Sunday, March 11, 2012

Life with a newborn

So teeny tiny!
Our 'baby' year with Millie is drawing to a close. I can't believe she's almost one. She is such a joy to have around and cracks us up all day long. Whenever my friends said 'My baby is hilarious! You wouldn't BELIEVE the things she does.' I'd always smile politely and wonder what drugs they were on. But now, I am a convert. My baby is hilarious.
I digress. (Have I mentioned that I am also a baby bore?)
As our baby year with Millie is ending my sister's baby year will be beginning in the blink of an eye. And it's gotten me to thinking about our year with Millie, and how on earth we I coped. The big key for me was organisation. If I couldn't control anything else at all in our day (like eating or sleeping) I could control how things could pan out. It was the simplest things that my mother laughed at when I told her, but things that helped Mr S and I no end.

Change Area aka How To Avoid The Poo
There are no photos of this because this part of the lounge room looked like a bomb site a lot of the time. We have little plastic baskets under the change table. One had lotions, creams, thermometer, panadol, nail clippers in it. The other had face washers. Another had cloth nappies, another disposables. The bottom shelf had white terry square nappies and coloured terry square nappies. Wet wipes usually lived on the dining table next to the change table. We did not eat at the dining table for about six months, never fear. Also, now Millie is mobile the lotions & creams basket lives in the top of our pantry.
We had another plastic basket that I would often prepare in the afternoon for bathtimes. I'd stick a wondersuit, singlet, nappy and nappy rash cream in this. Seems overly simple (thus Mothership laughing at me) but 5-7pm used to be somewhat hellish in our house so it eased my mind to know that everything we needed for bathtime was right there and ready to go.
Mr S adds that his hot tip is to make sure there's always a clean white terry square on the change table to put the baby on to. As I've mentioned before we use white terry squares for the business end of the change table, and anything to do with bottoms, and coloured terry squares for faces, to place on the head end of the change table (M used to vomit quite a bit), keep around for feeding etc etc. Mr S also used to tuck a clean white terry nappy into his waistband with the other end laying on the change table. This protected him from... erm... explosive matters approximately 90% of the time. (The other 10% were well aimed and therefore one could only be impressed.)
Coloured towel for the head, white for business end.

See the blurry legs? This is what you get to deal with.

We started setting out our early morning kitchen things the night before, and it's a habit I still do now. For us it's coffee, tea, mugs and spoons. Let's face it, if you're up at 5am, it's a welcome sight to see your first hit of caffeine ready to go. Also fill the kettle up the night before for extra smiles. Everyone repeat after me, first cup of coffee.... ahhhhhh. Also, if your bub has bottles, boil the kettle before you go to bed so there's cooled, boiled water ready to roll in the morning.
I hate myself for saying this, because I am only a recent convert... but wash up. A lot. Like, after every meal. When there's only you and a baby home during the day, it takes approximately thirty seconds to wash your lunch dishes. I have found that if I do not do the dishes and high chair table after every meal, by dinnertime there's been some sort of strange party in the kitchen and the dishes have shared drinks and played seven minutes in heaven and there's far more dishes than before. It's a strange phenomenon. But yes, dishes, often.

As I've previously mentioned, we cloth nappy mostly during the day with disposables at night. We are inherently lazy so we assemble each cloth nappy right down to the liner placed inside and clip them up, ready to go. Then when you are wrestling a mini Incredible Hulk changing the light of your life's nappy, they are there, ready to go. Biodegradable, flushable nappy liners are mandatory. Cost vs spraying unspeakable volumes of poo into the toilet... I'm happy to pay that money. It means that instead of unspeakable volumes of poo, it's often just volumes of poo.

Around The House Basket
I've mentioned this before, and I'm fairly sure most of you looked at me with collective 'You're Such a Weirdo' eyes. I was SO tired and SO forgetful in the beginning that to save my own sanity I trotted a small basket around the house with me for the first few months. It had
  • My mobile phone
  • The cordless home phone
  • Spare breast pads
  • My notepad & pen
  • A muesli bar and
  • Hair ties

When I would be often pinned to one spot for an hour or so feeding, this was great. Everything I could possibly need quickly, right to hand. You could also add television remotes if you so choose. Vodka optional, potentially not the best idea before 4pm. (What? In winter the sun sets early here.)

Clothes Washing
Show me a baby that doesn't generate a bootload of washing and I'll call you a liar. I know it's the last thing you feel like doing at 3am, but let's face it, you're awake and up already so put a load of washing on. Then it's ready to hang out, and forces you to go outside, at least twice during the day. We are lucky that our laundry is outside our house so the noise isn't an issue for us. That said, even if your laundry is inside, put it on anyway. I think it's best everyone gets used to a bit of nocturnal noise. The other way to look at it is that if you're not sleeping, no one is. As for the hanging out and bringing in and folding... well, you're on your own. My most loathed jobs and I am exceptionally bad at it. The clothes have been known to stay on the line for a few days, and it's only when we are missing things ('AMY! HAVE YOU SEEN MY SOCKS?') that I remember I put the dryer on four days ago.

If you are a newly breastfeeding mama (I have no experience of non-breastfeeding Mamas, so excuse my ignorance please) you will be hungry. All. The. Time. My mother was wise to this fact and when she stayed with us after Millie was born she would provide me with food for all hours of the day and night. Mr S would help me get set up to feed Millie at 3am, then bring me a perfectly quartered egg sandwich tightly wrapped on a plate that my mother had prepared during the day and put in the fridge. Never has an egg sandwich tasted so good. If you're making a lunchtime sandwich, make two, and put one in the fridge for later. If you have an aversion to fridge cold sandwiches, think of it like a) hospital sandwiches and b) stop bloody complaining, it's food you don't have to make for yourself on the spot.
Ditto meals. Put one half of the dinner in the freezer. It's so much easier! Label everything in the freezer, and if you're extra organised, write a list for the front of the fridge with the freezer contents. That way, you can think about dinner in the AM, scan your fridge list, imagine it's like ordering takeaway, just with a 12 hour wait, and put your frozen meal on the bench to defrost. Dinner is done!

The Nitty Gritty
If you're way too tired to understand this, take heart. I understand. Here's the cheat's list of everything I've just said.

  1. Change Area: Nappies, Wipes, creams. A garbage bin close by is extra handy. Baskets to put all this stuff in is extra handy.
  2. Change Area: Coloured towels. White for bums, coloured for faces. Trust me. Trust me. Trust me.
  3. Cloth Nappies: Nappy sprayer. Essential.
  4. Kitchen: Set up your mugs for morning coffees the night before. Boil the kettle for bottles. 
  5. Kitchen: Wash up. Often.
  6. Around The House Basket: Daily essentials, right at hand.
  7. Clothes Washing: Wash in the middle of the night. Stuff the noise.
  8. Food: Freeze meals. 
  9. Food: Prepare sandwiches for nocturnal feedings.
  10. Food: Label your meals and put a list of frozen meals on the fridge.
What are your hot tips to add here?


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