Thought to be the day when post-Christmas blues, January financial struggles and miserable weather lead us to feel lower than usual, Blue Monday (16th January 2023) is fast approaching. Which is why we’ve spoken to three experts – in baby sleep, routine and nutrition – to help parents navigate three areas that can sometime be tricky to figure out in those first few months and years as a new parent, yet might make a huge difference to how you’re feeling, this Blue Monday and going forward.
“When we have babies, our schedules go all over the place. At the beginning you just have to do what you need to do and it’s very common for sleep to go a bit strange. You might follow your babies schedule and 'sleep when baby sleeps' which seems logical but unfortunately once baby starts to sleep through the night you might not break your own cycle and can end up having very broken sleep at night. If this happens, try waking up at a consistent wake time, every day. It’s easy when you're tired to want to sleep in or go back to bed, but the best thing you can do - even if you've had a terrible night - is to still get up at the same time every single day. This is especially important when you're trying to get yourself out of broken sleep.
Secondly, you should give yourself permission to go to sleep later if you're not feeling sleepy. If you get into bed early for the sake of it you can actually end up causing added anxiety and stress, as you start to worry about not being able to get to sleep. That in turn affects the chemicals in your brain which means you won’t end up in the right physiological state to sleep. Doing those two things, you're going to be reducing your sleep window - which is a good thing. Although it may seem scary to think that you're not getting that much sleep, by doing that you're forcing your brain to fill in the gaps during the night. And over time you'll start to fall asleep earlier and will feel more refreshed in the morning because your brain will start to get used to that wake-up time. Certain things can help with this protocol. Light exposure (natural or artificial) and exercise early in the morning can be seriously powerful when you are fatigued. It’s often our behaviour that makes poor sleep worse, so power through and get up, be exposed to light, move your body, see friends, eat well, take on your daily responsibilities etc and in the long run it's going to help you to avoid chronic fatigue.
Sleeping problems are normal when you're a new parent/parent, however you can avoid it from getting worse by doing these things. As a parent, remind yourself you're doing a good job and it's normal to feel tired and for sleep to go up and down. If you are struggling, reach out to a sleep expert or GP."--
“When caring for a baby it can feel as if their needs change rapidly through the different ages and stages. Although you should never feel pressured to have a strict routine it can also be reassuring to have a flexible and gentle structure to the day (and night!) so that you can anticipate what is going to be happening. This can be as simple as anchoring the day with a set wake up time or a lovely wind- down bedtime routine that includes a bath, books and cuddles. For a baby aged 12 weeks + this can really help to set their body clock and establish some consistency to your days which in turn can help you feel settled.”
“In my opinion as a personal trainer, nutrition coach and mum of 3 parents have a very important and powerful role to play in children’s nutrition. Children will being influenced by your choices, your behaviour around how you eat, what you eat and the environment you eat in. You are their role model. Parents should encourage their children to cook and prepare their meals together, as this will encourage them to eat better, be more aware of that they are eating, have good behaviour at the table, and make better food choices. Parents eating colourful healthy foods in a variety will influence their children to eat in this way too.”
The three simple ingredients to help make this blue Monday a little less gloomy are sleep, routine and nutrition, often serving as the bedrock of raising a happy, healthy child. The more you can keep things regular, structured and supportive in those early months and years, the better equipped you'll be to continue on this path through infancy, childhood and into adulthood. The first step is finding what works for you. Try out different things and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Loved ones and friends are usually very willing to assist if they can. It's important to remember that being a new parent isn't easy, but if you take care of yourself physically and mentally, your mind and body will keep going strong this Blue Monday, through many more adventures and beyond.
Products to give a helping hand
Bathing & Changing
Feeding & Weaning