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Low power parenting mode activated

February 11, 2016

Sometimes I feel that I’m failing at life, or at least at parenting, because my home is so messy and disorganised. I probably shouldn’t spend so much time looking at Pinterest where parents share pictures of their perfectly renovated designer laundries, their cute, chic, classy kitchens, their home-made, home-grown, organic family-friendly recipes and their top tips for always doing absolutely everything immaculately.

I don’t do immaculate. Having struggled with fatigue and migraines for most of my life my style is cobbled-together, that-will-do eclectic. Sometimes I have to just find ways to keep things vaguely together-ish while waiting for things to improve. I’m an energy-saving Mum, an endurance Mum. No doubt I’m not alone in this.


Just a little normal chaos in our living room…

Below are my tips for getting by with a baby when you’re exhausted or unwell.

Twelve Top Tips for Parental Power-Saving with a Little Bub:

  1. Lie down. If lying down will help reserve your energies, make the most of it at any opportunity. If you are breastfeeding, learn to feed lying down. Particularly in the early weeks, when little babies feed voraciously, this can give you a lot of extra rest. Also, lie down to play and rest with your baby. Your baby will love having you at his/her level so it is a great way to connect, plus you can recharge a little.
  2. Read and sing. Running out of ways to play while horizontal? Try reading and singing. Babies love these activities, they are educational, and they are low energy. Win, win, win!
  3. Keep clothing simple. Neither you nor baby need a complicated wardrobe, and less items in the rotation means less washing, folding and putting away. Your baby doesn’t need special nightwear. Nor does bub need a different outfit each day, if the one from yesterday is still pretty clean. Also dribble bibs are great for catching the worst of those frequent little vomits that babies specialise in  – much easier to wash a few extra bibs rather than changing whole outfits. Spew protection rags draped strategically over your own clothing function in a similar way. And obviously your own wardrobe needs to be super simple wash ‘n’ wear.
  4. Save time on bath time. Many families bathe bubs daily, but babies don’t need to be washed every day. Depending on the frequency of “mishaps”, once, twice, maybe thrice a week is sufficient, and better for their delicate skin than daily baths. Use soft flannels for spot cleans between baths.
  5. Get stuff delivered. Pretty much everything can be bought online and home delivered these days, including groceries. Plus shopping online combines easily with breastfeeding (in these days of smart phones) and allows you to shop around for the best price.
  6. Make use of your baby’s favourite toys and places. Look out for activities, toys and spots that keep your bub entertained with minimal effort. For example, my son gets bored easily inside, but sitting out on our verandah he is entertained much longer. A more unexpected favourite activity is sitting in his high-chair watching our robot vacuum cleaner as it cleans – handy!
  7. Take a stroll. Getting out for gentle exercise in the fresh air will often do you and bub good. A stroll can get the day off to the right start. Bonus tip: when you get home, if bub is settled, this is a good time to quickly hang out a load of laundry or wash some dishes while baby watches on from the stroller.
  8. Find happy helpers, and ask for help. Ask friends and family if they would like to be on your list of emergency contacts. Having a discussion beforehand about how people might be happy to help if you need it will make it easier to ask for help if/when you ever really need it. Then if you do need a hand, ask. (And, yes, this is where I need work!)
  9. Don’t worry about the housework. Sometimes things will get messy. Sometimes you’ll get behind on the dishes, the laundry, the cleaning, or everything. But one day you will catch up. If you can afford a cleaner, or if anyone offers to help, embrace the help. Otherwise, just do your best, and if need be, apply tip 8.
  10. Do what works for you. Ditch guilt. Avoid comparisions. We all have our ideas of what a perfect parent looks like, (and usually plenty of other people telling us what they think perfect parenting looks like too), but we can’t always live up to those ideals. For example, I’d love to feed my son home cooking. And sometimes I do. But much of the time quality store-bought baby food is good enough. I could feel guilty about this. I could wear myself out trying to cook more myself. Instead I choose to ditch the guilt and embrace it. I could also worry about not doing things as well as other parents, instead I reckon it is healthier to just be proud of doing my best. So don’t worry about how things look or what others might think or say if a strategy works for you.
  11. Recharge your batteries. If I’m such a low-voltage parent, why do I bother to blog? I find writing re-energises me. So does gardening and painting, but I happen to find writing easier to combine with parenting. I also find reading revitalising. Find your recharge activities and enjoy. And of course sleep is a great recharger for most of us, so take every chance you get to snooze.
  12. Enjoy your bub! Being mindful and in the moment is far more healthy than constant multitasking. So take time to focus on just enjoying your baby. Savour your cuddles, smiles, feeds and giggles. Just relaxing and enjoying being together is the most restorative thing of all.

I reject Pinterest-perfect parenting in favour of parental power-saving parenting.

If you do too please add your advice in the comments. The more strategies the better!

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