You’ve passed the phase of nausea, pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and now you and your partner are ready to go home with your little nugget to start a new life. Once home though, you might feel like you don’t know where to begin with a small and helpless person dependent on you.
Becoming a parent can be overwhelming, especially when you get nitty gritty tips on how to get the job done from all sides, but no one warns you about the intense feeling you’re going to have about wanting your old life back, and how you will burst into tears in a split second when your baby won’t stop crying, won’t latch, or won’t go down for a nap. Or how postpartum depression hits you, but you’ve to keep it all together.
Tell anyone how you feel and you will get plenty of advice…your best friend who tells you to let your baby cry it out, but that one family member who tells you that it's not okay to let your baby cry at all. You’ll hear debates about breastfeeding vs. formula feeding and all the milestones you have to keep your eyes on.
You will face ups and downs daily. Babies are dependent on you, and raising them requires a great deal of work and tremendous energy. At times it might not be sheer bliss, but your little darling will fill your heart with so much love you didn’t know was possible.
We have compiled this handy guide for you to get you started to navigate this life-changing experience called parenthood. This list will soothe your mind, and help you grow, thrive, manage the chaos, and enjoy the journey as you embrace your role.
1. Have faith in yourself
There will be moments when you will feel like you’ve got everything together (like a total boss) and like a rookie at the same time. But you need to have faith in yourself. Because you know what? You made a person and you will successfully take care of the person you created.
All stages of parenthood come with challenges but for now, you will be acing it if you just stick to the basics like diaper changes, feedings, touching, cuddling, and lots of patience. Cherish those moments when your baby is tiny, they grow way too fast.
2. Ask for help
You’re not a super dad or a super mom. When you get overwhelmed or overtired don’t hesitate to ask for help. Whether it’s your parents, other family members, neighbors, friends, or co-workers, find someone you can rely on in times of need.
It can be as simple as looking after the baby so that you can have rest, shower, or run some errands. More than likely, you already have loved ones ready to offer help. Take them up on their offer for a much-needed recharge.
3. Learn to forgive yourself
Humans are meant to make mistakes. It’s all about trial and error. Everyone has what they think is the right way to raise a baby because that worked for them. But remember, you are the one who gave birth so that makes you the primary expert on your baby.
Find what works for you and your baby. Don’t let your parent’s or grandparents’ nostalgia for ‘how they raised their babies’ cloud your judgment. Remember that for every piece of advice you get, there is another piece of advice that is the opposite. It’s all about finding your right and seeing through it because no two babies are alike.
You know what’s best for you and your child. Do what you feel is right and toss the rest.
4. Feed your mind and your body
To be the best version of yourself, you have to take good care of your mind and body so that you can be healthy and happy to look after your new arrival. It sounds like a lot of work with a baby, but you can start slow. Consider these easy ideas
- Move under the sky for at least a few minutes every day
- Take some time out for yoga or exercise
- Practice deep breathing
- Go for a brisk walk
- Eat healthy meals – including a plant-based diet and fruits
Taking care of your body, your mind, and making healthy choices go hand and hand. You and your partner can motivate each other to start. It is a necessity that will make you the better parent you want to be.
5. Don’t feel guilty
All kinds of guilt exist, spouse guilt, and friend’s guilt, and it is okay to feel them. Learn to let go! As parents, you do your best to fulfill the needs of your baby once they’re out in the real world.
If you’re experiencing guilt the first thing you need to know is that it’s completely normal. Beating yourself up for feeling guilty will do you no good. These feelings can impact your mental health, so give yourself a break.
6. Go with the flow
Spoiler alert: things will take unexpected turns with a baby.
You have a lunch plan with your friends and your bub surprises you with a diaper explosion. You’re late to work but you can’t get your baby to stop crying. Oh, and people are coming to visit but your house is all over the place.
For someone who loves keeping things spick and span, and prefers predictably, having a baby can test your patience to the highest limits. You need to learn how to go with the flow and stop exhausting yourself with difficult standards. So what if you’re 10 minutes late to lunch? So what if your house isn’t spotless? So what if you didn’t get time to prepare dinner? Sometimes things won’t happen the way you want them to.
7. Sleep when the baby sleeps
Babies wake often, as new parents, it can be difficult to understand why infants have short sleep windows. You can’t sleep while they’re awake. Therefore, take the opportunity to sleep when they’re sleeping.
It can be tempting to stay up and do the laundry or wash the clothes when your baby is finally napping or binge-watch a show on Netflix but the opportunity to be ‘semi-rested’ is the best thing you can do for yourself. Catching up on some sleep, or simply just resting your eyes and body, should always be the number one priority.
8. Don’t forget to spend quality time with your partner
A newborn naturally takes up all your attention and we get why, they’re just so adorable!
But don’t let your significant other feel alone, they wouldn’t want to be pushed aside, it’s important to be patient and loving towards them. Make time to care for each other in the whirlwind of suddenly having a baby being completely reliant on you both.
Sit down, communicate, cuddle and have a date night every week even if it means eating takeout on the couch, and then pull your sleeves up, take deep breaths, and work through spit-ups, blowouts, crying fits, and sleepless nights as a team.
9. Know that it is challenging, but it gets easier
The first month seems never-ending because it is full of challenges that will turn anyone’s world upside down. Your life and schedule are no longer your own. You have a little human counting on you for everything.
Months 2, 3, and 4 are tough, but it gets better month after month. A Baby’s sleep schedule is more challenging than you would think, but it improves as your baby grows.
As exhausting as parenting can feel right now, remember this phase, too, will pass! Before you know it, your sweet pea will be eating and sleeping on their own, and you’ll realize that those tough days were worth it.
10. Perfect parenting doesn’t… exist
One major and relieving fact is that there is no such thing as perfect parenting. Being a parent is hard work despite what parenting blogs on Instagram will have you believe.
The reality of parenting is quite different the same way every baby is different. Take it all in, the bad, the best, and the insane moments.
Don’t forget to be gentle towards yourself, know that you are allowed to get things wrong because learning never stops.
Keep laughing! A positive attitude can lift you. And remember your best is most certainly good enough for your little family unit.
Relax, we know you’ve got this mama and papa! <3