It was a hot June day and I had half the fence painted. It was my summer project and I was trying to get it done before the birth of my first son. Labour began and he was born. For the next couple of weeks, I could see out the kitchen window while holding my newborn son, and view my half grey, half white fence. As a type A person that was used to accomplishing a lot in a day, it drove me nuts to see an incomplete project, and I was determined to finish it that summer so it wouldn’t be staring back at me all winter.
Well, my son had another agenda.
He was a bit of a fussy baby and definitely was not content to nap for longer then 20 minutes at a time, nor was he happy to sit in any carrier or baby contraption for more than 5 minutes at a time.
For many new moms, getting things done around the house with a baby that won’t nap or stay in one place, can present a challenge. Especially if mom is used to crossing things off the to-do list and finishing projects once started. It can be a very frustrating and anger provoking time, to only be able to accomplish a shower, on a bad day, and maybe clear the breakfast dishes if it’s a good day. Never mind getting to those out of the ordinary projects that never seem to get done.
Thankfully, there are a few options.
Slings, wraps, and snugglies are great for the newborn, and a high quality backpack with adequate head supports for older babies can be a lifesaver for moms. The carriers that have baby on the back can be great for cooking and kitchen work. If money is tight, buy a good quality second hand carrier, rather than a cheap new one. The high quality ones have padding in the right places and are designed to support mom’s neck and back muscles much better.
Trade one or two mornings a week with another new mom to watch both babies at one house. That way, mom is available for nursing, but can pay bills, do laundry or organize things hands free, all the while knowing her baby is well cared for.
Give up a nap when baby is napping. Don’t do this too often. You need to sleep when baby sleeps, but once in a while, it helps to uplift the spirit, just to have a sense of accomplishment for a completed job.
Send Dad out for a walk to the park, zoo, or baby class with baby. They can develop some great bonding time and you can get things accomplished.
Hire a mother’s helper to come over and play with baby while you work close by in another room. A mothers’ helper is a pre-teen or teenager willing to accept less then babysitting wages for having the experience and security of the parent close by.
If you have the funds, hire out cleaning, laundry and other jobs to agencies and professionals.
Most babies become easier to entertain when they develop their hand to mouth coordination. Sometime around 4 to 6 months, they are happy to hold and taste a variety of toys that will keep them amused. Also, many babies settle into a predictable schedule of their own at this age, where you can count on nap times and playtimes to schedule your tasks.
If your baby is extremely fussy and won’t be entertained by anything other then you, don’t despair. Reframe the situation. Your job this first year is to play with, attend to, and hold baby. You will never have this time ever again with this baby and although sometimes the days are long, the years fly by.
Here is one of my favourite quotes that helped me realize that my most important job right now was to nurture a baby:
“Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ‘til tomorrow, because babies grow up, I’ve learned to my sorrow. So hush-a-bye cobwebs, dust, go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep!” – Author Unknown.
Judy Arnall is mom to three high need babies, two easy going babies and author of “Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery”. www.professionalparenting.ca
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