Now that days are getting shorter, looking after your baby can sometimes feel like a lonely task. This is especially so if you are spending most of your time home alone with baby. And never more so than in Lockdown 2 at time of writing.
We all need to be looking after our mental wellbeing, and being mindful about the time with our babies can really help both us and them.
Here are a few guidelines, from Moni Celebi, a parent-infant psychotherapist from babies1st, that many parents have found helpful:
- Once you are over the baby shock, or past the first few months of “baby-moon”, establish a routine. But don’t beat yourself up if you cannot stick to it perfectly. It should be more seen as an aspiration than a rigid rule. Try to start with a clear bed-time routine and then work backwards. In the morning it is of course tempting to lie in, especially if you had a night of interrupted sleep, but in the long run it is good to aim for a regular get up time for yourself, even if baby is still asleep.
- Talk to your baby whenever there is an opportunity. Describe what you are doing, what you will be doing etc. Initially this may feel strange, as if you are talking to yourself. But babies love their mother’s voice, and are often curious and understand more than we give them credit for.
- Go out once a day, even if the weather is not inviting. Wrapping your baby up tightly you can then meet up with another mother, a friend or family. Establishing a walk and talk space becomes an opportunity to have a chat, a catch-up, a space where you get some adult attention.
- Join either a face to face or an online group for one of the many baby classes. There are so many activity available, from singing, to signing, to dancing. Try them out and discover what you and your baby like doing together. These are all good ways of building a structure, which will help you and your baby get through the day. Beware not to overdo activities though. It is good to do at least one thing a day, but don’t rush from one activity to another. Make sure you leave space for downtime.
- Create special times. These are the opposite of educational activity classes and can help you connect with your baby in a different way. Put away your telephone and turn off the TV. Set aside 10 minutes to just watch and give your baby your undivided attention. Make sure baby is safe, but then give space to notice what baby wants to do or not to do. Do not educate, stimulate, or initiate, but just be mindful and responsive if baby seeks you out for a cuddle, or wants to look around, move away and explore. Don’t be tempted to rush off to do some chores, when baby is calm, but stay in the present moment. You may just want to describe what you see you baby is doing. Be curious about what baby make be thinking, if s/he had words, and at the same time notice what you are feeling, when you just watch your baby. It can be a relief to be with baby and not be doing something. Babies love their parents’ attention. Try to do this once a day if you can. Over time you will see the benefits.
- At the end of the day make a list of things you are grateful for. Remember the moments you enjoyed and think of what you did to bring them about. Always remember that everyone has good days and not so good days. Don’t strive for perfection, but for “good enough”. Your baby will love you for it.
Moni Celebi is a parent-infant psychotherapist specialising in the 1001 Critical Days (from Conception to age two) [email protected]