Top 5 things to do when your baby is sleeping
Everyone (and I mean everyone), tells you that when your baby is asleep, you should do one, and one thing only. Can you guess what it is yet? Yep, that’s right….when your baby sleeps then you sleep too! Emmm, yeah, that would be nice in an ideal world, wouldn’t it? However, in reality this is less likely to happen.
There are many reasons why this idyllic scenario doesn’t often play out. Despite the ever-growing To Do List that seems to spring up overnight for new mums, there is often an overwhelming amount of uncertainty and anxiety that prevents restful day time naps for mums. New mothers, especially in the early days, can spend a large amount of their time in a state of worry. And this doesn’t stop when your baby drifts off to the land of nod. There may be an initial deep breath and a sigh of relief that you have now entered a ‘calm zone’ for a while. It may feel like a little drop of pure golden heaven. You may even have a mini internal dance of celebration that your baby is finally asleep and you find your shoulders drop a little … but that may not last long, because then the anxiety comes knocking on your door.
Mothers have an inbuilt way of finding anxiety about a whole host of things. For example, there is anxiety about them rolling over on to their tummies – what if they can’t get back over again? What if they got caught on the covers? Hurt themselves on the side of the cot or scratch themselves? What if the worst happened and they stopping breathing? What if they choked? What if they are too warm? Or too cold? What if they are abducted by aliens through the window that you’ve opened, and closed, and opened again, about twelve times in the vain attempt of making sure the room temperature is in a constant state of perfection in case they are indeed too hot or too cold….
You can see why having a restful nap may not work for everyone. So here are my top 5 things to do when your baby is sleeping.
I’m not saying sleep! I’m saying relax. Try and take the opportunity to relax and connect with yourself again. You are still you – not just ‘mum’. It’s very important to not lose sight of this, so during nap times why not spend the time doing the hobby you love, whether that be painting, knitting or gardening! Or why not sit down and actually enjoy being able to drink a full cup of hot tea (a very rare thing) while catching up with your favourite TV programme. Don’t feel guilty about doing this. Do not feel like you are ‘wasting time’, because spending snippets of time on yourself is incredibly valuable, and much much more important than doing the laundry – the dirty pile of clothes will still be there when your little one wakes up, and you can throw clothes in the washer while they are awake – you can’t have peaceful you-time then. So take full advantage of nap time occasionally. That being said, if you feel better being organised and using the time to zip around and blitz the house then do it! Some people find tidying and cleaning relaxing. Admittedly I’m not one of them, (I would choose tea and TV any day) but do what works for you!
We all know how hard it can be to hold a conversation while trying to juggle a crying baby, dropping bottles of milk everywhere, cleaning up sick and changing nappies (and their clothes for the 4th time that day!). So while your little cherub is asleep, have friends or family pop over, or pick up the phone and enjoy that conversation with your friend. It can be incredibly isolating and overwhelming having a new baby, and those four walls can soon start to feel like a prison cell, so it’s vital you connect with loved ones in the ‘outside world’ and there’s no better time to do this than during nap time.
You may find you can walk about 2 metres away from your baby until they start making it known that they need/want you back for something. You may have had your hair tied together on top of your head in something that resembles a pineapple for about 9 days now. And when you wash you barely dance in between the droplets of water running out of the shower, all while talking or singing to your baby to keep them constantly calm and entertained, or giving them a running commentary in the vain attempt to make them understand that you are going as quickly as you can and that ‘mummy is coming, MUMMY IS COMING!’. While your baby is resting, jump in the shower and use every single beauty product you can find! And when you have finished having a thoroughly enjoyable long hot shower using three bottle of luxury foaming shower gel, and you’ve untangled your pineapple with two bottles of conditioner, and blunted seven razors (who knows the last time you shaved!), then just stay there and enjoy being soothed by the hot water and imagine it not only washing away the inevitable build up of baby grime, but also washing away your tension, stresses and emotional anxiety. Having a soak in the bath may seem a distant memory so perhaps enjoy one of these – although if sleep deprivation is present in your life, then please be careful you don’t relax too much and drift off to sleep in there yourself!
Anything that requires two hands!
Absolutely anything, anything at all, that requires two hands to complete the task, then do it! As mums, we surprise ourselves at how very quickly we become incredibly skilled at performing a range of simple, to somewhat complex tasks using one hand, and sometimes not even our dominant one! Get us! When we have full reign and confident control of both of our two well-functioning hands, with no baby or bottles to juggle, then use them, and take great delight in performing tasks with ease, in half the time, and enjoy the triumph of feeling even more like SuperMum!
Most, if not all, of your attention, thought and effort will be directed at your baby. You may be enjoying constant interaction and play time, or you may just be focusing on simply getting through another day! Both are understandable and acceptable; however, you still need to look after you. Eating regular meals can prove hard, and we know that quality sleep is out the window for a while, so one thing that you can take control of that will benefit you greatly, is drinking water. Water is absolutely essential to our quality of life every day. It is needed for a host of vital reactions and functions in the body. Even a slight dip in hydration levels can affect your mood, memory and thought processes. Therefore, if you can establish the routine of having a drink of water every time your baby takes a nap, you will help yourself stay hydrated and in turn healthy, alert, and ‘in the game’ to cope better with the long, tiring days. This is especially true if you are also breastfeeding, so make good friends with H2O.
You may notice that all my 5 tips are focused on YOU. There is a very good reason for this. It’s really important to look after yourself, and as mums we often find ourselves slipping down the priority list. We want to put our babies first every second they are awake – therefore, when they are fast asleep, why not make a personal promise to use that time to spend on yourself, even if it’s 20 minutes. You need to ensure you are strong, comfortable, rested, content and confident to take control and cope with every day. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so please look after yourself, and accept that putting yourself first sometimes is absolutely fine. In the great words of L’Oreal, you’re worth it!
Head Chief Nikki xx