Postpartum Rules of Engagement

As I stated in my previous post, I’d be writing about my postpartum rules of engagement. To learn more about what I mean exactly by “rules of engagement”, check it out my previous post.

I am an extremely analytical person. I need structure, I need rules, or I go crazy. And when I am tired, hungry, irritated, restless, etc and not on my usual routine I get more irritated and frustrated and I can start to engage in unhealthy habits like avoiding feelings through eating or being overly busy. Having rules and routines and knowing how to manage my expectations makes a huge difference in my overall feeling of calm. I can be a slave to my expectations and it just adds frustration to my life. For instance, instead of expecting this will be the night that the baby sleeps more, it is more helpful to expect that the baby will wake up swveral times and if he only wakes up once or twice I can be thankful. Expectations can be tricky things! Knowing the facts helps and setting guidelines also helps.

Let’s start with the facts.

Fact: I just had a baby.

Fact: My sleep is therefore unpredictable.

Fact: My schedule is unpredictable.

Fact: I have other people who need me.

Fact: I have needs.

Fact: We are in a pandemic.

So based on the facts, I am not in a normal everyday, predictable circumstance. This means that even if I am on top of the things I can control like my eating habits and exercise, I still am going to be coping with some yucky feelings from time to time because of being off my routine and from lack of sleep. So what to do?

Make a Plan

Here are my postpartum rules of engagement, if you will:

My mission: Take care of myself and everyone else in as calm a manner as possible, let go of expectations and practice gratitude. Help my baby learn to sleep and guide him onto a flexible routine.

My goal: Thrive in current circumstance and give myself grace because the battle IS harder right now.

When will I re-evaluate my goal? July 6, 2020.

How will I know I am succeeding? I practice self-care (get dressed presentably, bathe, read, write, move) each day even for 5 minutes. The dishes, laundry, and tidying aren’t necessarily COMPLETE but worked on. Everyone is hugged, kissed, fed, and loved. My baby is well fed and well rested. He is woken up around the same time each day and has his last feeding at the same time each day.

What are some possible obstacles and what will I do when they occur? (My if, then plans) When interruptions occur: Go back to where I was I. My routine.

If baby needs me: Delegate care to husband or go to baby.

If I am hungry, angry, lonely, tired: Eat, talk to someone, exercise or take a nap accordingly. If one or more isn’t possible, make my life easier – ask for help, get paper plates, get take out, or just try to make the things I have to do more fun. Delegate, Delete, Delight.

If I feel like emotionally eating, do it just make it a fruit and healthy protein snack.

If I feel frustrated because the house is a mess, practice self-care and then make a REALISTIC plan to get things in order.

If I am mad because I am “behind” on my routine, remind myself of my expectations: the routine is there to help and can be followed in a flexible manner according to the family’s needs.

My rules help me to be in the present moment and help my rigid mind have something to expect. If it’s time for lunch, make lunch. If it’s time for dinner, make dinner. If it’s time for winding down, wind down. Respect the boundaries of the day. They are there to promote a sense of calm and peace. Drop unfinished work and accept progress, just for now.