se7en

The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Se7en Survive A Newborn…

October 14th, 2009 · 35 Comments

I could have just as easily called this post:

Getting Things Done With Se7en + 1…

I thought while #8 is just two weeks old – still young enough for it all to be very fresh in my mind, I would give you some of my survival secrets… yes it is survival, no they are not secrets!!! Most baby books tackle survival from a first time mom’s perspective… but since most folk have “two point something” children then there should be quite a market for folk to know what to do with their other kids when a newborn arrives… I wrote about the jump from one kidlet to two previously Se7en Things People Ask Me About Siblings… And quite honestly it is two or more…

I think the most important thing you can do for any newborn is to have hours and hours to sit around and admire it, hold it and love it… You have months to think about how you are going to achieve this – unless you are one of those urban legends that only discovers that they are pregnant at 38 weeks and I have yet to meet one of those!!!

Most books and articles will say “Just lower your standards” trust me when a visitor arrives and you have eight kids and you haven’t cleaned the bathroom in two weeks they won’t be telling you to lower your standards… No I don’t lower my standards but I do lower my expectations – I expect to do less and my “To Do List” after nine months of nesting is pretty much reduced to nothing but the most basic chores.

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  1. Keeping On Track: If you take nothing else from this post then take this!!! When you have a new baby your brain is all over the place and you can be too. You get up and go to the fridge for a drink and put two dishes in the dishwasher but then remember you should return a phone call, as you dial you think you will collect the post on the way to the post box you collect in half of yesterday’s laundry. Which reminds you to put todays laundry on and so you go and gather it in the bathroom but put the caps back on the toothpaste instead and then your newborn wakes up and in the 30 minutes you had to do chores you have achieved absolutely NOTHING and you have been very busy doing NOTHING and you are now totally exhausted.

    Here it is: Finish one thing before you start the next. It is better to just have the load of dishes in the dishwasher than some dishes in the dishwasher, a table half wiped and the laundry half in the washer… it is just as much work to half do every task as to do half the tasks properly. I reduce my tasks and do them till they done… if the table isn’t clear then I don’t pack the dishwasher and so on… retrain that wandering brain!!!

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  3. Keeping Rested:

    This is the most important of all, without rest you are a prisoner of war – the lack of sleep war. You are most unlikely to have a baby who sleeps through the night. Be grateful! If you have lots of big siblings “helping” in the day time then the night time is perfect for spending some alone time with your little one. Usually we are uninterrupted at two in the morning, it is peaceful and lovely and I am grateful for that time together. I certainly wasn’t pregnant for all those months so that he would sleep all the time – I like spending time with him!!!

    So when do I rest… well when our baby sleeps I always (!) without fail have a little nap!!! Right now he sleeps and eats and wants to be held and sleeps and eats etc… every other sleep he has I sleep too. That’s it I just can’t go any longer and survive. I know it and I do it!!!

    Otherwise, I have to watch other folk’s sleep as well!!! In the last month of pregnancy bed times slide as I am just too tired to get all these little ones to bed… but I am back, as are bedtimes, and they know it!!! I no longer have the fatigue of pregnancy to deal with. I have found that while the fatigue of pregnancy kills me I can cope with the fatigue of lack of sleep a whole lot better.

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  5. Keeping Fed: Now rest might be my priority but food is everybody else in the families priority!!! When our newborn wakes up at the crack of dawn I put breakfast ready. When he has his morning nap I get lunch ready… as soon as he sleeps after lunch I get as much of supper ready as I can… This is why: When your baby is inside of you, you gently rock it… and then sit during meals and collapse into bed, so whenever you are busy your baby is lulled to sleep and whenever you normally sleep it is ready to play… There is nothing worse than bounding children needing a meal and your newborn wide awake looking for food at the same time – you know they can take hours to nurse… I try and prepare as much as I can in advance and shift our meal times slightly earlier. Earlier mealtimes means that no-one is starving and therefore impossible and if a disaster happens then we can resolve it and still be on track.

    We have been really blessed with meals this time round and it has been wonderful!!! Never before in all our babies have we been overwhelmed like this!!! It has been fabulous. Usually folk look at me and they say: “You wouldn’t like a meal would you?” and you know they are thinking: “How on earth do I feed ten people!!!” Really most of our people are tiny still and only eat like quarter people!!! So we aren’t catering for ten, five at the most but certainly not yet ten of us!!! Needless to say that we are so very grateful for thoughtful friends but I feel terrible that they think they should provide a meal, even a packet of biscuits goes a long way when a meal does run late. And a packet of rolls or a batch of muffins is really just as heavenly as an entire meal!!!

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  7. Keeping Clean: I can shower in about 3 minutes flat – that’s all it takes… 3 minutes and the first three minute gap I find in a day I take for a shower, while I am there I do my teeth and charge the kids toothbrushes for after breakfast. Yes I have to say this because you would be surprised how many people ask: “When do you find time to clean your teeth?” Now when I had one child a baby bath took at least an hour… what on earth was I doing!!! Now while the se7en have breakfast #8 has a bath… really just a nappy change with a dunk in the sink and fresh clothes – 10 minutes tops. The trick is being prepared when I change a nappy or change his clothes I am not finished until I have everything absolutely ready for the next time around… A fresh little nappy and a fresh set of clothes are good and ready for him so there is no scramble before I change him… we are just ready.

    As for housecleaning, well break it down into really small bits… smaller than that! It takes about two minutes to sweep our kitchen but maybe 30 minutes to sweep the whole house… I keep the kitchen swept. It takes about four minutes tops to wipe the bathroom. Once a day when I am in there helping a little person I will quickly wipe/mop everything down and honestly that’s all it takes – as long as things are neat folk will assume it’s clean… well I am hoping anyway!

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  9. Keeping Tidy: We usually have a couple of visitors around the time of a newborn and for them I want our house to be welcoming. I don’t want to say come and look at our little blessing and all the chaos we live in. Normally we don’t live in chaos but with a newborn I need things to run smoother than normal. The trouble is you will spend hours sitting and nursing and your kids will spend those same hours unpacking their treasures!!! But I have nine months to organize/orchestrate things. I make sure that during all that nesting time everything has a place… and if it doesn’t then out it goes – it is a time to be ruthless.

    Now I can say tidy up we have ten minutes and boom most of the house is back where it belongs. I never said our house was immaculately clean – but it appears to be tidy!!! Cleared surfaces, books on shelves and toys away. Other chores get done, like laundry and so on, because they are part of our rhythm… At the end of the day when I check all the laundry is folded and returned to its owner then I put the goodies out that they need for bedtime… little people need their jammies out and I charge toothbrushes again for bed-time… because I know as soon as I sit down for bedtime (rest!!!) #8 will awaken ready for action and all those two second bed time tasks will suddenly be totally unachievable!!!

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  11. Keeping Friendly: It is a big temptation to just say no to guests, when a friend asks if they can pop over and visit… I often just want to say no-thank-you, but actually that’s mean!!! They want to meet your new baby, most guests come and go. Also visitors are fun for the whole family and are part of the celebration, let them come and just adapt your rhythm. The ones that linger longer or are extremely high maintenance are part of life as well… we all have had those, accept them as part of your trial in life – endure it and move on… really it is sometimes better to get somethings over with and then you won’t spend your days dreading them.

    Meanwhile, thank-you’s need to be said… I avoid the phone like the plague, luckily ours hasn’t been working for months!!! Phone-calls disrupt and take forever and when you should have been doing a quick task you have done a phone call and nothing! Thank-you letters are your friend, they take as long as you like and I keep them really short! Trust me on this: folk want a photo and to hear that you appreciated their gift… a sentence or two and it really takes a minute… I keep thank-you cards at my computer and every time I sit down I fill one in – don’t let them build up because you will just get overwhelmed… also the longer you leave it the higher the recipients expectations of a thank-you become… trust me get them out. Remember nobody wants an epistle on your childhood or your birth story… just trust me here!!! If you want to write that then start a blog about it!!!

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  13. Keeping it Fun: The last thing I want my kids to remember about newborns is all their mother did was sleep and ignore them. I have to keep it fun…and that is easy with a bit of preplanning. No elaborate outings, crafts, games and such like… but simple pleasures that we don’t normally do: bubbles and face-paints, heaps of stories on the couch, initially stories while nursing is hard because newborns need a two handed mother and undivided attention to nurse – trust me on this… but I allocate someone the job of page turner and we are off!!! My kids also obsess over a particular toy (dare I say LEGO) so anything else is pretty much packed away and out of sight… It is really fun for them if I bring out the cars or animals and have a theme day – no extra work for me, but a change is as good as a holiday I believe!!!

Here is a secret: I know I am not up to much for the first twelve weeks, my newborn needs me and shall have me. So I very carefully plan to do nothing much for the first twelve weeks and I know some of you are saying twelve weeks – gasp that’s a long time, yup it takes me twelve weeks to get my rhythm back. I know I have done it before!!! I never say as much out loud, but anything over the bare minimum in that time – like blogging for instance – is actually overachieving, way beyond my personal expectations!

That’s us – surviving our little newborn in the most delightful way. Only at two weeks he is uncrumpling, his legs are uncrumpling, his face is uncrumpling and listen to me here: newborn is so quick and fleeting, just enjoy it…

I popped this post onto the Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything.

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Tags: babies · Thoughtful Thursdays

35 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Taryn // Oct 14, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    point #1 cracked me up – I do that ALL the time – not only with a newborn around. Retrain the brain is needed here at the Hayes home! Hey, I do get a lot done, just not what I originally intended! :) Great list of tips – I assume no schooling takes place during this time? For those non-organising types or visitor-phobes (like me when I’m exhausted) your list is hard to achieve, but worthwhile aiming for none-the-less!

  • 2 Jenni @ Life from the Roof // Oct 14, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I recently had my 2nd child, and my first is 2 years old, and it’s honestly been really hard adjusting to having more than one. I find myself wondering how in the world people manage to have more, let alone 7 or 8 kids! Your post is really helpful, and I’m going to re-read it several times and see how I can begin to implement certain things in my own day.

  • 3 Cilla // Oct 14, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    so much wisdom here … not just for the mum with a newborn… but any overwhelmed mother.

  • 4 se7en // Oct 14, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Hi C, Glad you liked it! I think overwhelmed is a very common feeling amongst moms!!! You have a good week and thanks for stopping by.

  • 5 se7en // Oct 14, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Hi J, Goodness the jump from zero to one was insane!!! The jump from one to two was huge and I wrote about it here after that they just kept on fitting in! It actually gets easier as the older ones are much more capable and the toddlers have a lot less freedom than when there is only one toddler roaming free while you attend to a newborn. You take care and it will get easier, before you know it they will be up to mischief together!!! Have a good week!

  • 6 se7en // Oct 14, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Hi T, So glad I could crack you up on this fine day!!! We took this week off school but will be back to the grind on Monday!!! Experience tells me that it is better to do as much school as possible when they are tiny and sleepy!!! Have a good week – hope you are having lots of fun with your sister out!

  • 7 jill // Oct 15, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Hi! I’m new here. Found you via Small Notebook. I read up on some of your toy organizing ideas and enjoyed today’s post as well. My two-year old daughter will be turning three right about the time my twin boys make their debut. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. But if you can do eight, I can do three. What one woman can do, another can do. :o)

  • 8 steadymom // Oct 15, 2009 at 2:17 am

    Wonderful news – congratulations and good tips for staying sane. Sounds like you’ve had lots of practice…

    Blessings,

    Jamie (another SL’er!)

  • 9 se7en // Oct 15, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Hi Steadymom – How cool to have you stop by!!! Always nice to meet a SLer in person. I love your 30 minute challenge!!! I have never written a post in thirty minutes! I guess I just can’t stop myself always saying one more thing!!! Hope you guys have a great weekend together…

  • 10 se7en // Oct 15, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Hi J, Isn’t SmallNotebook the Best! Oh I wish you all the best with your twins – it will be tough at first – I have never met a mom of multiples who wasn’t overwhelmed initially… but brilliant once you find your stride. Grab all the help you can get, I hope it goes really well for all of you! Have a great restful weekend!!!

  • 11 Stina // Oct 15, 2009 at 7:02 am

    This was a great post. You are so correct when you say that most baby books assume that you are having your first child and allow for all the time in the world for things. I like that you find little bits of time here and there to get things done and then do it! (my downfall is the actual doing it part. and that’s just with two. ah!).

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences with us. I really look forward to all the words of wisdom you so freely give. :)

  • 12 se7en // Oct 15, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Hi S, Thanks for commenting – I think everyone’s downfall is actually “just doing it”!!! All of us seem to be natural born slackers!!! Luckily we are works in progress!!! You have a great weekend!

  • 13 jacki // Oct 15, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for this – a keeper for me for a few more re-reads before no 4 arrives. This is the kind of rare and real insight that I will need to start working on putting in practice now!! Thanks for sharing your experience! (That new little guy is too sweet for words.)

  • 14 CA // Oct 15, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Hi

    I’ve been really busy – and have not had time to se7en for quite some time – so I missed the birth and all :-( sorry! BUT – WOW! What a gorgeous baby :-) Congratulations and well done – you seem to have it all under control – as usual :-) xca

  • 15 se7en // Oct 15, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Hi J, Good to hear from you again!!! You take care of yourself while waiting for #4!!! Have a great weekend!

  • 16 se7en // Oct 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Hi there CA, Good to hear from you again… thanks for the well-wishes!!! You have a good weekend!

  • 17 maya // Oct 17, 2009 at 3:42 am

    Hi there Mama Se7en! This has been my busiest month yet, and I’ve missed you dearly. I’ve wanted to get over here since our eldests celebrated their birthdays together. It was actually the same exact day. You are always so inspiring and fill me with awe. Now with Hood 8 I’m just speechless at what you accomplish and how beautifully at that. So a big congratulations to your entire clan and a huge hug to you. This post is a perfect example of just how amazing you are. You’re one of my heroes in the world of mothering and creativity. I know that I’m not alone with that sentiment! xoxox

  • 18 se7en // Oct 17, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Hi Maya… Haven’t I noticed how “everywhere you are” etsy fame and bloesom and everywhere!!! It’s lovely to keep bumping into your creativity!!! I have no idea how you are keeping your head above water. Not to mention getting the kids to school – where did your summer go!!! Thank-you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment I so appreciate your words!!! I hope you guys get to spend some special time together this weekend.

  • 19 Rachel // Oct 17, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Congrats on Hood #8! He’s super cute.

    Your post was so helpful to me, and also the one about toddlers and newborns. I’ve definitely needed to focus on getting one thing done and not getting distracted. So I’m going to finish my thank you notes. I need some accountability — I’ll email you when I’m done with them!

  • 20 se7en // Oct 18, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Oh Well done R!!! I have to write a couple of thank-you notes myself… in time for tomorrow – hmmm time to stop blogging and follow your lead!!! I know it is a quick job and it is really all about focus… Anyway I am thrilled you stopped by our blog – I totally love yours!!! Have a great weekend!!!

  • 21 Se7en Things You Forget About Newborns and Newborn Mums… | se7en // Oct 20, 2009 at 9:00 am

    [...] I mention: How many hours in every day are spent caring for a newborn… not as many as you might think, they nurse and you change them but that doesn’t take all day. [...]

  • 22 Momma Bug // Oct 22, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Well I just had a lovely time reading this wisdom!
    And enjoying a few of your more recent posts. I am reveling in the newness of my number six, and it is so very encouraging to be reminded to slow down and take it all in! I am learning, but I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed;-)
    Practical advice from the trenches is welcome welcome welcome!!!

    Yours is a darling:-)

    Love,
    Analene

  • 23 se7en // Oct 22, 2009 at 6:31 am

    Hi M-B, Congrats on #6!!! Yup I am headed for the couch this instant – it is all flying past way too fast – like woahhh where did three weeks go already – like where!!! Amazing how those 40 weeks drag and drag and drag and everything else screams past us… That Divine sense of humor I guess!!! Hope you all have a good week!!!

  • 24 Marcia Francois // Nov 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    I also had a lovely time reading your wisdom. Wish I’d known it when they were born because honestly i thought the craziness would never end. And with two, you just do the whole feed, change, burp, and the next one is awake, and so you get about 45 minutes sleep every 3 hours.

    These days I feel positively spritely getting hours strung together at one time!

    he is GORGEOUS!

  • 25 se7en // Nov 11, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Hi spritely M!!! I will tell you a secret (on the internet – so its no longer a secret) with kids the madness of one era ends and a new madness will fill the gap… The trick is to look forward to all the madness with joy!!! Have a good day with your sweet ones!!!

  • 26 Surviving a newborn! - birthtalks ® // Nov 13, 2009 at 4:31 am

    [...] this blog post from a mum who has just had #8 and found it really helpful so thought I’d share! Se7en Survive A Newborn… | se7en __________________ me DH DD, DS & bubba due late autumn We should honour and respect our [...]

  • 27 Mandi @ Organizing Your Way // Nov 14, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Thank you so much for not taking the standard “just lower your standards” route!

    It’s taken me 2 months to find a rhythm with my newest little one. Two keys for me were to start school for my older kids early (in July), so we could take off without feeling guilty and to stock my freezer FULL of meals. I still have 1-2 weeks worth of dinners and a few breakfasts and lunches left, and it has been a lifesaver!

  • 28 Mandi @ Organizing Your Way // Nov 14, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Oh, sorry, I thought of another. I told my husband the areas that were important to me that I didn’t think I could handle (straightening up our room and bathroom in the morning was the biggest) and asked for his help until I got back on track!

  • 29 Surfin’ the Net: Windows7 Edition | Organizing Your Way // Nov 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    [...] Survive a Newborn, [...]

  • 30 se7en // Nov 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Hi M, Nice to meet you and thanks for linking us!!! I tell you the cleverest thing is to say: “I need help with…” and then wait for the help…by the time I get round to asking for help I am usually desperate… and then I don’t wait for the help I still battle on!!! You sound like you have figured this all out!!! Hope you and your family have a great weekend!!!

  • 31 Callista // Nov 22, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Well I don’t know about 38 weeks but my friend found out she was pregnant at 6 months. She’d always had irregular periods so that was nothing new and she thought the movement of the baby was gas. She didn’t have most of the other signs of pregnancy.

  • 32 se7en // Nov 22, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Hi C, Wow!!! I guess life is full of surprises and for some more than for others!!! Thanks for stopping by!!!

  • 33 Se7en's Fabulous Friday Fun #192... - se7en // Oct 13, 2013 at 1:41 am

    […] 2009: Se7en Survive a Newborn… […]

  • 34 Jessica Brammer // Apr 4, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks for this post. We just had baby #5 and the transition has been harder. When you said that you give yourself 12 weeks to get back into the swing of things I was encouraged. It’s only been 9 weeks for me so far and I feel like I should have life working smoothly again but I don’t yet. I totally agree that the newborn time goes fast, but I think with each new baby I enjoy it more.

  • 35 se7en // Apr 5, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Oh Jessica, Firstly – huge congratulations!!! Secondly… Give yourself a break… somehow it takes longer to get back into it, the more kids you have and that is so okay. I always say to my “new mum” friends this time is your baby’s time… your older children had their infant time with you and they will be pleased to know that their new baby sibling is getting the best possible care and the very same care that they got. Hang in there and take your time… before you blink things will be back to your families crazy normal!!! wishing you all the best!!!

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