Life with a newborn baby is demanding and new parents can find it difficult to set aside time to decompress. The challenges of caring for an infant, especially a premature baby, can be so stressful that it is essential for the health of the whole family that parents have a chance to recharge and collect their sanity regularly. Particularly if you are the primary caregiver for a new baby, it is important that you be mindful of your own physical and emotional needs. Try to establish a flexible routine and ask your partner, family, or friends to help open up some time in your schedule. You can also look for ways to incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily activities. Here are 5 ideas to get you started.

  1. Practice stretching and breathing exercises. New parents, especially nursing mothers, are often told to make time for themselves, but finding an hour to yourself even once a week can be a tall task. We’d almost always rather catch up on sleep! One way to work relaxation techniques into your daily routine is to stretch and do breathing exercises at transition points throughout the day. Even a few easy stretches and simple in-the-nose, out-the-mouth deep breathing can be extremely beneficial. The baby’s feeding times can provide opportunities to slow down and intentionally relax. If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you’ll likely see added benefit. Stress and tension can be detrimental to successful breastfeeding or pumping, so taking a few minutes before sitting down to feed the baby is not only physically beneficial to the woman, but may save time in the long run by making milk-expression more efficient.

 

  1. Get some sunshine. Sunlight plays an important role in regulating mood and sleep rhythms. Of course it’s important to protect yourself and your baby from overexposure, but regularly spending moderate amounts of time in the sun can improve mood, vitamin D levels, and sleep patterns. In the winter, you can arrange a place to sit by a sunny window while you feed the baby or read books together. Going for regular walks as a family is another great way for everyone to get some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.
  2. Make time to exercise. Finding a block of time to go for a bike ride, swim, or attend a yoga class can be more challenging for new parents. But if you’re able to have someone else care for the baby for a little while, getting away to get some good exercise will do wonders for your overall well-being. If your child enjoys being in a baby carrier, a hike together as a family can be a great option. In addition to providing physical benefits, exercise reduces stress, helps regulate emotions, and facilitates more restful sleep.

  3. Pick back up on a favorite hobby. Parenthood has a way of pushing non-essential activities to the wayside, especially during the first few months. If you have a hobby that brought satisfaction before the new baby arrived, see if you can make time to pick it back up again, even occasionally. Whether you enjoy knitting, drawing, tinkering, or making music, hobbies provide a sense of accomplishment that would do the harried parent good.

  4. Spend uninterrupted time together as a family. Social connections are one of the best defenders against depression. Make time for them. Especially if you’ve gone through a difficult delivery or been through the ordeal of having a baby in the NICU, strong family relationships can be an immense source of comfort. Make an effort to spend screen-free time together at mealtime or sit down for a chat with a loved one when the baby has gone to sleep. Give the baby tummy-time and get the whole family down on the floor to play together, talk, laugh, and just enjoy each other’s company.

Finding time for relaxation and stress relief is difficult for new parents, but even small steps toward incorporating healthy habits into your routine are well worth the effort. If you’ve found something helpful here or want to share what has worked for you, leave us a comment. We’d love to hear from you!