This Friday, Andrew and I had our first night out since having baby Charlotte. Honestly, it was so much easier than the first time we left James, and I’m so glad we went out without the kids even if it was only for a bit.
With James, it was months before I was willing to go out. I felt gross and didn’t fit into anything so vanity was part of it but I also didn’t want to go anywhere without him and the logistics of leaving overwhelmed me. The hard part about leaving a new baby (besides the emotions) is that generally the time when you’d want to go out to dinner or a party often coincide with the witching hour, when baby is extra fussy and just wants to feed nonstop, making it hard for this exclusively breastfeeding mama to leave for long and even if you’re not, leaving a fussy baby can be super heartbreaking and crying can be enough to convince you that you shouldn’t go.
It can also be hard to trust someone else with your new little one. I definitely was resistant to leaving James with a sitter (I still am) and even our nanny at first. Lucky for us, Andrew’s parents are nearby and always willing to babysit. James loves spending time with them so it makes it much easier to leave the kids, knowing they’re in great hands.
We probably wouldn’t have gone out if we didn’t have an excuse though, mostly because we’re exhausted right now, but I’m so glad we did. We’ve snuck a few lunches with Charlotte while James has been at school, and it’s felt like a date because she’s mostly stayed asleep but it was nice to go out and socialize with other people. We had a cocktail party for James’ school so it was the perfect excuse to go out.
We always talk about the importance of date night but I think sometimes you forget how nice it can be to socialize with other people as a couple. It’s nice to chat with other parents dealing with similar things or just with adults without constantly being interrupted by your kids. I also think it reminds you why you fell for your spouse and brings you back to the pre- kids phase of your relationship.
Our night out was short lived. I had to get back to feed Charlotte but I’m glad I threw on some spanx, nipple pads and a dress and we made it. Yes I need highlights, a pedicure and eyebrow wax and I am far from in shape but honestly, no one cared and nor did I. This time, I’m going a little easier on myself and just buying things a little bigger, putting on some heavy duty concealer and getting out of the house, even if it’s a disaster and I end up crying or everyone does (which happens 9/10 times).
Even if you don’t want to leave your new little one, I’d make dates and bring them along (it’s easy when they’re little) or make dates to go for walks with friends or let friends come over even if your house is a mess and you’re exhausted and haven’t showered. It can sound stressful but socializing when you have a new baby can make this time feel so much less lonely and help you feel like a human again. I didn’t my first time around and for me, I’m so glad we have gotten out more this time around, even if it’s just for a trip to the park or to get bagels.
I know how hard it can be to feel comfortable leaving your little one, so here are some tips that helped me:
- Make it short and sweet. Start with a short escape — we chose to go to a party but agreed in advance we’d only stay for an hour/hour and a half. I would recommend trying a nearby dinner spot or grabbing ice cream or coffee for your first time leaving the baby.
- Get comfortable with whoever is watching your baby. We are lucky enough to have my in-laws close by, and I know my kiddos are in good hands with them. Plus, I love that it gives them a chance to bond with their grandparents. Some of my friends have siblings close by that they feel the same with. It helps that you’re able to spend time with your family so you can get comfortable letting them hold, change and feed your baby before leaving them alone. But I know not everyone has family nearby and even if you do, at some point, you may need to get used to someone else watching your kids, especially if you’re planning to use daycare or a nanny. We didn’t leave James with a sitter until we hired our nanny, but feeling comfortable leaving him to go back to work was hard. We carefully chose our nanny and she came with glowing recs, but I still felt like I was leaving my baby with a stranger. What really helped me get comfortable with the idea was having her come over and watch James while I was home. That way I could see how she handled him and get comfortable with her caring for him before I left them alone. If you’re uneasy about leaving your baby with a sitter, I would recommend having the sitter come watch your little one for a couple hours when you’re home first. It’s actually nice because it can free you up to get some stuff around the house, shower, etc. while getting used to the sitter and making sure you feel comfy before you go out, so when you’re out, you aren’t spending the whole time worrying about your baby.
- Invest in some Spanx. Just kidding but not totally. After my first pregnancy, I felt really uncomfortable in my body. I had gained a lot of weight with James, so nothing fit and I felt too tired and overwhelmed to start a workout routine or diet, so I basically lived in sweats and avoided socializing or leaving the house. In retrospect, it was silly and no one cared, and I should have been more gentle with myself — I had just birthed a baby for god’s sake. This time, I just don’t have the time to care and I know that getting back in shape takes time, but if I commit to it, I can, so I’m a lot less stressed. With that said, you want to feel good the first time you’re out and about, so I found it helpful to invest in some Spanx and buy a dress that fit me at the size I’m currently at. That way I was excited to wear my new dress and didn’t stress trying on a bunch of things that didn’t fit.
- Nurse before you go. I basically force fed my child for an hour straight before we went and then topped her off right before I put on my dress, so that I knew she was well fed. Charlotte tends to cluster feed at night, right at the time we were going, so I knew she’d be a bit fussy, so I really wanted to fill her up before we went. We’re still just a few weeks in so I haven’t introduced a bottle yet, but otherwise, I would have pumped and prepared a bunch of bottles for when I was out. But since we were only gone for an hour, she was fine. She fussed a bit, but we gave her a paci and she slept on her mimi and was fine until we returned home. Nursing pads though were essential for me so I didn’t leak through my dress.
- Try to have fun. I know it can be hard not to stress about the baby, but letting yourself enjoy your time and ditch the baby brain for a hot minute can be really helpful. You come home feeling refreshed and ready to stay up all night again with your little one.
Hope these tips help. I know I was a wreck the first time we left James, and it was totally fine. This time was so much easier, but I still had a pang of guilt and sadness as we left and then I felt guilty when I realized we had stayed a bit longer than planned and I hadn’t thought about my kids once. I mean I talked about them, but I didn’t once worry or feel guilty, and I’m glad because when I got back to them, I was so excited to see them and didn’t even mind when Charlotte woke me up five times in the middle of the night and then James woke up at the crack of dawn.