Tense parent = tense baby.
It was amazing to really see it play out in front of my eyes. A couple weeks ago our little family was driving home from a wedding when our car broke down on the side of the interstate. After trying to restart the car a couple times we came to accept that we might be there for a while. My husband got out to inspect the issue and to help ease some stress Chubs and I got out of the car to stand further back.
My husband is a mechanic and he shortly came to the conclusion that we did not have the parts or tools to get back on the road. Luckily we have AAA and after a very long phone conversation we were told that a tow truck was in route, that it would tow us all the way to our apartment (almost 100 miles away), and that there was room for all of us. God is good.
Our baby was getting pretty heavy for this post C-section mommy to hold for that long, so although we were enjoying our time of beautiful weather and watching the sun slow drift lower and lower, I handed him off to his daddy. That is where the story really begins.
My husband was still pretty stressed because not only were his one month old baby and recovering wife stuck waiting for help to arrive, the car just got put on the top of his very long to-do list. Gradually I watched our little man start to get fussy after being super content moments ago. It escalated to the point where he was screaming while his father talked to the state patrol officer. When the tow truck made it to the scene, I finally convinced my husband to let me hold our screaming baby so he could talk to our heroes.
The craziest part was that his mood shifted again. Just as slowly as before, our little guy stopped crying and returned to his happy, content state. Seriously, it was as simple as that. I didn’t really do much other than just stand there and his fussiness dissipated.
Now, I know what you might be wondering: Cool story Abi, but what does this mean for me? Well, I’ll tell you what it means. If your little baby is being a crab for no real reason sit back and evaluate whether you might be allowing your tension to upset him. It could be a very quick, simple fix for your baby to calm down and your sanity to return.
It might sound a bit like a “chicken or the egg” situation. If my baby’s crying is making me stress and my stress is fueling his crying, where do I start?
First, I’d start by giving yourself a timeout. Put your baby down in a safe place and walk away. I do this frequently. He is not going to be damaged by crying by himself for a few minutes while I take a break and trying to relax myself.
Next, you have tons of different options:
- have a glass of wine (this is my absolute favorite!)
- do a little deep breathing
- call your mom, sister, or other person you confide in
- ask your spouse for a short massage
- really anything that will help you release some tension
Now, once you have found a happier place, pick your baby back up and try to help him relax too.
One thing that I have found recently that helps me is while my baby is sleeping I do something that I enjoy or find relaxing. Sure, I do some laundry and tidy up, but the bulk of my time while his is sleeping is spent on me. I like to spend some time reading, taking a bath, baking cookies, or just browsing Pinterest. It really helps me stay in better spirits for when my baby is awake again and may need me to help him calm down.
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