I might get death threats from mother's of newborns for writing this. But honestly? I didn't think having a newborn was hard work. Yes, breastfeeding hurt, yes, waking up 2-3 times a night was tiring- but if you take advantage of the whole 'nap while your newborn is napping' you can totally make sure you aren't sleep deprived.
Obviously if you are a working mother of a newborn that's a whole new ball game and not something I really have an expertise in (except starting at 2 months I did nanny part time so my naps disappeared then) but if you are a stay at home mom and your main job is to care for an infant- my honest opinion is it's not That hard!
I get annoyed when I hear moms of newborns complain every day about how hard it is with a newborn. And I guess it's possible that I just had a Really good baby. And obviously these are just MY Personal experiences. But compared to having a very active, STUBBORN, willful three year old? The newborn stage was a piece. of. cake.
Newborns sleep what, roughly 18-20 hours in a 24 hr period? Maybe a little less? That leaves 4-6 hrs in a day that you need to be mentally one hundred percent there for your baby. The rest of the time? As long as you are a light sleeper and can wake as soon as you hear your baby, you can be sleeping, cleaning, cooking- whatever else you need to get done that is hard to do with a baby that's awake.
My three year old- different story. He recently decided his two hour daily nap is no longer necessary (except it IS because he is crabby as hell if he doesn't get it) so I spend 30 min. every day coaxing him down for a nap- going in every 5 min because he has to potty, kicked his blanket off, dropped his bluey, needs a drink of water, wants a kiss and the list goes on. Only to wake up 35-45 min later completely DONE for the day. This is a billion times harder than when I had a newborn who fell asleep anywhere, didn't matter where we were, how loud it was, if it was dark enough etc. Maybe this wasn't a big deal if I wasn't a 'single mom' during the week. My husband is gone for work from 6:45 AM till about 8 PM most nights, my nearest family member is 700 miles away, which means it's just me and Jasper from the moment he wakes up until he goes to bed at night.
When Jasper was a newborn- I either stuck him on my boob, or made a bottle of formula. Meals were So simple. Sure pumping hurt like a bitch, I didn't have a very good milk supply, Ever, even after sitting hooked up to the pump for an hour at a time 6 times a day, that was still simpler than now.
Now I have to make sure I have 5 nutritious meals planned out every day. And it has to be a variety. And I have to make sure he is getting enough fruits, vegetables, protein, calcium,iron... much more complex than formula or breast milk ever was.
So besides the sleep and eating issue. This kid needs entertained. All freakin day.
As a baby? He would be content for 30 min. watching me shower. He would sit in his little bouncy chair and as long as I flashed him a smile and a coo every few minutes he was fascinated.
Now? I can plan out an ENTIRE day the night before. I even use lesson planning that I learned/studied in all of my Early Childhood Ed. classes I've taken. I can have coloring sheets, letters for him to practice, a baking activity, working on our Swedish, singing songs, a train track built and a park date ALL done before 10 AM. And he still wants more obviously.
As a baby, if I needed to cook dinner I could either wrap him up in the wrap, lay him on a floor with a blanket, put him in his swing or bouncer so I could get stuff done. Easily. Every day. It was Rarely an issue to get the things done I needed.
My three year old? Chill on a blanket or in a chair while I make dinner? Nope. no way. Take for today for example. I head into the kitchen to prepare some quesadillas for dinner. Takes me 7-10 minutes tops. Head into his bedroom which is about like 7 feet away, discover him in his closet. He has open all of his drawers, taken out every pair of pants/shorts he owns and thrown them on the floor. And now the dog is laying on them. So the 7 minutes it took me to make dinner? Has now given me an extra 3 hours worth of washing/drying/folding and putting away clothes.
And then there is the disciplining. For me this has been the hardest part of being a mom. The Actual parenting part. Keeping a newborn alive? Piece of cake. Figuring how to discipline my child so he doesn't turn into a spoiled brat but still giving him room to grow as an individual? Hard and terrifying. It's been hard to find a balance between being too strict and too lax. I think it's very important to set boundaries with children. I think they need routines and rules. But it's also important for them to have choices and figure things out on their own.
So that's where we are now. And it's a daily struggle. Jasper has a Very strong personality. Which I couldn't possibly love more about him. He is such fun, loving, vibrant little person but he is also Very stubborn. Which he gets from both of his parents. He likes to push and test his limits Ever day. In almost every circumstance. And it's easy to let him do it. It's much harder to stick with the rules I set for him. If I warn him about leaving his clothes in the drawer (this wasn't the first time he has done this) and tell him if he continues to rip his clothes out we will be canceling his afternoon park date, and he waits till I'm out of the room and then rips all the clothes out? There has to be consequences. And I really wanted to go to starbucks/the park this afternoon. But I had to follow through. And that can be hard for me.
It's entirely possible that I have just forgotten how hard having a newborn. Maybe I completely blurred out how tough it was, because when I think about to the newborn stage? I don't remember it being hard. And it's not that I don't remember having to pace around the house for hours at night because of colic. or howe sore my nipples AND vajajaj hurt for months. I just think compared to parenting a soon to be 4 year old, the newborn stage was easy.
**Watching my son grow and learn has been the best experience of my life and I wouldn't change a single hard day, or anything about his personality for ANYTHING in the world. Today has just been a Long day.**