Okay, so you just had your baby (or babies).  The hospital is in the rear view mirror.  The baby seat has been successfully installed.  Now what?  You are about to head out on the grand marathon that is parenthood, but how should you leave the starting line for that first mile?  Should you sprint out of the gates and shout, “look at me, I’m Super Mom!” or should you pretend that you are a Kenyan marathon expert and set a nice steady pace?  It’s all up to you, but here are a few thoughts on what to do with the first two weeks when you get home.

Sleep when your baby sleeps

This is really, really hard.  As soon as you get home, you’ll starting thinking about things to do.  Mail out the birth announcements, cooking, opening presents, writing thank you notes, returning phone calls and emails.  Whew!  You might want your baby to sleep longer so you can get more accomplished.

Here’s a quick dose of reality.  You are so excited and think you have all of this energy, but really you are a sleep deprived person filled with adrenaline.  The best thing you can do is SLEEP WHEN YOUR BABY SLEEPS.  This bears repeating.  SLEEP WHEN YOUR BABY SLEEPS.  You don’t want to miss out on anything or fall behind on some tasks, but remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.  Don’t try to return those phone calls or emails, don’t worry about getting those thank you notes written.  The world will be waiting for you when you are ready, and you’ll find that you haven’t missed much.  Take your time, be with your baby.

For those of you who like to exercise an added word of advice.  Be sure to check with your doctor before doing any major exercise.  You really shouldn’t exercise for 4 weeks (and it might be about 8 weeks if you have a c-section).  If you’re thinking about when you’re going to workout next, you’re not thinking about other important baby-related things or simply resting and recovering.  So just let that go, for at least 4 weeks.  You will get your body back, you will fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans if you work out and eat well, but you don’t have to do all that in the first few months.  It’s not a contest.  Take the time to bond with your baby and get used to your new life.  Let it go.  The roads, the gym and the pool will all be there when you are ready.

Don’t Run on an Empty Tank

However you choose to do it, make sure that you have healthy food in your home, ready to heat.  If you friends or family members stocked your freezer, that’s great.  You can easily lose track of what and when you last ate and suddenly you’ll be famished, so you’ll grab for anything nearby.  Grabbing something in haste will most likely not be very healthy, satisfying or give you the energy you need.  Sure, it will make you feel good for a bit, and then you’ll crash from the sugar high and you’ll be ravenous again.

Don’t Think about the Sink

Unless you love loading and unloading your dishwasher, if you even have a dishwasher, consider using paper goods during the first few weeks.  Not having to rinse things out in the sink can save you much-needed time.  It’s not the most environmentally thoughtful advice, but it’s short-term.  Having healthy food that can be prepared and cleaned up quickly enables enable you to be both efficient and energetic

Remember, a little organization and preparation can go a long way in helping any new parent feel more in control, more successful and, in the end, a little more sane.