Whether you’re moving, getting married, starting a business, or even having a baby, big life changes can alter everything you’re used to and your daily routine. It’s been almost three weeks since our daughter came into our lives, and we’re still working on the adjustment from married life to parent life. What I’ve really learned in the last few years, having gone through quite a few changes, is that your routine should be flexible, but finding the core of what’s important daily is what will carry you through each day. As we embark on our new journey of life, and as you might be as well in your own way, I’m sharing the top tips I’ve learned the last few years to help you survive big life changes each and every time.
When our daughter was born, I sat there on our couch holding her, staring at the dirty dishes, listening to the whining dog looking for a walk, and thinking about what I needed to get done before she woke up for her next feeding. I was so overwhelmed with stuff to do that I didn’t even know where to start. When your mind is so full of new, scary, and confusing thoughts from your big life change, it’s important to write things down. After a week of hormonal breakdowns and late night feedings, writing down a list of to-do items made my days feel a bit more normal, helped me to remember what I needed to accomplish, and kept me on task when my daughter went down for her naps. Whether it’s shopping lists, task lists, schedules, or simply reminders, writing down everything will help you to clarify your thoughts and better prioritize your time for higher efficiency.
Some life changes make creating a routine hard, but focus on the big picture and not the play-by-play. As a newborn, our daughter eats on-demand approximately every two to four hours, and time in between can be unpredictable with fussy fits, cluster feedings, long naps, and snuggle time. Add maintaining the home, working, pumping, and laundry into the mix, it becomes easy to lose track of time, but using your to-do lists to build a routine is important. See below as an example of the routine I put together based on my daughter’s sleep schedule. Knowing that these tasks would be completed at approximate times during the day helped me to build a routine and habits that would allow me to be more efficient with my time and maximize the amount I can get done in a day. When she takes long naps, I give myself time to sit down and rest or get big work projects done so that my mind isn’t distracted when she’s awake or feeding.
Around 6:00-8:00 a.m.: wake up with baby, first feeding, diaper and clothes change, first pump session, breakfast.
Baby’s first nap: get ready for the day, clean up anything left from the night before, like making the bed and straightening up living room.
Mid-morning: Second feeding and diaper change. If energetic, tummy time. If sleepy, put down for nap in stroller.
Baby’s second nap: walk dog and go for additional 1 mile walk. Good time to run errands if needed since baby sleeps longer during morning naps.
Around Noon: third feeding and diaper change. Approximately one hour of one-on-one time.
baby’s third nap: Lunch, pump session two, dishes and kitchen cleaning.
Mid-afternoon: fourth and fifth feeding with diaper change. Relax with baby. (More likely to cluster feed during this time)
Baby’s fourth nap: Work if needed or nap. If later than 4:00 p.m., cook dinner and pump session three.
Evening: sixth and seventh feedings with diaper change. (More likely to cluster feed during this time). Lots of one-on-one and tummy time preparing for bed.
Around 8:00 p.m.: Take baby upstairs to bassinet. Light nap. Take a bath and pump session four.
Around 9:30-10:00 p.m.: eighth feeding, diaper change and change clothes. Bedtime.
Overnight: sleep feedings every 2-4 hours. Change diaper after feedings.
Life changes cause us to often be overly exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically, which can lead to us being more lazy and cranky than usual. The first week home from the hospital, I found it hard to get out of anything but sweatpants I already wore for three days straight and even brush my hair, but I realized the sooner I got back to some kind of normal me, the easier this transition in life could be. Now, this doesn’t mean I started doing my hair and makeup every day again or even getting dressed in something less comfy, but rather, I made sure to put fresh clothes on every day, ensure that I am caring for myself as well as her, and make time to keep up with daily tasks that I left to the wayside. Maintaining some normalcy in our day, in addition to the new tasks created by having a newborn, helped me to feel more like my normal self and little less overwhelmed by everything going on. Every morning when I got ready during her first nap, I made sure to brush my teeth, comb my hair and put it up in a nice ponytail, wash my face, and make the bed, which made me start to feel a little more normal and less overwhelmed.
The best thing you can do is make sure you’re cutting yourself a little slack. Big life changes are exhausting and making sure you take time for yourself is important. Treat yourself to a manicure, have a movie night at home, order delivery for dinner, or even take a nap on the couch in the middle of the afternoon. Find what you need to recharge your body and mind to keep you energized and ready for what’s ahead of you. Every afternoon between lunch and dinner, my husband and I find time to lay down and relax while our daughter naps. He often naps while I relax, usually enjoying a little television or a movie, just to rejuvenate my mind and push any thoughts about feedings and work away. This drastically helps me to destress and come back for our evening routine feeling refreshed.