These Five Ways to Make Parenting Easier won't keep parenting from being the hardest job ever, but they might give you a little sweet relief. #SoundBub #CLEVER
When my oldest was six years old, I delivered my fifth baby. None of my kids are multiples. Yes, you read that right. No, I'm not crazy (yes I am). We never intended on having kids so close in age, but thanks to a few bumps in the road on the way to parenting, this is how it worked out. I adore my kids and am thankful for them every day, but wow. Talk about baby boot camp. It was five years of back-to-back newborns and I barely made it through with my sanity. Some might say I didn't.
But in those five years I learned so much about how to function - and I made it out alive, so I think that's saying something. I'd like to share a few tips I gathered along the way. Take them or leave them (spoiler, that's one of the tips), but maybe they'll help someone get through the day.
1. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for help when YOU need it.
Everyone wants to hold the baby when they're being sweet and cute. But funny how baby is immediately handed back to mama with the first sign of fussiness. This is unfortunate, and unhealthy! In the initial two weeks of being a mom, I almost never saw my baby happy. It made me feel like a failure and it wreaked havoc on my emotional state. What I realized later was that whenever the baby was happy he was taken away from me. "Oh, you need a break - let me take him off your hands" but as soon as baby upset "Here, here, baby needs his mama."
What I took away from this experience with subsequent babies, is that it's perfectly okay to ask someone to hold and soothe a cranky baby. And ask them to do it out of earshot. If someone's pacing a fussy baby near mom, short of being shut-in by a snowstorm, it's a passive aggressive attempt to guilt mom into soothing baby. Don't stand for it. Either leave the room or ask them to leave the room, turn on some music or white noise and enjoy the peace. And when the baby is soothed and you want her back? Take her. She's yours, after all.
2. Prepare, Prepare, PREPARE
The best thing I ever did was to double (and sometimes triple) every recipe I made in the months before a baby came. I would put the leftovers into the freezer and this saved so much time and money when baby arrived. Most folks don't realize how much food is freezable. Everything from casseroles, to soups, breads, burritos, even cheese and butter if you find them on sale!
Even now, I keep a separate chest freezer full of prepared food. We're not in the newborn stage anymore, but we're neck deep in school work, music lessons, and after school sports!
3. Just Say NO
If you're feeling tired and over-baked, it's okay to say no. Whether it's to attend a birthday party or help out with a potluck, politely decline. Your friends will understand. And if they don't understand, then they're not really your friends anyway.
4. Just Say YES
I know, I'm awfully contrary aren't I. This is for those things you really want to do, but "well meaning folks" are telling you to skip. I'm here to say don't put your life on hold because others think you should. We've brought infants to Disney World, enjoyed date nights, and gone on long hikes. All things many people gave us the side-eye for. But if it's something YOU are comfortable doing, and you WANT to do (and, of course, it's not putting the baby in jeopardy) - then by all means live your life. If I said no to everything I wanted to do because I was pregnant or had an infant, I would have gone a full decade as shut-in. No, thank you.
5. Find a Schedule that Works for Your Family
You could build a house with the number of books there are that will tell you how to properly schedule a baby, and just as many friends who will give you their own "tried and true" schedules. What you won't find is a single other person who has had YOUR baby in YOUR situation. It literally doesn't exist. So, sure - read the books and listen to the advice. But don't become a slave to it. Find what works for your family. At our house, I did all the night feedings and changing and then my husband would sneak in and take the baby early in the morning to let me get a few hours of precious uninterrupted sleep.
We actually still use this schedule because with 5 small kids, someone's bound to get up in the middle of the night. This works for us, but it doesn't work for everyone. My sister's family chose to alternate nights so each of them would have a couple uninterrupted full nights of sleep each week. My other sister alternated feedings with her husband each night. And I know others who chose to sleep train their kids at a very early age. You have to do what works in your home.
All that said, something I have found helpful (as has nearly every parent I know) is white noise. For both you and baby. My babies at were loud sleepers, yawning and sucking and chortling all night long. White noise helped me filter out the actual cries from just underlying sleep noises. Conversely, babies in utero are used to hearing white noise from mom. Breathing, heartbeat, and digestion are all quite noisy from the inside. So to be brought out and expected to sleep in shocking quiet, isn't always easy. Before the advent of blue tooth and wireless magic, we used small fans that we constantly had to replace, but more recently we discovered the awesomeness of SoundBub. It's a (super cute) portable white noise machine that can also connect to your Bluetooth devices to play music. It's a game changer for us, especially when traveling!
More about SoundBub!
- SoundBub can be paired with any Bluetooth enabled device to play the music you already love.
- SoundBub is compatible with WavHello’s VoiceShare app, where loved ones can record voice messages, lullabies, or mix/edit their own creations karaoke style. It’s easy to play this special content through SoundBub. This is perfect for family living far away or even parents who are deployed who want to send messages while they are away!
- The special hide-away handle makes SoundBub perfectly portable. It can hook onto any stroller or car seat, or stand on any flat surface.
- SoundBub comes pre-loaded with two white noise tracks that you can activate with one touch of its “bellybutton”. More white noise tracks and other soothing content can be accessed within the VoiceShare app.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.