This is my second time as a parent and quite frankly I had a lot of apprehension. Its such an emotional and difficult journey being a parent to a newborn again. You don’t realize how much the lack of sleep affects you. You are constantly worrying that you are going to do everything wrong and ultimately hurt your child. But the second time around you have a lot more figured out.
We were also moving into a new house the same week the baby was born. We were tired, exhausted and pushed to the limit; worse than that we had in-laws to deal with. My wife and I were fighting constantly. The lack of sleep killed my impulse control and turned me into a snack eating monster. I can’t say that the hacks below will change all of that but they will sure as hell make it a lot easier the second time around.
1. Hearing protection for Crying (Only during Diaper Changes)
Your baby is going to cry when you are changing them. They are sensitive to the cold, they have an uncomfortable umbilical cord hanging off of them and if they were circumcised, they are just living in pain. People are naturally terrible at multi-tasking. When you are changing a baby and listening to the sounds of infant screaming, it is harder to focus. Put on a pair of old headphones that cover your ears or wear over the eat protection. It won’t block out the sound completely but it will just numb the sound enough that you don’t take the full assault to your ears. I DO NOT recommend ear plugs, depending on the kids age. They may pick up and swallow them.
2. Flashlight in the Corner of the Room
If you have a central light in the room that is not dimmable, the sudden blast of light will cause your baby to scream during a late night feeding or diaper change. Keep an LED one in a reachable place and shine it in a corner when you need to work. The light will bounce off the walls and give you a nice working glow.
3. Standard Work List
I’m not a Lean expert but I have worked in Lean manufacturing for a number of years. When you keep a simple checklist or routine available where you need it, you will be less likely to forget the steps. With a new baby who underwent a circumcision we had to apply A+D ointment. When you are exhausted and can’t remember a simple list of 4 items, this list is golden. Now some of you are wondering, why can’t I use mnemonic? If that works for you... sure. But sleep affects memory and you are more likely to forget something. When you do, there is nothing more frustrating than after a baby is changed, dressed and swaddled having to do it all over again because you forgot one step. I purchased the static cling white board sheets and put them right over the changing table.
4. Reminders for Changing and Feeding times
When you don’t sleep, time is meaningless. You don’t have a solid frame of reference. You can easily forget as short term memory just about sucks. So having a white board sheet for feeding and changing times is priceless. You don’t waste energy on things you’ve already done. I posted this reminder on a central column of the house that everyone walks by. Of course it has to be updated after every diaper change and feeding.
5. Point of Use for all diaper changing supplies
I have a two year old and a newborn. Both of them are in diapers. Bending down or looking away can be disastrous if either one of them falls off of the changing table. The changing supplies are right within arms reach. The door is next to the changing table. Some people put shelves or storage on the walls surround the changing table which is also a good idea. Some people don’t like their kids diapers being visible and feel that this is an ugly aesthetic. Good for you, I’m an engineer and I only care about being functional.
Some non hacks that we are changing up this time around:
- No more co-sleeping. Baby has a baby cot and will not share a bed with us.
- Splitting up responsibilities. Changing a diaper generally comes after a feeding, so after my wife is done feeding him I swoop in and give her the opportunity to have a drink of water and stretch her legs.
- Napping more and sleeping earlier. I’m in bed by 8 PM and wake up to help when I can. I nap in my car during lunch breaks. I will get 7-8 hours of sleep a day so help me God.
- Asking for help. We are’t Youtube Moms who go about parenting effortlessly and feel joy and bliss with every moment life gives us. We’re real people who live the other 95% of life that isn’t shown in a well edited video.
- Being less social. Its not being lazy or inconsiderate. We are not going stretch ourselves thin and commit to anything other than our family until the baby is sleeping through the night.
Well, I hope that some of these things help. The moral of the story is that you need to sleep and if you can’t you might as well do as much as you can to make life easier. Best of luck to all new parents and I hope that you develop hacks of your own.