Day to Day Survival Tips for New Parents and Parents of Multiples

You're on top of the world, proud as a peacock, and life is great. You've just experienced the birth of your first child, or perhaps even multiple children. So how come you're feeling overwhelmed and exhausted? Babies are a full-time responsibility, and especially having multiple babies or a single "high-maintenance" or colicky infant can be more than you had expected. Here are some survival tips to help keep your day running as smoothly as possible and to keep you smiling as you experience the wonderful world of babies.


Anticipate Needs

Be ready! Reducing the amount of time babies or toddlers have to wait in order to have their needs met will not only reduce their stress level, but yours as well. Patience is a virtue that babies simply haven't heard of. Preparing things ahead of time may take a little more thought and effort on your part, but is a strategy that can make your day go a little smoother. Start small by focusing in on things such as mealtime needs. For example, anticipate lunch before it arrives by using a quiet moment during the morning to make your lunch and theirs and place them on microwavable dishes. That way they'll be ready and waiting for you in the refrigerator when lunchtime arrives. Just heat and serve! For infants, having the entire day's bottles ready the night before will make feedings go more smoothly and reduce the time hungry babies have to wait. Making baby's bottle at the last minute can be a very stressful experience, especially if you are toting around a very hungry little one in your arms.

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 Similarly, having toddler lunches pre-cut into bite size pieces is always helpful in case your hands are full at the time of feeding. This will also assist and encourage toddlers to feed themselves independently. What works after allfor the children also works for the adults as well. Parents of young children and especially parents of multiples rarely get the luxury of eating with two hands. Adult lunches that are premade and precut into manageable pieces will free up one hand for holding, feeding or burping a baby while the other allows you to refuel.

Seize the minute!

Make use of quiet moments to prepare for the next round of chaos. Be good to yourself. Take a short nap to boost your energy, eat a nutritious meal or snack or simply get to the bathroom… who knows when the opportunity to do so will present itself again! Eating lunch a little early is better than not eating it at all! Once again, anticipate upcoming needs. Prepare meals, straighten up one room at at time, refill diapers and wipes etc. Attacking chores a little at a time will make them less overwhelming at the end of a long hard day.

Think it out!

Before you pick up that baby, think about what you're going to do next. Are the supplies you need waiting there for you? There is nothing more frustrating than to undress a baby and unwrap a dirty diaper only to find an empty box of diaper wipes. Once baby has been changed, feed or burped, where is baby off to next and what will he or she need there? Is baby in a safe location away from toddler siblings, pets, harmful substances or falls if the need arises to leave the room? It is extremely easy to get distracted and forgetful especially when you're functioning on only a few hours sleep!

Write it down!

A clipboard with paper and a pencil attached by a string can be a simple, yet effective organizer for baby information. Xerox some computer spreadsheets or handmade charts to fill in daily information about feedings, medicines administered, diaper changes, or even questions for the doctor. Parents of multiples find this strategy extremely helpful since it is very easy to lose track of what was done vs. what needs to be done. Include dates, times, amounts and any observations or problems. This chart not only helps parents to better predict baby's upcoming needs, but also becomes an extremely valuable history of a child's development.

Freeze it!

If man's best friend is his dog, then a new parent's best friend is his or her freezer. Whether you can prepare meals ahead of time, or are fortunate to have enough family and friends who are willing to prepare and send meals to you (sort of like meals on wheels), label and store your breakfast, lunches or dinners in the freezer. That way when you realize that it is already mealtime and you haven't had time to prepare anything, you can quickly wisk out a premade plate and pop it in the microwave. It certainly beats binging on junk food or skipping meals. Remember that you need your strength in order to face the challenges of the day. When people ask if they can help, don't be shy about asking them to send a homemade dinner or leftovers your way. If you are looking to save time and money, consider making cold cut sandwiches in bulk (without the condiments), packaging them in sandwich bags and grouping them into labeled freezer bags. If you're off to work in the AM simply drop a frozen sandwich into your bag and go. It will thaw and be ready for you at lunchtime. Be creative and you'll see just how valuable your freezer can be.

Borrow Extra Equipment

If you are fortunate to be able to borrow baby equipment or can purchase it inexpensively at a second hand shop, take advantage of having seconds around the house. Having a double stroller in the house to help you transport multiple babies from one room to another will save you many steps and will keep them all safely under your supervision. Having a second double stroller in your car is also useful for outings, as well as transporting multiple babies by yourself into and out of the house without having to leave any of them unsupervised. Likewise, having a swing for each baby can help to sooth simultaneously crying infants as well as your nerves. Extras are also helpful to have at babysitters' or grandparents' houses in order to cut down on carrying the same items back and forth each day.

Use Your Answering Machine

As terrible as it seems, it is helpful to use your answering machine even when you're at home. It is very difficult to stop in the middle of a diaper change in order to rush to answer the phone, or to try to carry on an in depth conversation with your toddler requiring your supervision or wanting your undivided attention. It is much easier to let your machine take a message and to call back when the time is right for and for your babies. If you call back when they're asleep or when things are basically under control, you can actually carry on a pleasant conversation free of interruptions.


Start Your Day Right

One of the simplest yet most important things to do for yourself is to start the day off on the right foot. Even if you have to sacrifice a few minutes of your precious early morning sleep to get up, get showered and dressed before chaos hits, it will be well worth it later on. If not, you run the risk of sporting your pajamas and robe to the dinner table that evening. It is much easier to face the day (and the bathroom mirror) if you are dressed and ready to go. You'll thank yourself for this one!


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