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Sleep Strategies for New Parents

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 11:57am
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When you’re a new parent, sleep is at a premium. Taking care of your newborn is a round-the-clock job that completely ignores the routines you might have had before. Every baby is unique, but lack of sleep and exhaustion is one of the common complaints of new parents.

There is a good reason to worry about losing sleep. Research shows that, after 24 hours of poor sleep, people tend to become more short-tempered, think less clearly, have more difficulty making good decisions and feel a constant lack of energy. Lack of sleep has also been linked to postpartum depression for both parents.

Perhaps most importantly, your mental and physical state affects how you relate to your partner and to your baby. It's hard to enjoy your latest addition if you are hardly able to keep your eyes open.

Our experts have put together some sleep strategies to help you and your partner get more rest after your baby is born.

Sleep when your baby sleeps. Although this does not always work for parents, you may want to consider letting that chore go that you were going to do when baby fell asleep and instead—get some rest yourself.

Take turns. While Dad is bathing baby, Mom can take a nap and vice versa.

Simplify your daily routines. Try to reduce your chores.

Ask your doctor about magnesium and calcium supplements. Both of these are associated with healthy sleep.
 
Use sleep aids to help you go to sleep faster:
Use some of your comfort measures or other techniques to help you relax and sleep. A few suggestions follow:

  • Drink warm milk.
  • Take herbal remedies—check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist about using these, particularly if Mom is breastfeeding.
  • Try relaxation techniques.
  • Play soft music.
  • Darken the room if it’s daytime or wear a sleep mask.

Ask for help. Have friends and relatives help out. They can do some of your chores (shopping, cleaning, picking up dry cleaning, etc.) or watch your baby while you get a power nap.

Reduce your intake of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and many people need to reduce or eliminate it to get a good sleep.

 

How did you get enough sleep when your baby was born? Or did you? Leave a comment below and share your experience with other parents.
 

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Mountains and Molehills

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 12:02pm
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There is an old saying;
“Don’t Make a Mountain out of a Molehill”.
John Fox, The Book of Martyrs, 1570

It’s wise advice, but many of us fail to take it. Have you ever noticed that some of the biggest fights you’ve ever had started with something that was, if you really admit it, pretty insignificant? Maybe someone forgot to close the cereal box or the wrong brand of soap was bought – whatever it was, it was probably trivial in the grand scheme.

In the book Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift, a young man travels to strange worlds, one of which finds him a giant. In that land there is a great war between two countries, Lilliput and Blefuscu. When Gulliver asks what started the war the answer is clear, “They cook their eggs wrong”.

“People often make things bigger than they are when they let their emotions overwhelm them and stop thinking things out,” says Greg Lubimiv, a Parenting Expert at The Phoenix Centre for Children and Families.

As well, an exaggerated response may come because there are other things that have happened.

For example, Jim comes in the door from work and finds a meal waiting for him, but there is no milk for the tea. Jim starts to yell at Janice, saying she had all day to get some milk and knows he won’t drink tea without it. Janice runs crying to her room, taking the baby with her and Jim sits in front of his meal, upset but no longer hungry. What Janice doesn’t know and Jim has already forgotten is that the absence of milk was really a molehill. However, there were a number of things that happened to Jim which led to his explosion. Getting a reprimand at the office, being caught in a traffic jam, which made him late for an important meeting and ripping his favourite coat on a fence churned up feelings of anger, frustration and worry. Jim came into his house like a volcano that finally erupted. It seems, also, that it is more common to make big issues out of little ones with those we are closest too, perhaps because that is where we actually feel the safest to let out our pent up feelings.

Our experts have come up with some strategies to help you and your partner keep things in perspective. First, take a deep breath and count to 10 before you say or do anything; or take a ‘time out’ and physically remove yourself. Once you are feeling calm, then try to deal with the issues If you notice your partner might need to calm down first suggest they use a time out or other relaxation technique that will make it easier for you to have a discussion.

You can then ask yourself or your partner the following questions.

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important will this be tomorrow? (1 being not important and 10 being absolutely critical.)
  2. Is there anything else that was bothering me before this happened?
  3. What is the solution to this problem/issue and will my being upset lead to the solution or create more problems?

 

Do you sometimes find yourself making mountains out of molehills? How do you manage when that happens? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!

 

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Finding Personal Time

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 12:17pm
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Before baby, you and your partner probably spent lots of time doing things on your own. Now that baby is here you might find that between changing diapers, feeding baby, spending quality time with baby and getting caught up on everything else that you need to do in a day finding personal time is a whole lot harder.

“New parents sometimes feel like spending time on themselves is a luxury they can’t afford,” says Kris Langille, a Registered Nurse and Parenting Expert. “Some even feel a little bit selfish for wanting personal time when they have all these other demands, but finding time for you is absolutely vital when you’re a new parent.”

Preserving some personal time for yourself is important for your mental health and for your relationship with your partner. It can help prevent any resentment towards your partner, who might seem to be getting plenty of personal time.

Our experts suggest that new parents should try to fit the following three types of personal time into your life!

  • Personal care time: As a parent, you need some time each week to get your hair cut, take an unhurried shower or go to the dentist without having to worry about your baby or other obligations.
  • Personal unplanned time: You also need a bit of time each week that is all yours—to do with as you please—without anything important planned in advance.
  • Personal social time: Each of you needs to be able to keep up with friends and colleagues—to talk with other adults without your baby or partner present

Remember, bringing your baby with you while you take care of your own needs does not count as personal time!

Take a look at our article on Making Time for You for some suggestions on how to get the most out of your personal time.

 

How do you find personal time in your busy life as a parent? What did you do when your baby was first born? Leave a comment below and share your experience with other parents just like you.
 

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Making Time for You

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 12:20pm
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One of the major challenges for new parents is to find any free time at all! However, when you do come up with some specific strategies that fit your schedule, you’ll quickly reap the benefits. Taking a break helps keep you from becoming too overwhelmed and helps preserve your mental health.

Here are some things that you might try:

  • Give each other spontaneous gifts of personal time. Both of you can benefit from mutually supporting each other in taking breaks from parenting. Whenever you think it's needed, send your partner off for a relaxing bath, a workout at the gym or to call a friend for a nice long chat—while you take over. Remember, for it to be a gift, offer up this personal time with a smile.
  • Set aside a regular time each week where the two of you trade off personal time in exchange for baby care. For example, every Saturday morning, one of you takes complete charge of your baby while the other sleeps in, showers or reads the paper; then switch places.
  • Trade babysitting services with other parents. They are in the same boat as you are with the same tight budgets. If you can find the right people, this is a good strategy.
  • Hire outside help to buy a little time for yourself. This will only work if you and your baby feel comfortable with the caregiver. There is no benefit to you spending your personal time worrying about how your baby is getting along with the caregiver. Be sure to ease yourselves into any new caregiver situation.
  • Make some outside commitments to get you out the door. Follow your instincts. Whatever you need to do to relax and stay in touch with the inner you—play hockey, sing in the choir, take a fitness class or play bingo—just sign up and make it happen!
  • Turn commuting time into personal time. Listen to your favourite music, read or plan your next project. If you're driving home, take the back roads for a few extra minutes to calm yourself and transition back into parent mode.

Setting up regular routines and activities that allow you to enjoy your own interests and needs can go a long way to improving family connections, reducing stress levels and decreasing parental burnout. While life as a parent is busy, it’s critically important to not give up on your quest for personal time.

 


Do you have any suggestions to add to our list? How did you find personal time when your baby was young? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!

 

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