trim, cut mat board for pictures–do all that stuff that I don’t want the kids/baby around. Obviously everyone is different, and if you need sleep by all means get some shut eye! But for me, I found that if I didn’t do “me” things, I would get into a deep blue funk very easily. I do agree with what Fraidy said about meals, though. Freeze away, baby! Even now,without a newborn, I always make them bigger than needed so I can freeze leftovers for the days that I am too zonked to shop and cook. It also helps with the budget for my husband to always take leftovers to work as lunch. No $8 stops at the bagel shop.

Yaffa:  Truth be told, each time I had a baby it was different. Number two was the hardest and it was the winter. The best was when I had #3 when then temp outside was beautiful – I loved going for walks with or without all the kids made everything peaceful. I also made sure to have a good set up for diapers, wipes and anything I needed located in places so I didn’t have to go up and down the stairs.  Also finding a good places for everyone to sit in the car. With the sleep stuff I slept one extra cycle with the baby in the morning so I could function all day and not need a nap.

Heather:  Going from one to two was incredibly difficult— I just LAY there that whole 2 minutes. (for those of you who don’t know me I only have twins born 2 minutes apart via C section). :)  In all seriousness, when my kids were newborns they were soooooooooooooooooooo much easier. They ate, slept, pooped. I could leave the room and move a load of laundry and not worry that one would bite the other, shove the other’s head in a toilet, etc. I loved the newborn stage.

Rena:  Sleep and don’t worry about the house.  Maccaroni is ok for breakfast, lunch and supper and it’s ok if the house is a mess.  As long as everyone has something to wear in the morning the rest doesn’t matter

Rachel:  Get help. Send your kids out, or bring in a babyistter for the baby, or for the older ones.

Brina:  Freeze food in advance and/or friends give up to 2 weeks of meals, parents come to help, other people take care of night feedings so I can sleep.

Yaffa:  I don’t live near family and therefore never had help after birth.  Cooking and freezing in advance makes everything a gazillion times easier.  But mostly I think its a mindset and attitude.  Expect to be tired.  Expect to be drained.  Expect to be overwhelmed.  Because by being prepared for it, its already half as hard.  I also find that getting up and getting dressed every day helps significantly. From the day I come home from the hospital I’m fully dressed. Hanging around in your pjs makes you feel tired and yucky and less able to cope. If you can put makeup on, even better.

Marilyn:  Sleep with the baby. You can sleep through much nursing, and baby sleeps better next to Mommy. Less exhausting than getting up every time baby cries — and less likely to wake up the other kids.

Nina:  Help. Any help in any form, from people dropping off food or taking your big kids for play dates. And slowing down the rest of life.  Biggest tip is this: you have to say no to lots of things for a few months. It’s time to hunker in and stay put. It won’t be forever!

Yael:   I second the freezing food in advance. Also–if you do have help after birth, take advantage of it! REST! Don’t get out of PJs for a week–it may make you feel a bit less put together but it also puts you in a resting/relaxing state. You’ll have enough to do after that.

Mandy:  I suggest have or get a really good support system. Whether that’s family, friends, neighbours, or paid help.  Have it all ready BEFORE the baby comes. I”H everything will be good and easy but sometimes there are complications and if we are prepared then we can cope better.
Shoshana:  using the 5 s’s from The Happiest Baby on the Block, plus learning to ‘cope with not coping’.

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Okay, wish me luck, and luck to all the new mothers and mothers of new ones out there!  And have a great Shavuos, too!  Yum yum cheesecake!

19 thoughts on “Getting stuff done with a newborn

  1. Rivki.. Beshaah tovah!!! And as far as advice i would give a new mama.. which for me seems like it was three lifetimes ago– I WISH I would’ve been more present in every moment. Even the not so much fun ones– like when my baby peed and it landed in my open mouth (I KNOW GROSS) I just wish i wouldn’t have been so eager to get through it- and would have been more appreciative of being present and enjoying my kids as infants and toddlers- it’s time one can never get back

    1. Thank you! And, yes that’s totally gross! I’ve been in those “ew” moments thinking about how amazing it is that I get to experience this unique experience in life. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  2. You. Are. So. Cool.

    Thank You!!! Now I feel like not the only person in the world with a balagan house who treasures sandwich-making ability!

    B’Shaah Tova!!


    1. Aw, shucks. You are definitely NOT alone! I’ve found that when I’ve ventured to reach out to other mothers about things that I struggle with, even things I’m mortified about, that many of my friends are going through similar things (or at least can provide moral support). No sense in us all wondering if we’re losing it alone, when we can all kind of lose it together, uh, I mean support each other! Hatzlacha rabah!

  3. I wanted to add to my suggestion above — ENJOY that too-short newborn phase, the sighs, the cries, the squeaks, the tongue and mouth opening wide for nursing, the wide eyes looking at the world for the first time, the swaddling, the teeny diapers and fingers and toes, the funny facial expressions…. And, the first smile at YOU makes all the sleeplessness and pain worthwhile.

  4. My “babies” are 22 years old (twins), and it’s only a hazy sleep-deprived memory now. I do remember especially cherishing showers! And loving putting them in their stroller and walking whilst ignoring the messy house. They always slept so great after a walk! In a different vein, though, I thought of you when I saw Google yesterday, Rivki! Did you compose anything on that moog synthesizer?! I was trying to play with it wishing I had your skills. Hatzlacha with all that’s on your plate.

    1. That was a great doodle! I didn’t compose anything; too much prep for Shavuos and baby to do! But I did enjoy fiddling around just a bit, at the end of the day. And I just enjoy saying moog. Moog!!

  5. Rivki: as I prepare for Tech Support’s bar mitzvah (about a month away),! I now understand why G-d broke my womb after one child. Seriously! I am no party planner!

    That said, you’ve got this as far as the kids go. I think my one weird tip is don’t forget your husband. Right now, call a restaurant and make dinner reservations to somewhere fabulous 4 weeks from now. (Baby #3 will be here by then, G-d willing). Go out just the two of you and try to talk about something other than the kids. You are going to be great. And if you are having a rough time, tweet! There’s always someone there! ;-)

    1. I think that’s a great tip! The poor husbands can get brushed aside while we are stumbling around in our sleep-deprived zombie state, covered in spit-up and various other excretions. I think that I may plan a night out when my MIL is in town, in about a month. That sounds great! Thanks!

  6. This is really cool! I love reading everyone’s thoughts. Do any of these mommy’s have recommendations for meals that freeze well? B’shaah tovah!

    1. Amen, and thanks! I love it when mommies get together and share their knowledge. Everyone benefits, really. As for freezer recipes, I’ve frozen kugels (corn, broccoli, and potato, though some people have had difficulty with freezing potatoes). Also meat stews, chicken soup, meatloaf. Cookies, cakes, brownies are also good (and nice to have a dessert on hand in a pinch!). Also challah. I have tons of challah in the freezer.

      You could always try Googling around to find recipes that freeze well. Also, Leah Schapira’s cookbook has a whole section on recipes that freeze well. Bless her.

  7. My favorite memory of having a toddler and baby was sitting the big one on my lap while nursing the baby and reading them books. I had a large comfy rocking chair.

  8. All great tips! I’ve now been doing the toddler/ newborn thang for just over a month and these are the things that really help me:
    – Family: my in laws having the toddler at their place, especially if it’s in the morning (because both kids are SO active then), really helps me just focus on the baby, doing some chores and getting some rest.
    – Frozen meals: so easy, enough said.
    – Taking a shower: I know it sounds silly and trivial, but taking a shower every morning, even if it’s just 2 minutes, really help me focus my mind and body on the day to come. It forces me to get dressed as well, and does so much for mind set.

    1. Family in town is SO helpful. My mom was in for two weeks, which turned out to be the week before and after the baby was born, and it was a lifesaver. I completely agree with the frozen meals and shower. I’ve showered exponentially more with the baby around than when I was pregnant. TMI? Perhaps. But that’s how it worked out. :)

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