Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hints for the New Mom -- Part III

1) Appreciate and savor this season of life. We are always moving into a new season, to which we must adapt. For example, right now, my father is in a health crisis and is staying with us. Naturally, this has altered our household's normal activities. It's hard, especially to watch my father suffer! But, even so, I treasure the moments I have with him. In the same way, a new baby alters the schedule of a married couple. Savor the moments you have with your new baby. When you are constantly changing diapers, feeding a baby day and night, and laundering baby clothing, each day can seem long. But, when you look back at the end of your baby's first 365 days, you'll realize just how fleeting the year really was. So, enjoy!
2) When people offer to come over for an hour or so to help you, let them! It is okay to accept help! Sometimes, people may offer to do something for you, but they won't know exactly what you need. If they ask, offer a concise, non-demanding suggestion. You could say something such as, "Thanks for asking. I'm so behind on the laundry. If you could throw in a load for me, that would be such a comfort to me."
3) Make every effort to grow in your relationship to God. "But women will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." I Timothy 2:15 NIV
The process of being pregnant, giving birth, and beginning to raise a child is a wondrous and profound experience. Provided that you keep a teachable heart, God will use that profound experience to show you his glory and his love more deeply. He will also use motherhood to refine your character. I admire single women who have the gift of devoting their life to God without marriage and children. But, I think God knew that I needed to be a wife and mother to force me to confront and crucify my natural selfishness.
I remember that when I had my first child, DH and I were urgently seeking a deeper relationship with God. I propped my Bible on my knees while I nursed my baby at night. I still treasure those quiet moments when it was just God, my baby, and me. I'm sure my physical eyes were bleary from lack of sleep, but God still used that time to open the eyes of my heart to so many things in his word.
4) Write scriptures on cards and carry them with you or place them in places where you will see them as you go through your day. Jot down on a card things you want to pray about. That way, even on the busiest day with Baby, you can make use of small amounts of time to take God's word into your heart and to pray.
5) Whether you are a naturally scheduled person or you are someone who finds it hard to be scheduled, you may be surprised by how many interruptions to your days that a new baby brings. This requires that you learn how to alter your activities when your baby needs you. Yet, you will need to maintain a certain amount of routine to your life so that you can function. Some mothers adapt easily to this balance between being scheduled and flexible; for others of us, this balance doesn't come so easily. I know that it wasn't easy for me. Here's where prayer and, also, the wisdom of a godly older mother are invaluable.
God is a God of order, and we are made in his image. Both we and our children will thrive best if we can establish some routine and pattern in our lives. On the other hand, we must not get too uptight about our personal idea of how our day should go. Though Jesus was intensely focused on his mission while on earth, he was also approachable. He stopped to bless babies, to touch a leper, to heal a blind man, to call a man down out of a tree and have lunch with him.
Knowing how to meet baby's emotional and physical needs, while at the same staying close to God, meeting the needs of Dh, taking care of your health, and helping others is a delicate balance that requires much prayer and advice. It also requires fully surrendering your day to the Lord.
6) When you have a new baby in the house is not the time to do deep cleaning or spring cleaning. If you can keep things reasonably picked up, the kitchen sanitary, the beds made, and the bathrooms wiped, your house will have a feeling of order and comfort. You can tackle dust bunnies, closets, bookshelves etc., later on. You're not trying to get into House Beautiful right now. Your goal is to maintain a reasonably comfortable and pleasant haven for your family.
7) When you have a new baby is not the time to try out a high maintenance hairdo or to acquire clothing that needs a lot of maintenance, as well. As I said in an earlier post, develop quick and easy personal care routines that help you feel fresh and pretty. Note: Use a burp cloth and also be prepared too change tops often!
8) Accept the fact that you may not feel like everything is perfectly done or completely finished right now. That's ok, provided that you are tending to what is most important in your life. Pray that God will show you what He wants you to accomplish and trust that he will give you the strength and ability. Also, check with your dh to see how he feels about how things are going. (If your dh has what you feel like are unrealistic expectations for you right now, talking with a godly older couple can help you both sort things out).
At the end of each day, be thankful for what you did get done, rather than allow yourself to feel gloomy about what you didn't get done. It is wise to take stock at the end of the day to discern how you can improve. And, if you have been lazy, of course, it's time to repent. But, if you get in the habit of berating yourself over things that you failed to accomplish with your day you are setting yourself up to spiral downwards emotionally. This will drain you physically, making it even harder to accomplish important goals. The result is you will feel worse about your days. Thankfulness, by contrast, will lead to happiness which can lead to more energy, thus creating an upwards spiral. A thankful outlook is essential to your emotional health and will be good for your baby, as well!
9) You may have been used to being on the go as a single woman and, also, as a married woman with no children. Yet, now, you must learn how to operate more of your life from home. So, look for little opportunities to be of service in your neighborhood. Bake a batch of cookies for a new neighbor, for example. Within boundaries that protect your safety, wave to any people who are out in their yards and get to know them as you take your baby for a stroll. Take time to talk to children who are interested in your baby. Be espeically kind if an elderly person expresses an interest in your child; perhaps, you might be the only person they talk with all day! A happy mom with a happy child can be a great encouragement to an entire neighborhood.
What if you live in a neighborhood where no one is home during the day? On warm nights, ask Dh to stroll with you in the later afternoon or early evening, just as people are getting home from work. Also, reach out to other mothers you might meet at the park. You can even have an encouraging conversation with other mothers you see in the waiting room of your doctor's office. Also, you can encourage someone else and receive encouragement yourself if you make it a point to chat with one person for a short time on the phone every day. Don't let phone time get out of hand. But, a short call each day can help you stay in touch with others.
Or, you might write notes that encourage others. Read Jane McWhorter's book, "Special Delivery", which is a course in letter writing. You will find good suggestions for writing letters that will bring joy or comfort to people in many different life situations. Who knows what good you can do if you take five to fifteen minutes at least once a week to dash out a heartfelt, short, impactful note to someone and take it to the mailbox. If you do this once a week, you will have made at least a small difference in the lives of 52 people by year's end!
As you feel like it, have someone over for lunch. Or, let a teen come over and help you one afternoon, while you share an interest in her life. Take baby to visit someone in a nursing home, if that is allowed. Elderly people often are greatly cheered by babies.
If you are creative, you will find many ways to be of service, even when you have a baby under the age of one.
10) Sometimes, you may need to rest when baby rests -- especially in the six months. It may be hard to take time to do this when you know you could get so many things done while Baby is asleep! However, a little investment in your health now will pay off later on. Look at this as a way to maintain your stamina throughout your childbearing years.



Christy said...

Wonderful advice. I had a very difficult time transitioning to motherhood (my own issues plus a high-strung baby), but I'm so grateful for my precious children ... and for the personal growth I might not have experienced otherwise.

Mrs. Brigham said...

The advice you offer is always such a blessing. My first few months of motherhood were a little nutty. We went from overcoming the challenges of our little one arriving early and having nursing troubles to moving twice thanks to the military, all while receiving a week of help at the beginning as our families lived thousands of miles away. The point you made in #3 is excellent! Throughout all of the crazy days and sleepless nights, God has done such amazing things in our lives and always given both me and my husband exactly what we needed to get through the tough situations at hand. The Lord is great!!!

Thank you again for sharing such great wisdom. Your blog is always such a treat to read and a blessing to my heart. :o)

I will be keeping your father in my prayers. May the Lord bless you and your family during this difficult time.

Sherry said...

More great ideas! The letter writing idea really touched me. In fact, I've been on the lookout for a book on letter writing, so thanks for the heads up on Jane McWhorter.