So, your little one is here. Congratulations! Welcome to the world of parenting. No doubt, you’ve got a mixture of emotions going on. It’s absolutely wonderful and new, and exhausting and overwhelming all at the same time. But rest assured, you’re doing great – even if you feel like you’re not.
- Learning to dad – poop, postnatal depression and the silver linings
- Why won’t baby stop crying?
- Surviving birth – for first-time dads
At this stage, you’ll be experiencing all kinds of changes (welcome changes, and not-so-welcome ones). You might be coming to terms with a body that doesn’t quite work or look the way it did 12 months ago, or feeling disappointed by a birth that didn’t go to plan. You might be trying to get used to drinking cold coffee or arriving an hour late for every appointment or outing. Whether your baby sleeps like an angel, or you’re up every two hours – there’s a lot going on right now.
I am a Family Coach, a mum and a grandma, and I’d love to share a few thoughts with you as you step into this new chapter of your family’s life. Here are a few things I have come to know.
Babies cry – a lot
One of the surprises that parents can have is that babies can cry – they can cry a lot. This can leave you feeling anxious and stressed as you deal with their distress. It takes time to get to know your baby and work out what the cries mean. Be gentle on yourself. You may have done heaps of reading, but this is different because this is your baby. Give yourself time to work it out.
Things will change
You have been tired now for weeks and it will feel like nothing will change. But it does. And so many things become more familiar and you find that the season doesn’t really last that long. You only get to know that over time. Remind yourself that this is not forever.
Remember too that what you’re doing when you gaze at your baby, sing and talk to them and take them from room to room with you, is building the foundations of their ability to love and trust others. It’s setting them up for successful relationships. Learning to love your baby and be settled with them is incredibly important and parents don’t hear that enough.
You can over-read
There’s so much information out there that it’s tempting to want to get everything in order. The trouble is, so much of the information you read or the advice you’re given is conflicting. It’s unsettling and in the end, you can actually lose a bit of confidence in yourself. I love how one mum found a way to be more relaxed around getting it perfect. She decided to adopt an 80-20 rule. 80 percent of the time she tried to follow the rules and 20 percent of the time she just relaxed and did whatever was needed at the time without worrying about what habits were being formed.
If you want information, wait until you’re ready and then hunt it down. Read and research and ask around. Listen to yourself first and then go to the people you feel safe around. Watch for people who insist their way is the best. Go for people who encourage you and help you feel you can do it.
Your coffee/anti-natal group can be a life-saver
And it can also throw yourself into comparing yourself and your baby with others babies. That can leave you swinging between, “All is well, my baby is ahead, advanced and gifted,” to, “I am the only one with a baby that does not like solids. What am I doing wrong?” The trick is to not compare yourself with others – and that’s easier said than done!
Say yes or be specific if you get an offer of practical help
A meal, someone to watch over baby while you go to the dentist. Let others do the vacuuming, shopping and taking baby for a walk. Harness the energy that’s being offered your way.
Your needs vs. baby’s needs – you’re not selfish
Wow, how to find the balance? The truth is that you need to take care of yourself so that you’re in a good position to take care of your baby and significant relationships. It’s not selfish to rest, eat well, take time for good friends, and have breaks and breathers. Loving yourself is also loving your baby. Having a baby is certainly about sacrifice. Many things have been put on hold – and plenty of these things can go unrecognised, like your career, your time, your body and your control.
It’s okay to have boundaries about visitors, to ask people to visit at certain times and to take the time you need at home before saying yes to outings and commitments. It really is both, taking care of yourself and investing wholeheartedly in this wee baby. The balance is really important and it won’t help if you have the brakes on either yourself or the baby.
Your family will never be the same again. You will reach highs and lows of never before feelings. Welcoming a baby into the family is a life-changer – and it needs input and care towards yourself. Take all the good and the help you can. Be kind and gentle on yourself as you navigate this brand new territory of including a baby into your family.
Begin your parenting journey with Space
Welcoming a brand new little person into your whānau is both wonderful and challenging as you adjust to a whole lot of ‘new’ – new routines, new responsibilities, and a new, precious someone to know and love. We also know that the first 1000 days of a baby’s life are super important – especially when it comes to the very special connection between babies and their primary caregivers. So we’re passionate about supporting you and your whānau right from day one through Space for you and your baby.