10 New Mum Life Lines That Will Get You Through The Long Nights
Before I had children I had no idea it was possible to destroy an entire house with a cracker.
I didn't realise I had to have a degree in engineering to figure out the complexities of the pram, and I certainly didn't know how my heart would explode with love every time my baby smiled at me.
But I guess that is motherhood in a nutshell - one giant rainbow of emotion that overflows in the most surprising and beautiful of ways.
And then there is the lack of sleep.
I remember feeling a sense of impending doom when night would fall knowing that sleep would come dropping real slow for the foreseeable hours. Luckily, it doesn't last forever and you try to focus on the lovely parts like the velvety cheek against your chest and the warm toes that wiggle when you stroke them.
But to survive the wooly-headedness of those long nights with your little newbie, we have these top tips:
1. Prep your surroundings
Comfy chair, check. Snuggly blanket, check. When you are woken with a start at 3 am for another feed it is nice to know you have everything within arm's reach to make feeding your little one that bit easier.
2. Prep your mind
Your days and nights will be upside down for a few weeks. As long as you know this - you can accept it a little better. Don't fight the new nocturnal you. It is not for long and as long as you try to catch up on sleep during the day you can manage.
3. Fresh Air
It was the last thing I wanted to do when I had been up all night feeding but bundling up and pounding the pavements will actually stand to you during these gruelling few weeks. A little fresh air and a lot of coffee will help you get through those nights when you feel like you will never get sweet, sweet sleep ever again.
4. Reward yourself
Ok, so you grew a human and now you are trying to keep them alive and you are 100 per cent sleep deprived - it is like some kind of medieval challenge. Besides the coffee, do try to take pleasures in all the little things throughout the day to keep you positive and to counteract the teary weariness that comes with lack of sleep. A dinner you really fancy, stick on that box set you have been dying to see and buy that magazine.
5. Don't be Superwoman
Ok, you are officially a superhero but don't overdo it with your little sidekick because you will think you are fine and then BAM - before you know it you are a weepy puddle of exhaustion and it can happen fast. So try not to attend every coffee morning or run every errand. Pace yourself a little, spread out the workload or you could end up feeling frustrated with yourself.
6. Indulge Yourself
If you love to scroll through social media or enjoy bingeing on celeb exploits, don't feel guilty while you are up in the middle of the night. I rediscovered reading and managed to maintain this joy of mine throughout the children growing up. Of course, you are still very focused on the job at hand with little Cutie Mc Wet-Nappy but life is all about balance.
7. Soak it all up
Once you get over the fear you will break them or that they will stop breathing if you look away, you will start to cherish those quiet moments in the night when the world is asleep. You will whisper to yourself that you will never forget these shared moments but you will (a little) so drink up every second of it because before you know it they will be running around rubbing marmalade into your hair.
8. Free your mind
These days it is increasingly hard to keep our minds clear. It is a noisy old world and the digital era means it is more difficult than ever to be mindful and to live in the now. Once you manage to settle baby and you are in full feed mode - it is a great chance to really focus on the moment at hand. Enjoy the stillness of the night. I do my best thinking during the night and always manage to sort through anything that is on my mind.
If you are lucky enough to have friends who are in a similar position to you they will be an invaluable support to you at this time. Just make sure you don't start comparing yourself to them and wondering why your baby doesn't sleep as well as theirs. They will help you laugh (and cry) your way through this time.
Most of all, I took great strength from my partner through the early days of having a newborn. The extra set of hands, the sympathetic cups of tea and the sharing of some of the feeds made me realise how much we were a team. Of course, not everyone's partner is so hands on, some people do it alone, but as long as you feel supported in some way, a sister, a mum, a friend or a husband - you realise that it really does take a village to raise a child.
It is a short but precious time in your life where the nights will seem long but do remember the years are short and although you might not always feel it, you are making some of the most precious memories of your life.