My Four Rs: Relax, Routine, Rest, Room.
Newborns. I had four babies in four years. I loved the newborn phase, once I figured it out that is. And that’s what this story is about: figuring it out, without going nuts.
Fact: All the new parent clichés are true and despite the fact that babies are born every minute of every day – it remains a unique experience every single time. Nothing can really prepare us for the moment when we are told that we can take our “new” baby home.
I was overwhelmed. I mean, I’d done the research, read the books and I knew how to put my son’s clothes on and get a diaper changed. But other things like bathing such a small being and breastfeeding were more than daunting – never mind making a sandwich for myself with a crying newborn in one arm.
No one really told me how to handle these first weeks. I had been so focused on the “pain” of giving birth, breathing techniques, etc. that I forgot to think about what to do with my baby once he came home with us.
Since then, I’ve learned a thing or two that I’d like to share.
My Four Rs: Relax, Routine, Rest, Room.
Fact: A baby (and kids for that matter) senses our stress. So staying calm and relaxed no matter what the situation is makes all the difference. This is why my husband took over when my son was crying. He was relaxed, I wasn’t, I was totally stressed out about not being able to make it better. Now, I’ve discovered that, staying relaxed (though not always my strongest quality) keeps everyone in check. When I am relaxed, there is less fighting between the kids, more laughter. My mother once said to me: Don’t sweat the small stuff and most of the stuff is small. Easier said than done, but being aware of it is a great start.
Fact: Babies need routine. Before my son started daycare we didn’t have much of a routine. At his daycare he slept at certain times of the day (in a bed!), ate well and was content. I realized that the routines and structure that they established were really important and that babies understand the signals we give them. Routine doesn’t mean that something has to happen at a particular time of day, more that you keep a rhythm to your patterns. For example: Baby wakes up, has his diaper changed, drinks, tummy time, sleeps. Repeat. I have continued using routine as the kids grow older. We have bedtime routines, morning routines, and dinner routines. It works. The kids know what to expect and when. It doesn’t mean that there are never exceptions – that’s what keeps it fun, but the daily routines create calmness.
Fact: Newborns, babies and kids all need to sleep – a lot. It is vital that their bodies can rest and grow and their brain can continue to develop. If your baby is eating well and alert when she is awake, then she can’t really get too much sleep. If my baby ended up having a four-hour lunchtime nap, it was because he needed it. I would then continue the bedtime routine as normal, even if there was only an hour or two in-between, and you know what, he slept, often better than ever.
Fact: It’s hard to make room for ourselves. By room I mean space for myself; room for Me. Of course, I knew this in theory but only really learned to do it a little late in the parenting game. It’s hard to give ourselves room. It often feels wrong and selfish. But it’s not. It’s called caring for oneself. We care for our kids, our partners, and our friends but we often forget ’Me’. When I manage to let go of the guilt and allow myself some time, I am, for sure, a better mother.
My youngest has just turned four and I am now entering a new phase. I continue to use my four Rs every day. I am far (far) from a perfect mom but these help me to get a little bit closer…
Lianne is a Canadian mother of four, entrepreneur and author of Lianne’s Quick Guide – for the busy woman. Her first title is called “Babies 0-6 Months” and can be purchased directly from her website: www.liannesquickguide.com. She lives & works just outside of Amsterdam and can usually be found biking around on her bicycle built for six.