What a moment in time to be in isolation with a baby! For those of us in Canada right now, the COVID 19 crisis means that we must practice social distancing, or as I prefer to say, physical distancing and social solidarity. For the newest of new parents with a newborn or baby under the age of 1....oh my! I feel for you. So many thoughts must be wandering through your head right now. "Will we stay healthy?" "What kind of future lies ahead for my child," "How will I survive another day, week, month trapped in my house with this small creature of my creation?!"
Personally, I think one of the most challenging moments is the 5-10 month range of age. These babies are changing in their needs every week; you are introducing solid foods, sleeping and nap schedules are often changing, baby is wanting to start to move and explore in his or her environment more and more (but may not have the physical skills yet to do so with ease), they want to be "entertained" but have an extremely short attention span, they want to be on the move with you but are getting heavier to carry around. With so many challenges, much patience and support from the parents are needed.
How do you fill your days in self-isolation with these little munchkins?!! How do you keep your sanity and feel good, joyful, at peace? It’s all about keep oxytocin high (the love hormone) and keeping adrenaline on the low.
Oxytocin is often known as the "hormone of love" because it is involved with lovemaking, fertility, contractions during labor and birth and the release of milk in breastfeeding. It helps us feel good, and it triggers nurturing feelings and behaviors. Adrenaline is the "fight or flight" hormone that humans produce to help ensure survival. It keeps us on our toes and alert, but when there is too much present in our systems it can lead to feelings of stress, agitation and emotional ups and downs.
Here are my 9 best suggestions to pass the time with your little one and feel your best:
1) Practice an attitude of GRATITUDE: No matter what is happening in your life right now there is ALWAYS room for gratitude! If you are reading this and live in Canada- WE ARE BLESSED! Clean water to wash our hands as much as we want! A roof over our heads, food in our bellies. A FREEEEEE medical system. A government that is helping its people to the best of its ability. Creating a morning ritual of writing on your fridge or another visible place what you are grateful for can put you in a positive mood to start your day!
2) Music & Dance: Turn the beat up! Throw your baby in a wrap or just scoop them up in your arms and move to the music. Music and movement fuel the body & soul! I have never heard someone say that they feel worse after a good dance session (and babies love it!). Hopefully you will both be jiving and have good juju flowing after a music moment.
3) Bath time: If you are fortunate enough to have a bath tub and hot water, well this is a treat. Get in the tub with baby! Bring some containers with you, some spoons, strainers, etc. Splash & play with baby. I guarantee that 30 mins at least can easily slip by.
4) Time spent in nature: Everyone needs fresh air & sunshine (even when the world seems too scary to go outside!). Spending a moment outdoors each day will for sure do you and baby good. Breath in deeply and feel grounded to Pachamama (the earth), let the sunshine warm your body, and let the cool breeze tickle your skin.
5) Tea time: This is a TLC ritual that I particularly enjoy. Every morning upon awakening I enjoy a hot cup of tea. Taking a moment to sip something warm and soothing even while you are on the go with baby has proven benefits of keeping you well. It warms the body and warms the soul.
6) Good food: This is the time to make your favorite meals and comfort food! (Many grocery stores are delivering, so please don't head out yourself!). Plan a couple of special recipes a week. Put your baby in a "back carrier" or in a bumbo chair next to you and get to cooking.
Some of my favorite super quickies are:
-Red Lentil Dahl
-Thai peanut noodles
-Eggs to the rescue!
-Tahini freezer fudge
7) Carry your baby (on your back): Do you spend most of your days prancing around your little prince or princess? Does your child fuss anytime you put them down? THIS IS NORMAL! Babies want to be held to feel safe and protected--it is a survival mechanism! However, it sure makes it a challenge to get ANYTHING done. So, I highly recommend "Back Carrying." Check out this website to get the down low on how to keep your babies spirits high and your arms free:
Back Carrying takes a bit of practice in the beginning, but don’t get discouraged...it will all click! Try to practice the first few times when your baby (and you) are calm. Like anything new, it takes a few tries for you both to get used to it.
8)Massage: Touch is a most vital thing for all humans. It makes us feel loved and nurtured. In this moment of "no touch" with our neighbors & friends we need to fill this void somehow. Sure, a massage from a professional might sound like the best idea, but when that is not possible why not have a moment of self massage? Or a Momma/ baby combo. Julia Jones, founder of the newborn mothers collective, offers some amazing tips and tools for a positive self-massage experience: https://newbornmothers.com/blog/the-newborn-mothers-ultimate-guide-to-self-massage
Last but not least--
9) Online Sharing Circles: I know that nothing can compare to the face-to-face sharing experience, but give this a try! It has its perks. You can mute your mic or video if you little one is having a meltdown or if you need a bathroom break. It allows to you join in while staying in your PJ's comfy at home. It allows a moment to share your story and hear how other parents are coping. Every Friday morning, I host an online circle from 10 to 11 am. We will continue until May 1st 2020 (or possibly longer--fingers crossed for not too long!). Join via zoom video at zoom.us or by downloading the free app on your phone. The zoom code to join is: 779-475-4340. It's free!
Sending you all so much compassion during this challenging moment in time. Social solidarity is SO important. You are never alone--just reach out.