Having a newborn is time-consuming, but it’s still possible – and necessary – for new parents to find some time to relax. It can take a little practice before you find out what works best for you, but in the long run, getting some regular downtime will improve your health and make parenting easier for you. Here are some tips for unwinding with a new baby in the house.
Keep getting regular exercise
There’s a reason why exercise is always the number one tip for relieving stress. Physical activity causes your body to release chemicals that decrease pain and stress, and improve your mood. These days, you might not be able to find the time for a normal-length workout, and that’s okay. Focus on getting in small and gentle periods of exercise, or walking a few times throughout your day. Did you know there are yoga classes for new moms and their babies? You could find a couple videos online, meaning that you could work up a sweat and spend some time with Baby without ever having to leave the house.
Find time for a hot shower
Nothing relieves tension like a steaming hot shower, but it can get a little complicated when there’s a baby in the house. Fortunately, there are ways to work around your newborn’s needs. Some parents solve this problem by showering while the baby is asleep; others bring the whole bassinet into the bathroom so that the baby is within earshot the whole time.
Sleep when baby sleeps
It’s tempting to do anything but sleep while your newborn gets some rest, but this is an opportune time for you to catch up on some shut-eye. Nothing on your mental to-do list, from cleaning to organizing to calling that friend back, is more important than you getting some much-needed sleep.
Easier said than done? Of course. But caring for a newborn is a marathon, not a sprint, and your body will operate much more efficiently when you’ve been getting the vitamins, minerals, and water that you need. Think about it this way: your baby is eating incredibly healthily right now, so all you need to do is keep up with him.
Ask for help
It’s easy and normal to worry about inconveniencing people when you think about asking for help. But it can’t hurt to ask, and the odds are pretty good that friends and family will be happy to pitch in, if they are able. Whether you need help with household chores or you’d just like someone to watch Baby while you take a nap, think about what you need and work up however much courage you need to see if someone you like and trust can help out while you do any or all of the above!
Don’t neglect your spiritual side, if you have one
If you’re religious or identify as part of a faith-based organization, you might find that having a newborn requires you to miss out on activities in your community. This can be isolating, especially if your community was a big part of your life before Baby arrived. Just like you need to exercise your body, you might feel that you need to find ways to strengthen your faith, or at least pay attention to it once in awhile. If this applies to you, set some regular time aside to read, pray, meditate, or do whatever comforts you and tunes you into your faith. This could include inviting members of your particular community to your house, so that you can pray or sing or simply catch up – whatever applies to your situation.
If you do find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If there’s something in particular that you’re worried about, consider taking a class or workshop to prepare you for the next few years with your baby. Having a better idea of what to do in stressful situations can take a lot of the tension out of your day-to-day life. All new parents feel a range of emotions during their baby’s first year, so it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, confused, happy, and sad all at once, just like most other parents of newborns. With all of those emotions running high, it’s especially important to carve out some time to unwind.
- Harvard Men’s Health Watch. “Exercising to relax.” HarvardHealth. Harvard University, Feb 2011. Web.
- Mayo Clinic. “New dad: Tips to manage stress.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mar 26 2015. Web.