Sometimes, despite our best efforts and intentions, parents get frustrated. Frustrated with work, frustrated with relationships, frustrated with the kids, frustrated with bills, frustrated with life. If you add a crying baby into that mix, you’ve got a recipe for frustration disaster.
Some tips for staying sane when your fussy baby is driving you completely crazy…
1. The sooner you learn to spot your limits, the easier it will be to make corrections. You’ll learn to plan ahead—for scheduling a break during nap times, asking for extra help when you know you’ll need it, or making a quick phone call pick-me-up to a friend or loved one. These little things can help get you in the best frame of mind to care for your baby.
2. Take a break. Easier said than done, right? You need to realize that letting your baby cry for 5 or 10 minutes is NOT going to hurt her, especially if Mommy needs a time out. If you don’t have anyone who can sit with her, just make sure she’s in a safe place, like her crib, and leave the room. Techniques like taking deep breaths, counting to ten (or a hundred), going outside on the porch, or just walking to the other end of the house for a minute, can all help you maintain your calm.
3. Reach out and seek support. If you have the opportunity, enlist help during your baby’s crankiest times of the day. Learn to say “yes” when people offer to help, and learn to ask for it, whether they offer or not! You can ask your doctor for coping strategies or seek out local or online support groups to share your feelings and discuss techniques for coping with other parents.
4. Find a mantra. Does that sound a little too ‘New Agey’ for you? It doesn’t necessarily mean anything mystical! A mantra is just a sound, word, or phrase, often repeated, to provide comfort or inspiration. If you have a crying baby, you’re probably already talking out loud anyway, so why not make it work for you? “Just breathe” “We can do this” “I love you, and you love me, and we’re going to get through this” are some of the most common. You could also hum your favorite song, or just sing-song whatever you are doing at the moment. Vocalizing can help space your breathing, and deep breathing helps maintain calm.
5. Know that it won’t last forever. Learn to take things one day at a time. Time (and biology) are on your side. There is an end to the crying, even if it’s not in sight right now. Some people choose to make themselves actualize this by marking days off on a calendar. It may seem overwhelming right now, but things will get better, and every day is another day closer to the finish line.
6. Remember: You don’t have to be perfect. No one is. Parenting doesn’t have to be perfect; it’s never about perfection. No one gets it exactly right all of the time. We’re human; we make mistakes. Instead of worrying yourself sick wondering what you’re doing wrong, try to relax and enjoy your baby when she’s not crying. Focus on the good when and where you find it. Do you love the way she snuggles into your shoulder and the way her hair smells just after her bath? Snuggle her up and inhale that sweet baby scent! Stop worrying about how soon it might be before she has another cranky baby fit, and just enjoy the moment.
7. Resist the urge to blame yourself or disparage your parenting skills or self-worth. Although you may be feeling rejected, dejected, and frustrated, it’s important that you not internalize these feelings. Exhaustion, rapidly-shifting hormones, and a fussy baby might make you feel anxious, frustrated, morose, or depressed. If you find yourself feeling depressed or worthless, or resentful, angry or indifferent towards your baby, don’t try to tough it out on your own. These can be signs of a deeper issue, and you’ll need to talk to your doctor.