The secret to parenthood is getting though those first six weeks… and then the six weeks after that. Once you’ve made it to the magical three month mark, you’ve almost certainly figured out how your baby needs to be fed and got the hang of it. Reflux will in most cases be on the way out, sanitary pads the size of nappies are in the bin, your boobs have calmed down, you’ve fallen into a routine of sorts and waking up in the night is water off a duck’s back. With a bit of luck, your baby won’t be into teething or colds just yet and you may even be able to get the buggy down without breaking a nail.
Welcome to your new normal! Phew. Life as a parent is always a learning curve but even if you have more babies, you’ll never have to go through that craziness again.
Which can mean only one thing – the moment has come to reintroduce yourself to normal life. Day still blurs into night but you know that bit between teatime and going to bed where it gets dark? Those hours when your other half appears, you eat ready meals then lie down for a few minutes before the baby starts crying? Those are called evenings. Here’s how to reclaim them.
Go out with the girls
You may not be ready to leave your baby with a babysitter but that doesn’t mean you have to stay in. If you’re in a good situation with bottles of expressed milk or formula, leave your other half in charge and get yourself to the nearest pub with your mum mates. Even if your boobs will be required at home later, make the most of the between-feed window and duck out for a spritzer, you wildchild!
Go with your squad
When babies are tiny, portable and sleepy, they can totally go out for dinner with you. If they’re going to be asleep anyway, why not? Whether it’s with a group of friends or just you and your other half, pick the right restaurant and make a night of it (ie til 9pm when you want to go to bed).
Obviously it’s impossible to predict which bedtimes will go like a dream and which will be a nightmare, so making plans is tough. But you don’t need a chaperone to go out at night, you’re a grown woman who just made a human! If you’ve got cabin fever and there’s somebody home to watch the baby, make a mucky dash for the cinema, treat yourself to dinner, whatever connects you with your pre-baby self.
When evenings at home usually involve scooping dinner into your sleepy faces by the light of the TV, the idea of a takeaway doesn’t feel like much of a treat. But all you need to turn it into date night is to sit at the kitchen table instead of on the sofa, down phones and turn the telly off. For, like, an hour obviously, let’s not go mad.
If your other half is home in the evenings, take the opportunity to grab some me-time – yoga classes, swimming, a bit of life drawing, whatever takes your fancy. When you’re in sole charge of a baby all day long, it feels good to give your brain and body break.
If you’re ready for a night out with more than one small glass of house white, planning is key. Make sure your baby is happy with expressed milk or formula from the bottle given to them by somebody who isn’t you, and that there’s plenty of it. Arrange to sleep in another room and make sure whoever is looking after the baby is signed up for night and morning duties too; it’s not safe to be around babies when you’re squiffy or hungover and to be honest, parenting is the last thing you’ll want to do anyway. You’ve earned your lie-in and your Wotsits sandwich on the futon. If you’re breastfeeding, remember to plug in and prep your breast pump wherever you’re sleeping, because sore boobs and a sore head are not a good combo.