5 Ways to Keep Your Sanity with a Newborn

Guest post from Kelly of Exceptionally Average

I’ve enjoyed reading many of the posts bloggers have been sharing about rising early during this month’s Early to Rise challenge, and I have read most of them at quite an early hour. However, I have been going back to bed as soon as possible afterward.

Why?

Not because I’m lazy, but because I have a new baby. I’ve traveled this road through Newborn Land once before, so this time I haven’t struggled as much about wishing I had my life more together, because I know that season will return again soon enough.

However, just knowing and believing doesn’t always ward off the negative feelings that appear when sleep deprivation and spit up replace routine and order.

I was inspired to come up with my own manifesto for all of us moms of babies after reading Crystal’s and Ann’s. I hope you find encouragement in it if you find yourself up at 12:30, 2:00, 4:00, and/or 6:00 in the morning with your little bundle.

1. Embrace grace.

You must do this. It’s sometimes easy to think you are the one who has it together when you’re living life without a baby.

Now that baby is here, acknowledge that she is God’s way of reminding you it’s only through Him that you can accomplish anything, let alone great things.

Meanwhile, don’t get embarrassed when you’re forgetful and unable to to keep up with the fast-paced world outside. Instead, thank God for the respite He’s giving you.

2. Hold that baby.

Soak up the beautiful simplicity of these days — savor the new baby smells, memorize the feeling of the cuddles, study the eyes taking in the world for the first time, and smile at a face that adores you and depends on you like no one else in the world does at this moment.

Soon enough, that baby will be crawling, toddling, and then running around when you’d rather take a few minutes to snuggle.

3. Spend five minutes filling your soul.

Maybe it’s just one minute some days with a solitary verse in the Bible, but do it.

This isn’t the time to study profound books on theology, but it’s a perfect time to admit your need for God’s strength…especially on those days following the nights where you only get an hour or two of sleep.

On those days, I seem to read my solitary verse a dozen times just so my brain can make sense of it. Doesn’t that count as meditating on it? :)

4. Set one attainable goal a day.

For the first week or so, my goal was to survive and feed the baby. Now that my little one has a couple of months on her, I can choose things like complete a load of laundry, including putting the clothes away.

I’m making it a point to take this time in my life to dream and plan. It’s crucial for my sanity to be slow in adding responsibilities back into my routine. The extra time to think ahead has made me want to get busy too quickly sometimes, and the needs of my kids bring me back to reality when I start getting ahead of myself.

5. Don’t get discouraged.

When you start to feel discouraged, remember that you are rising early, sometimes multiple times.

Give yourself a break and be sure to implement rest into your day. If you find yourself getting out of bed at 10 a.m. and dreaming of an afternoon nap, don’t sweat it. The time for routines and online challenges will come again, meanwhile enjoy this time holding your baby.

Related: How can I be organized when I have a toddler and a baby?

What advice do the rest of you have for moms of newborns or women who are in particularly busy and exhausting seasons of life?

Kelly is a stay-at-home mom who is passionate about encouraging others to join her in embracing confidence in the average, day-to-day ministry of motherhood, marriage, and friendship. She blogs at Exceptionally Average.

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Other posts in the Early to Rise Challenge series

  1. The 30-Day Early to Rise Challenge Begins on Friday (grab your ebook for just $4.99!)
  2. Early to Rise Challenge: Day 1 (Your Mindset Matters)
  3. Early to Rise Challenge: Wake Up With a Plan for Your Day
  4. Early to Rise Challenge: It's Not Always Easy (and am I the only one who thinks drinking coffee black is crazy??)
  5. 15 Things You Can Do Each Morning to Make Your Day More Successful
  6. Early to Rise Challenge: Adjust Your Attitude
  7. 11 Things to Do Tonight to Set You Up for Success Tomorrow
  8. Early to Rise Challenge: Change Your Life By Taking One Small Step at a Time
  9. Early to Rise Challenge: Find the Artist in You
  10. Early to Rise Challenge: "It's Your World, So Change It"
  11. Early to Rise Challenge: Swim Upstream
  12. Early to Rise Challenge: Focus on Other People
  13. 5 Steps to Start Your Day With a Better Attitude
  14. Early to Rise Challenge: Find What Motivates You
  15. Early to Rise Challenge: The Halfway Mark!
  16. Early to Rise Challenge: Choose Who You Will Be Today
  17. Free printable: 17 Ways to Set Your Morning Up for Success
  18. Early to Rise Challenge: Don't Live Today on Accident
  19. Early to Rise Challenge: Be Quiet
  20. Early to Rise Challenge: Face Your Day With a Smile
  21. Early to Rise Challenge: Find an Accountability Partner
  22. Early to Rise: Share Your Success (and why I have a new crazy-early wake-up time!)
  23. 11 Things You Can Do Tonight to Set You Up for Success Tomorrow (free printable)
  24. Early to Rise Challenge: You're Not Alone
  25. 5 Ways to Keep Your Sanity with a Newborn
  26. Early to Rise Challenge: Begin Your Day With Prayer
  27. Early to Rise Challenge: Don't Settle for Average!

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Comments

  1. Krafty Momma says

    Way to go! My first kid is 7 months, and I’m not participating in the early to rise challenge because I’m working on staying sane. :)

  2. says

    Great reminders. That first year after having a baby can be so very exhausting. I always tell new moms that for the first year, they should have 3 goals…
    1. keep your family fed
    2. keep your family clothed
    3. keep your house clean enough to not be condemned
    …anything else is a bonus.

    Enjoy your little one!

    • Laura says

      I love that statement. I have been struggling with your #3 goal lately. My husband has to remind me that we have 2 kids, a toddler and a newborn. I just feel embarrassed when people come over and the house is a mess. Everyone is fed and has clean clothes and the house is somewhat clean so I guess I should be happy.

      • says

        I can relate. While I may get that one load of laundry done, the rest of the house probably looks like a toy bomb went off and the dishes enjoy greeting me from their new home in the sink. You aren’t alone in having a messy house. Caring for small children is all-consuming, and no one can look down on you for accomplishing that major job every day. Keep up the good work!

    • Christy says

      Hi Angi! I like bumping into you here :) That’s great advice. Thanks for simplifying it!

  3. Carrie says

    I had 5 boys and it was actually easier for me with #5 than #1. I really wanted to savor every moment with my last baby because I knew he was the last. I remember just sitting in the rocker enjoying the time.

    My mantra was “good enough is good enough.”

  4. says

    Excellent advice, Kelly!

    One specific note I have to add to Tip #3 on Filling Your Soul:
    After my 2nd baby was born, I found such help in studying through the little booklet entitled Gospel Meditations for Women {written by Chris Anderson & Joe Tyrpak}. It’s 31 days of brief, but meaty devotionals especially geared towards women. I’ve found that in the season of life right after having children I sometimes need to be “spoon-fed” spiritually because my body and mind are so exhausted from everything else!

    Hope that’s helpful to someone else like it has been to me!

    • says

      Thanks for the recommendation, Christa! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed “Jesus Calling” by Sara Young to give me some scripture and encouraging words these past couple of months. I’ll have to check out this devotional next.

  5. RachaelP says

    Great post! While I’m not due until June, I’ve struggled a lot with insomnia with this pregnancy. When the challenge started, I was going to try to get up 30 min. before my kids get up but I decided to let that go and not put too much pressure on myself and get done what I can get done. So much happier this way! :)

  6. says

    Thanks for the reminder! My oldest is 3 1/2 years old, my second is 2 years old, and my third is 8 weeks old. So I too have been following the Early to Rise Challenge without participating.

    I’ve been doing the things you suggested…reading while nursing (if the older two are asleep), setting one goal each day, holding the baby, embracing grace and avoiding discouragement. I try to get dressed nicely (thanks to Frumps to Pumps) at some point, even if it’s not until afternoon. I also gave up Facebook for Lent, and I haven’t blogged much since December. I’m enjoying the time to re-focus on my kids and my relationship with God. My world is smaller right now, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. :)

    • says

      lol. Funny you mention not participating in the Early to Rise Challenge. I don’t have kids, so I felt guilty for sleeping until 9 AM. Until I remembered… I work until 2 AM! It feels weird hearing everyone say, “Oh, I got up at 4 AM!” I felt like I was missing out or something. Until I realized if I did that, I’d only be getting 2 hours of sleep!

      Sometimes, it gets lonely working night shift. But I guess when you have kids, you work EVERY shift! Guess I’ll find out in 4 months! ;)

  7. Britney says

    One thing that I am learning to do (but still struggle with) is to ask for help. My girls are almost 4, 2.5, and 7 months so life is a bit crazy and I feel like I’m needed 24/7 most days. When I start feeling overwhelmed, I have to remind myself it’s okay to ask for help – either from my husband (who is always willing, but not a mind reader…so I do need to ask!) or my mom mostly.

    I also try to remember to keep expectations realistic. Example: I have taken all three girls to story time at the library for the last two weeks (first time since #3 was born). I have been intimidated to do this because I keep thinking, “What if baby gets fussy? What if toddler throws a fit? What if….??” But finally I just told myself, “So what?! What is the worst that will happen?” If the baby cries, she cries. If the toddler throws a fit, stay calm and if necessary, leave. But don’t be afraid to try doing something fun for fear that it might be a trainwreck. :)

    • says

      Thanks for sharing! “Don’t be afraid to try doing something fun for fear that it might be a trainwreck.” I needed that encouragement. Mine are 3 1/2, 2, and 8 weeks. I often avoid activities that intimidate me, but once I try them I wish I’d done so sooner! :)

      • Britney says

        I am thoroughly exhausted when I get home after one of those outings, but it’s good for everyone’s spirits! Three little ones is a lot of work, isn’t it? But triple the sweet moments too.

    • Whitney says

      My best advice for your first? Take any and all expectations of getting anything done and throw them out the window. If you expect to get nothing done, actually accomplishing one task a day will feel like a tremendous victory. My first never napped. Ever. Which meant I rarely showered, let alone got to run on the treadmill, clean, or cook, as I’d always expected I would get to do during his naps. I’d manage to drag myself to the store (with no makeup and yoga pants), but felt like a failure next to all the moms who looked so put together. At least I was prepared for this when I had my second – who turned out to be a perfect baby who slept all the time and never cried. Suddenly I understood how some people got things done with an infant, and I also vowed to never judge a sloppy looking mom at the store ever again!

      Second piece of advice? Don’t compare what you get done to anyone else. All babies are unique in their needs, and I feel like an expert in this area after having two that were so vastly different. My third was in between, and though I’m really hoping #4 is like #2, I’m trying to prepare myself for another #1.

      • says

        Thanks for the advice. I’m really hoping little one is cooperative, because I’m not going to be able to afford to stay home. Hubby and I are going to have to split our days, with me working mornings and him working nights so someone’s always home to watch him. We’re going to need all the rest we can get. At least hubby will always have his Cuban shots to keep him awake.

        • Kelly says

          Just a word of encouragement from a FT, 1st shift working mom whose husband also works an opposite shift (3rd). We have a 3-year-old and 1-year-old and have been working in this arrangement since daughter #1 was 3 months:
          1) Lots of coffee or energy drinks for daddy.
          2) Try not to let the massive amount of mess bother you when you get home – daddy’s love is much better than sending them to daycare and the dishes will always be there.
          3) Try not to be frustrated with the snippets of time you will actually have to get things done. I have found I am a much better mom and employee if I go to bed after the kids instead of trying to stay up until midnight cleaning.
          4) Encourage daddy to nap after he gets home from work if you can, even if it’s just half an hour, before you leave for work.
          5) Working opposite shifts can be difficult on your marriage. Set a monthly date night if you can so you can actually get to talk!
          6) Give both yourself and husband lots of grace. You may be grumpy, tired and the like, but this is a season, not a forever, in life!

          • says

            Thanks for the encouragement. I’m not worried about the cleaning so much. A 1 bedroom apartment can only get so messy. But I do worry about the strain on our marriage. For nearly 2 years, we’ve worked the same shift at the same location. It’s a huge change when you go from being together 24 hours a day to being apart 18 hours a day. We’d only ever see each other on the weekends. Since we only have 1 car, I’d have to carpool with a coworker and hubby’s shift would be starting just as mine was ending. So he’s bring Baby in the car with him, and he’d hand him off to me in the parking lot to take home. The only time we’d ever be together is when we’re sleeping. I’d be working 7AM-3:30. He’d be working 4PM-1AM. That’s 6 hours of us being together. Almost all of them during our sleep time. It’s a major difference.

            We’re going to do it this way until I can afford to stay home, which will probably take about a year to save up for the down payment on a townhome with a lower mortgage payment than our current rent… almost $1,000 a month for our tiny 1 bedroom. if I could stay home, or even work part time, it would make a huge difference.

            And yes. Hubby can have all the coffee he wants. I didn’t get him a Keurig for Christmas for nothing! :)

  8. Robin says

    Thanks for this post. I have a three year old and a newborn. I slept till 10am today, yoga pants IS considered dressing up because it means I changed out of pajamas, and I’ve done two loads of laundry. I feel victorious this morning! Thanks for the reminder to give myself grace.

    • says

      “Dressing Up” for me means a shower and getting out of my pajamas and robe, even if I’m only wearing jeans and a comfy shirt. I have a newborn too, so I’ve been sleeping until 10am most mornings too. Lucky for me my husband works from home, so he’s been taking on our two toddlers for the first couple hours every morning. Keep up the good work!

  9. says

    My most important things for me were 1) accept any help offered, 2) pray to God often when you need extra strength, perserverance, or patience, and 3) know this time will come to end at some point and when you look back it will not seem so bad.

    If you think you are suffering any type of post partum depression symptoms reach out to someone to talk about how you are feeling quickly. Don’t keep them inside. When I had #3 (a girl after 2 boys) you would think I would have been overjoyed! I was hit hard with PPD and my Mom was a lifesaver as she talked me through A LOT of tears. Now my daughter (almost 9 months) is the absolute joy of my life and I cannot imagine my days without her.

  10. Sarah says

    Thank you for #5…that first sentence felt like it was God speaking to me directly. I’ve been SO discouraged trying to reach my goal to rise early (for years and years!). In the last 3 years of raising 2 littles, I felt like I was getting so close, then one (then BOTH…then we ALL) would get sick and my 6am devotion time was done before it began. The long interrupted, nights felt like 3 steps backward. Reading that line was all I needed for a hug from God reassuring me that He was pleased…I AM reaching my goal because I DO rise early…I’m devoted to getting my devotion in wherever it fits in the day…and that’s really what matters in this season. Thanks again!

    • says

      I also struggle with consistency in an early morning devotional time, for many of the same reasons. I’m doing what you’re doing—getting it in wherever it fits in the day. For the past 6 months or so, that means I’m usually doing it during afternoon naps. But sometimes I do it after putting the kids to bed, right before I go to bed, or in the morning…just as long as it gets done! I’m glad to hear I’m not alone! :)

  11. Sarah says

    This is awesome! My 2nd isn’t due for another 5 weeks (1st is 3 years) and as much as I would LOVE to be up early to clean, organize, read, pray, cook “real” breakfasts, etc. it just ain’t happening right now. Being up multiple times a night to go to the bathroom/switch sleeping positions/help a toddler go potty is plenty for me right now. I miss having the me-time and productive time and what not, but you know, I’ll get to that point again later in life. Right now, I’m enjoying the sleep I do get. (Plus all the baby weight and feet swelling makes getting out of bed even MORE painful. lol!)

  12. Catrina says

    Thanks so much for this post. i have a 3 year old and a 4 month old. been trying so hard to get into a routine and getting quiet time. This helps me to focus on just enjoying my kids and getting what time i can with God.

  13. Catherine says

    Thank you! My fourth is almost 4 weeks old and I have a 5, 4, and 19 month old. I read this with tears. I’m so blessed, but so tired, and no rest for the weary! The comments were just as encouraging as the article. Thank you again!

  14. Rachel says

    I cannot thank you enough for posting this. I’m the mother of a precious little boy, but these last few months since his birth have been pretty hard. There are days that are great and days when I just feel like I’m drowning under the weight of it all. Trying to keep up with everything, trying to figure out my identity again, and trying to be the best wife and mom I can be. It’s hard. Sometime you just need a godly reminder that it’s all going to be ok and that it’s ok even now. I’m wiping away tears from my eyes, but they are relieved tears and tears of encouragement. Thank you so much!

  15. Megan says

    I cannot tell you how much I needed this today! My second daughter is 2.5 weeks, and I have been so frustrated today to the point of tears over not being able to get her to settle down for a nap all day and also feeling like I am a horrible mother to my 2.5 year old because all I can do is hold the baby all day and not play with her as much as I’d like to. Talk about feeling like I’m failing at everything! I tend to be a “planner” and the lack of consistency during the early months is very hard on me…I know it’s my expectations of myself that are the problem more than anything…thanks for the encouragement as well as the challenge to treasure the moments!

    • says

      Megan, my children are much older (except the almost 4yo) but I remember those days of having a 2 yr old and a newborn. I actually spent a lot of time on the couch reading to the 2 year old while I nursed or held the baby. I bet I read to him 2-3 hours a day(not all at one time) …one picture book after another. I also wore my babies in a sling ( I really like the Maya Wrap) and that allowed me to have my baby close to me and yet have my hands free to take care of the older ones. It was really nice.

  16. Sarah says

    Thanks so much for this! It was just what I needed to hear with my 1st turning 3 next month and #2 coming in about 2 months. I have been in a bit of a panic wondering how I will be able to handle it all…all the while forgetting that I am not Superwoman. And no one expects me to be (except me, apparently).

  17. says

    I have a 4 year old and a 10 month old, and while my 10-month old isn’t technically a newborn, he’s still up a few times a night. Plus, he was born with a disability, and has had surgery and over 50 doctor’s and therapy appointments in the last 6 months alone. I’m also trying to homeschool my 4 year old, so I’m exhausted all the time. I know what it’s like to come to the end of yourself and be forced to simplify your life and your priorities. But, I think this simplicity also makes life a little more peaceful :)

    Here’s what I’ve done to cultivate contentment during this difficult season of life:

    1. Stay off Facebook and Pinterest as much as possible…even if you don’t think it affects you, it’s easy to start comparing your life/situation/challenges to someone else and you’ll probably come away thinking you’re not doing enough. I felt like a mommy failure the other day when I thought of some of the moms I know who seem to do it all and make it all from scratch. But they don’t have my circumstances, and I don’t know theirs. We need to do the best we can with what we have, and avoid the self-imposed guilt trips.

    2. Let Some Things Go…It’s just a season, and right now simple is better. I plan simple meals. Often from the freezer or in the crock pot. My daily to-do list is typically along the lines of “unload dishwasher, reload dishwasher, make breakfast, make lunch, make dinner”. I spend some time refreshing my Spirit in the Word or praying, even if that means locking myself in the bathroom for 5 minutes when Daddy gets home.

    3. Give Yourself Grace…No matter how busy or exhausted you are right now, it won’t last forever. You’ll be fine. Someday my kids will get a hot breakfast every morning…But right now they’re fed, happy, and safe. Aside from that, you don’t have to do it all!

    4. Enjoy the moment…you’ll look back and wish you had enjoyed these days a little more, so find something that makes you happy in every day :)

  18. Erin Rose says

    Just wanted to thank you for this post. As I read it, I was feeding my 7 week old and my 12 month old was tugging at my leg and discovered the secret stash of computer paper. Within a 3 month time span my husband and I took in 2 babies as our foster-t0-adopt kids. Life flipped upside down. When we received our newborn, I wasn’t able to take time off of work (couldn’t afford it) so I worked almost fulltime with a newborn at home. Life has been…. chaotic. I sometimes get down on myself, wondering why I can’t keep up with everything around the home or keep up with the good diaper deals etc. I needed to remind myself of what is the most important right now – these precious lives that need extra love and care. Thanks for the refreshing reminder.

  19. katie t says

    Thank you thank you and thank you for this post! its a great reminder and good to know that there are other women out there struggling to keep their selves sane with either their first child or seventh child. my daughter is almost 14 months and i still struggle to get a whole nights sleep..your whole live changes once you have a baby and unless you have one you dont realize it til you experience it first hand. theres so much crazyness being a stay at home mom and yes…i have those days where my hair seems to be sticking out, i forget words, go to put the trash can in the fridge (lack of sleep and nutrition, and forgetfulness with do that) and then remember that i wouldnt change being home with her for the world. i prayed to have her, and got her, and i got everything else with her too..shes my world and on the toughest nights when i finally get her to bed {shes teething horribly right now so extra crabby at bedtime}…and i walk across the street to find solice and comfort in my parents house {my hubby is home with her}…i find myself talking about her and how funny she was today..or something funny she did…motherhood, the best job ever!

  20. Joanna says

    I’ve got my new two-day-old baby asleep in my arms as I’m reading and typing tonight. Thank you for including this post in your Early to Rise series! This is baby #4, so it’s been easier for me to remember that the next few weeks/months will be difficult, but will get better.

    Crystal, your blog has really helped me to use my time more carefully, to set goals, to plan, to be productive. But it’s so important for me to remember that right now most of my time is just spent being mom. Some days when I feel like all I’ve done is clean up poop, my heart starts to pray, “I know you’ve put me on this earth to fulfill a purpose and a mission. Is this really what I’m supposed to be spending my life doing?” And the answer is, “Yes. Right now, it is.” Days with lots of cross-out lines on the to-do list are great. But the days where everything has fallen apart are okay, too, because right now I’m home with my kids, where I need to be.

  21. says

    Love the first one Kelly! Most parents thing “supermom” means they jump back into regular life. Which is a set up for tears and frustration. For me, we just assume the first 3 months are a time of non-activity. (and the more kids we have, the more important this is.)

    Giving yourself grace, by reminding yourself this is a SEASON of life, and it’s okay to hole up and focus inwardly on your little family for a while, is vital in keeping the family happily functioning. Great post!