When you’re a stay at home parent, whether it is for a few weeks or months after your baby is born or for a longer period, it is important to get out of the house.
It is even more important when you have a high need baby but then it is also much harder to do and sometimes even impossible.
After Livi was born, my husband was able to take a leave for two weeks and work the third week from home. Then I was on my own.
Trying to get out of the house with my husband’s help was a huge undertaking. Doing it on my own, was almost impossible for the first three months.
When Livi was a baby and would cry all the time, I got a lot of advice, both solicited and not, on how to calm and soothe her. I would also search online for anything that might do the trick and give us a break.
As a result, we tried a lot of different techniques, gadgets, and baby equipment. Some of it didn’t work; some made a (slight) difference. But we also found a few ways that really worked for us. I will cover both, the hits and the misses. High need babies are so unpredictable; what didn’t work for us, may just be what you are looking for.
When you are a new parent, people will tell you not to start any bad habits with your child. Do not nurse or rock or walk her to sleep. Do not hold him too much. Do not pick her up every time she cries. And on and on and on.
But when you have a high need baby and it is midnight and your child has been crying since six in the evening, you are ready to do whatever it takes to get your child to sleep.
A recent post by Sleeping Mom @ Sleeping Should Be Easy, reminded me of something I came to realize when Livi was only a few months old: our “normal” is different.
In her post, Sleeping Mom urges us not to compare our children and their skills too much as every child has his own personality and develops at her own rate.
But when Livi would cry all the time and not sleep and only wanted to be held, I could not help but compare her to other babies. In my sleep deprived state, I could not understand why other babies slept through the night, enjoyed playing on the floor and happily lounged in their swing while Livi did not.
We all know days like these, when things keep piling up and worry seems to overtake us. One thing after another goes wrong and pretty soon we hit a wall.
The last few days, really weeks, have been like this for me. Livi is having (more) trouble sleeping again and I worry that she is not getting as much sleep as she needs. And she is still not showing much interest in finger foods, which also worries me.
Add to this her newly discovered, short but intense temper tantrums, her fussiness, and her clinginess, and I cannot help but feel overwhelmed by it all.
Which problem do I tackle first? How do I deal with it? And what do I do if I cannot take care of it myself or things get worse? When these questions keep my mind busy, I know it is time to do something and sort things out.
When I was pregnant, I was told to breastfeed on demand, whenever the baby would let me know that she was hungry. That made sense to me and I did not think that it would be a big deal. Back then, I imagined a peacefully sleeping baby, who wanted to nurse every few hours and then sleep again. Boy, was I ever wrong.
For the first few weeks after Livi was born, I felt like I was feeding her around the clock; she just wanted to nurse All. The. Time.
As parents we are often overwhelmed and stressed out by everything that needs to be taken care of. Add to this the extra needs and challenges presented by a high need baby, and stress and anxiety can become a constant companion.
But thankfully, there are ways to deal and cope with even the most challenging situations. I have tried several relaxation techniques to deal with the stress that comes with taking care of Livi and on the days that I manage to find some time to relax, I feel much better overall. Therefore, I am always on the lookout for new ideas, which is how I came across Zen Mama’s blog.
Zen Mama aka Betsy published a wonderful post called “How to Calm your Monkey Mind“. She shares great tricks she uses to calm her mind when stress and anxiety are about to take over. From mindfulness to positive affirmations to meditation, they can all be very effective and are worth the effort.
I know it is not easy to find the time to take care of yourself. But take it from me and at least try out some of the techniques mentioned by Betsy. Burnout might just be waiting around the corner and if it hits, it will be even harder to take care of your little one.