Start a bedtime routine
It can be helpful to begin a bedtime routine right away. “Right off the bat, you can start giving the baby a bath, reading a book and helping her prepare for sleep,” Gordon says. Dimming the lights and playing quiet music can create a restful mood.
Whether or not your baby goes to sleep right away doesn’t matter; the point is for her to grow accustomed to the family’s evening routine. (If you wish to sleep with your baby, consider putting her in a bassinet and then bringing her to bed with you when you’re ready to go to sleep. Don’t leave her alone in an adult bed.)
Get out of the house
Another simple routine to institute is to take a walk around the block at about the same time every day with the baby in a front carrier or stroller. Eventually you may be able to go for an easy run with your baby in a jogging stroller.
Carolyn Bennett, 33, an audiologist in Rochester, N.Y., says it took her about three months to get completely in sync with her son, Jack, now 9 months old. “I was really frazzled,” she says. “I tried not to go anywhere and worked around his nap time.” Lucky for Bennett, Jack is a good sleeper (two naps a day for two hours each) and can doze off anywhere. Eventually, she discovered that she and Jack both could get what they needed when she resumed running—this time with him in the jogging stroller, where he often happily slept. In fact, she recently ran a 5-mile race with Jack asleep in his three-wheeled stroller.
Make time for your partner
Once the baby goes to bed, stay awake to spend some time alone with your partner. Knowing you’ll engage in adult conversation every night will help you maintain a sense of self.
Mai Delapa, 35, of Boston, pined for those nights out with her husband, Anthony, after their daughter, Lang, now 17 months, was born. “I really missed spending time with Anthony,” she says.
Delapa had been used to living spontaneously, which was no longer possible with a new baby. “At first I resented having to plan everything,” she says. “But once I accepted that this was how it had to be, things got a lot easier.” Nights out with Anthony evolved into nights in with Anthony, talking or watching a movie instead of having a drink at a bar or dining out at a restaurant.
Hanging out with other new parents can keep you sane in those trying first months. Invite other new moms over for tea or meet them in a child-friendly cafe or diner. Finding activities that are fun for you and your baby is key to finding your way together.