Having a new baby can be overwhelming for even the most organized woman. A few tips:
• Keep it simple and keep it realistic! Although there are supermoms who seem to have it all together immediately upon leaving the hospital with their new bundle of joy, the reality is it takes some organization, some realistic goals and some help to manage your time.
• For the first few weeks, remember your body is healing. Try to limit visitors' time in visiting you and number of visitors. If they ask what they can bring, tell them to bring lunch (a small rotisserie chicken, a bagged salad and a baguette from the grocery store can be a real treat!) If family members offer to help, let them come and hold your colicky baby one afternoon while you try and take a quick nap. Let Daddy feed, bathe or put the baby to sleep for the evening - it helps him bond and gives Mom a break. In other words, let people help you - it doesn't mean you can't do it by yourself and people like to feel as if they're truly helping.
• Once you're a few weeks out from the delivery and you're ready to venture out more often, try to get and stay organized:
o When putting clean laundry away, put a clean outfit or two right into the diaper bag. Make sure there's a good supply of diapers, wipes and pacifiers.
o If you're going back to work, try to get ready the night before by laying out clothes for you and the baby (and siblings if this isn't your first!) pack your lunch the night before and keep it in the fridge till morning, throw anything related to errands in the car (dry cleaning, grocery list.)
o Make and keep two essentials: a calendar and a "To Do" list. On the calendar, plug in all appointments, work meetings, social functions so that you'll be able to plan your day, week and month. In keeping this calendar, though, remember flexibility is key - if neither you nor the baby slept the entire night, you may need to reorganize your day. Concentration on tasks may suffer from lack of sleep and being focused on your new baby, a “to do” list helps keep things top of mind.
• Other tips that may help:
o Keep things where they belong (keys by the door, coat hung up, purse and diaper bag in the same place)
o When scheduling things on the calendar, schedule time for yourself (even if it is only 30 minutes a couple times a week) to do something just for you (read a book, take a bath, get a pedicure). When you're comfortable leaving the baby for an hour or so with a trusted family member or sitter, schedule a date night with your partner - it's important to stay connected and communicating. Even if you just take a walk together for 30 - 60 minutes, the time spent alone together is very important.
o When cooking, try to keep to healthy things as much as possible: buy pre-cut veggies, when cooking a meal, double the recipe and freeze half so that you'll have a meal already made to pull out on a busy day.
Thanks to Maryanne for some important and practical advice. As the mom of three kids, I remember those days fondly, even though it was difficult at the time. Enjoy!