First of all, congratulations on your new baby!
I wish you plenty of moments to cuddle and smother him or her with kisses. And as you know when you have older kids, time flies by very very fast.
I'm a mom of four little ones, the eldest is four and the youngest is two (and a half, by the time this post is finished) weeks old, so I've had some practice but those are notes to self as well.
1 Take your time to cuddle and kiss
Newborns are so very, very precious. They also seem to grow on love, they need you close to survive. They need cuddles :)
You have a chance to do this while breastfeeding, but also when you are bottle-feeding, take a moment to really be and (after a few weeks) interact with your baby. They say those little "smiles" are not real smiles, but they do seem to happen when your baby is happy. When feeding, sing songs, tell a story, offer playdough, or get help/Netflix to entertain/watch your other children.
Another way to have close contact is to wear your baby in a sling or baby carrier. This keeps his head nice and close to your heart and you will have your hands free to... help your other kids, do some things around the house or on your computer, e.g. write a blog (guess where my little boy is now).
2 Do not mind the mess, throw your perfectionism out the window
Everything will take two or three times as long with a new baby. Accept it. Enjoy it! It gives you time to interact with Precious and/or your other kiddos. It also gives you plenty, numerous, shiploads of opportunities to practice your preferred parenting style. Ahem. So, take your time, try not to yell (or do so outside and NOT while carrying the baby 'cause it will make him cry), and cuddle some more.
Also, try to encourage your older kids to do more chores independently. Don't mind a little more mess, but do try to train them to clean it up for themselves. Just half an hour ago I taught my almost 3-year-old how to clean up after an "accident". He deemed these hectic newborn days a good time to potty-train and remove his diaper a few times a day. But hey, try not to stress about such blessed circumstances :)
3 Take gifts and accept help
When someone asks what kind of gift you would like, be practical. Also, ask for help if you could use it. It does take a village to raise a child. Two of my gift suggestions would be:
- Dishes of food that you only have to heat up in the oven. When you have some dishes, don't eat them right away but save them for "emergency situations", which will surely happen sooner or later.
- Things you (yourself and your partner, the adults in the house) can use. For example, a few weeks before giving birth to our fourth son, the sheet that covers our bed was ripped (accidentally) by our eldest. So a new one definitely made it to our gift registry, since we are bound to change our sheets a little more often during this period and we need everything that may slightly improve our sleep.
- Things that make YOU happy :) such as nice flowers and chocolate. Giving birth to your sweet baby was hard work so take credit for it!
4 Go to bed as early as possible
As in, right after your kids! This requires some organization of evening and morning routines beforehand, such as a meal planning strategy.... which focuses on minimizing the amount of dishes and pans used. Pizza at least once a week, for example. No, I did not have a meal planning strategy before I had multiple kids.
Our tiny boy now takes his longest sleep of the day after his feeding at 8 pm. I should consider myself so lucky with his timing, and also try to sleep as much as possible within that window... But then we tend to do housework, and watch some TV, or have some adult conversation as a couple. Set priorities, sleep is one of them!
5 Try to implement rhythm and routines
Maybe not as much for your newborn, but for yourself and the other kids (especially toddlers) it's nice to know where you are in your day.
So get really handy at feeding with one hand so you can have meals together at regular times. Furthermore, we try to make the 8 pm feeding a serious bedtime ritual for the newborn, as a signal to him and his brothers that the day has come to an end. Then we act as if it is 8 pm sharp and watch the evening news on demand together, just like I remember my parents doing when I was young(er). Only they were more strict. My sister and I were in bed by 7:55 pm and they watched the news at 8 pm live. They drank coffee, I drink tea (sans caffeine). Nice ritual though.
6 Finally, about playdough
When trying to get the entertaining playdough out of its pots do not use the pinky you will use later on to let your newborn suck on. It will get under your nails, and although it's supposed to be non-poisonous, I reckon one has to be used to solids for ones stomach to enjoy it. This also goes for the poop diapers on your older kids. Wash your hands a little more often. Try to minimize trips to the ER; this newborn phase is better enjoyed at home.
What are your top tips to mentally survive the newborn phase?