'Sleep when he/she sleeps,' was the refrain I heard over and over again – usually when some stranger was touching my protruding belly (without my permission, obviously) and dishing out what they deemed to be invaluable 'new baby’ advice. Most parents, and even those without any offspring of their own, have heard that sleep deprivation is one of the hardest aspects of parenthood. Sleep deprivation is so severe that the very idea of it has been known to delay the procreation of young professionals many times the world over.
Now, although the advice 'sleep when he/she sleeps' seems pretty logical, I can tell you from personal experience that it’s easier said than done. When I finally get my gorgeous bundle down for her nap, I need to sterilise bottles, catch up on overdue work, do the laundry and use a lovingly scented fabric conditioner, prepare dinner and, often, attend to her older brother and sister!
As lovely as it would be to simply plop down onto my bed and snooze away until I hear her tell-tale 'I’m awake’ fussing, it is not always possible. So how can new moms beat the fatigue when it’s not always as simple as sleeping when baby is sleeping? Here are some of my tips - may they help you with those pesky under-eye bags as they did me...
- Arrange a sleep schedule with hubby. He watches her for an hour while you nap, and then you do the same for him. This mostly works on weekends when one or both spouses aren’t at work, but it can be done during the night too. This 'sleep schedule’ is also popularly known as the 'ok, you change this nappy and I’ll do the next one.
- Divide up chores and tasks. Part of the new mommy fatigue isn’t just related to the interrupted sleep due to crying, feeding and nappy changing. It also includes all of the regular house chores and life responsibilities dumped on top. This is why it is super helpful to purchase a large block calendar for your kitchen. Write every single thing that needs to be done in your home such as 'peel potatoes, take out rubbish, buy birthday present for Ouma’ and so on. Be detailed – put the exact time of the appointments on the tasks. Now you and your significant other can sit together and decide who does what. By being detailed and organised, with tasks assigned to people and a clear understanding of what is happening when and by whom, you may just feel a little less overwhelmed and exhausted.
- When you rest, do it properly. This means using your glam silk eye mask when you lay down for a nap. Put in some ear plugs, darken the room. Sleep as deeply as you can, whenever you can. Have a warm bath instead of a shower. Add in a few drops of your favourite essential oil, light some candles and indulge in some 'me-time;’ even if it’s only for ten minutes.
- Eat and drink well. An unhealthy body is a tired body, which is why it is crucial that you drink at least two litres of water a day and eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Being healthy will help your body to produce more sustainable energy throughout the day.
- Get help. Of course you’re a superwoman! All women are, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t also need some help from time to time. Allow your family members to babysit so that you can grab a bite to eat with your partner, or simply take a really long, nourishing nap.
Having a new baby is an exciting, emotional and wonderful time, and it can be tough too. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be by burning yourself out and battling fatigue as well as your wayward emotions. Here’s to happy snoozing and helpful hubbies!