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After being through the chaotic blur of babyhood twice now, I can say without hesitation that when facing the sleeplessness of it all, one thing dramatically reduces stress and anxiety when facing the day:
Having had my much-loved sleep ripped away from me so abruptly for a period of time that felt like it would never end (twice!), I knew I had no chance of survival if I had to actually think about what had to be done the next day. I needed to be more schedule-happy to survive. And of course, I needed to be fully prepared to throw that schedule out the window when necessary.
Nevertheless, I picked up some reliable methods along the way that helped to carry my mushy brain through many days. Some days were destined for chaos from the minute we got out of bed, but there were plenty of days when I was grateful to my past self for those little bits of organisation that carried me through when I needed it.
Besides sleep, if there's one thing that your days revolve around with babies, it's their eating. This becomes easier as your baby gets older and you start to see a consistent eating pattern emerge that helps you create a routine.
Meal times can be difficult for a variety of reasons, but being organised can help preserve your sanity – the last thing you want to be doing though is a last minute dash to the shops to figure out their next meal (and trying to do this when they're tired and hungry … are you insane?!).
Stay organised and calm by planning shopping trips to stock up on food in advance. For any meals and snacks you prefer to make from scratch, schedule an hour or two in your week to get your cooking, mashing, baking, and squishing done, and keep freezer bags or containers on hand for easy portioning to make your week easier.
Stashing a solid supply of any jar or pouch food ensures that you have easy access to convenient foods whenever you need them, and keeping your fruit bowl stocked with a variety of choices creates a healthy smorgasbord for fussy eaters.
There's no more trying to work out dates and scrambling to remember which jabs they've had at what time, or frantically checking the 'blue book' – available for free for Apple and Android phones, the Save The Date To Vaccinate app from NSW Health keeps track of your children's schedule. You just need to enter their date of birth and it gives you information on each scheduled vaccination and lets you know how many days until the next one is due.
You can even put in your doctor's contact details so that as soon as you get your electronic reminder, you can tap 'Make appointment' and call straight from the app.
The app's website also provides plenty of information, links and videos for any parents who want to understand more about vaccinations and scheduling.
And don't worry if your child has a mild cold or the sniffles – these are common and shouldn't delay vaccination unless they also have a fever.
Playgroups are a great way to connect with other local families, giving your baby the opportunity to play, learn and explore with other little ones. Usually held once a week, playgroups are a productive outing worth working into your schedule to also give you a change of scenery with others who can share your experiences and provide support. Go through your diary and write the day and time into every week well in advance so that if you need to book appointments or make plans, you know not to schedule it at the same time as playgroup.
Getting your bag packed and baby supplies ready the night before also means that you have a better chance of getting out the door on time and maximising the time you have to socialise and play.
Unlike many activities, swimming can be done as soon as parents are ready to take their babies in the water and there are plenty of benefits. It builds their reflexes, assists with different areas of development, is great for their respiratory system and can boost their eating and sleeping patterns. It can also be a refreshing pick-me-up for tired parents and is great bonding time.
As these classes are so popular though, many centres can be booked out well in advance. Get in touch with your local swimming centre to find out their times and compare that to your baby's eating and sleeping schedule to help work out the best time of the day for your baby to kick around in the water. Once booked in, get your swimming bags and supplies in order and wash and repack the bag after every lesson so you're ready to go for next time with no fuss.
Learn more at immunisation.health.nsw.gov.au.