If you are reading this on the screen of your smartphone with a newborn baby in your arms, you may be wondering if you will ever feel normal again. It seems like all you do these days is feed, change, and rock a tiny baby that cries a lot. You’re exhausted from lack of sleep and your body is achy. You stay in pajamas all day and don’t talk to another adult until your partner comes home from work. Sweet mama, you may feel so alone. I felt that way as a new mom. I craved connection but I was scared to leave the house.
Life with a new baby doesn’t have to feel so isolated. At Mountaintop Church, we are passionate about partnering with parents from day one. Through my connections at Mountaintop Church, I have seen that we do not have to do life alone. Even with a young baby, we can be part of a community that encourages parents. This post is the second in the Present Parenting series presented by Mountaintop Church. We are partnering with Babypalooza to navigate parenting together in way that lets us stay present and find joy in our days. Caring for yourself by avoiding isolation is one way to stay present and joyful during those long days when the baby won’t nap and those bottles won’t wash themselves!
A Time to Stay Home
When you first bring your newborn home, you stay home to recover and adjust to life with your precious baby. The Post-Partum Practice of Lying In gives your body a chance to heal and let’s you connect with this new life in your care. You need to snuggle up with your little one. You need to wear your comfy clothes, get used to nursing bras, and just rest in the privacy of your own home. Staying home for the first few weeks gives you the grace you need to learn about your new baby. You and your baby will get used to each other. A routine will develop. Things that seemed so difficult in those first few days like feeding will become second nature. You can nap when the baby naps. Time at home with a new child is a time to be treasured. There is great value and purpose in that time.
However, many moms, especially first-time moms, get stuck at home and don’t get out even after several weeks postpartum. Humans are not designed to live life alone and staying home with a baby can leave moms disconnected from the world in which they were very much connected before childbirth.
Shake Off Your Fears
Leaving home with a newborn, especially your first child, is daunting. You are not comfortable with the car seat yet. It is intimidating to nurse a child in public for the first time. You worry about diaper blowouts. How many diapers and extra outfits should you pack? What if your baby starts crying uncontrollably? We can shake off our fears! The only way to get used to taking your baby out in public is to take your baby out in public. Come up with solutions to all your fears. If you are worried about nursing in public, nurse before you leave and have a nursing scarf ready to wear. If you are making bottles, measure your formula and have extra bottled water with you to mix it up. Pack more diapers than you think you will need. You cannot control when and where your baby cries, so go places where it won’t matter. Skip the quiet section in the library or the movie theater and go somewhere where quiet is not expected.
Five Easy Ways to Get Out of the House with a New Baby
1. Get Some Fresh Air – Getting outside is good for you and good for your baby! Mamas don’t need to run a marathon to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors. Just taking baby out for a walk in your neighborhood has huge benefits. Soak up some Vitamin D from the sun. Being out in the light will improve your mood. Getting outside improves concentration and your baby will benefit from all the new experiences in the outdoors. Source: A Prescription for Better Health: Go Alfresco
2. Connect with Friends You Can Trust – One of the biggest focuses at Mountaintop Church is small groups. These groups are place to connect with people with similar interest – like other moms. I have seen firsthand how valuable and life-giving gathering together in groups can be. Moms benefit from having mom friends. You need friends to reach out to for advice and you need to know their advice will support you in your mission of being present in your parenting. Mountaintop Church has small groups designed just for parents. There are groups for moms with newborns, moms with young children, moms raising boys, there is even a group for single moms. With complimentary childcare you can drop your baby and any older children off and just enjoying connecting with other moms for two hours. If you want a parenting group with moms and dads together, those are available as well. Make friends that you know share your values. Make friends that you know will support you. Joining a small group that meets once a week is a great reminder to get out of the house and connect with those trusted friends. I meet with two groups weekly and I can tell you, without a doubt, that I am a better mom because of those groups of friends.
3. Join a Family Friendly Church – Once you are comfortable with your child being in a group setting in public, take your family to church. In my experience I’ve found church to be a place that welcomes families with open arms. It can make a huge difference when your child knows that God loves him from a young age. Getting out with your baby to go to a family friendly church will encourage you all throughout the week. Every week, families at Mountaintop Church are able to connect with their friends, hear an uplifting message, and learn about how life really is better with Jesus in a safe and comfortable environment.
The family is the heart of the church. You can come as you are. No need to dress everyone up. Children are honored in our community. Your baby will be welcomed in “The Treehouse,” the ministry for infants through preschoolers. The nursery is well staffed with loving, carefully chosen volunteers who are passionate about showing your child the love of God while keeping them safe and happy so you can enjoy service. All your worries about leaving home will be alleviated here. Pack a diaper bag, let someone else hold your sweet baby for a little while and know that your entire family is welcome here every week no matter how tired you are!
4. Find Public Places Where you are Comfortable – Don’t go anywhere unless you feel comfortable or safe. This may mean your first few outings are to a close friend’s home. A busy park may be a good place to start. You can see other moms out and about. If crowds make you nervous, skip large community events. The key to building your confidence in leaving home is to take steps as you feel up to taking them.
5. Treat Yourself – Where is the one place that you love to stop by for a treat? Do you have a favorite coffee shop that serves a latte you just dream about? Is that bakery around the corner calling your name? Maybe you crave time wandering the aisles at Target. New moms pour all their energy into their babies. You can take your baby with you to your happy place and enjoy your favorite treat as a lovely way to get out of the house.
Connection over Isolation
Your home is your refuge. You will spend most of your time at home with a newborn but getting out is crucial to your well-being. Belonging to a community makes parenting a little less challenging. Share life with other people. We need a friend we can call when we feel like we can’t take another sleepless night. We need fresh air and sunshine. We need to allow ourselves to be welcomed and loved by others. God designed us to live together. It is only when we are in community that we can truly experience the love that God has for us. We belong to one another. As moms, we need to know that we are not alone. Make a plan to get out and connect. Fight the urge to stay isolated. Don’t hibernate with your baby for too long. As a mom of a child who is now almost six, I can say that becoming friends with other moms is a very empowering and inspiring experience. Get out into this beautiful state we live in. Connect with your neighbors. Come worship with us at Mountaintop Church. In this place of belonging, you will find more joy than you can imagine and that will allow you to stay present as a parent.
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