Take Care: Being a New Parent is Hard Work

For the past nine months, it’s been all about you. What to expect when you’re expecting. (And that’s for both parents.) How do you feel? Are you ready to be a Mom? A Dad? A parent? You should do this, or that, before the baby comes...and on and on. But now that your little one has arrived, the focus has shifted and you’re kind of left to fend for yourselves. Everyone naturally gravitates toward the baby; new and small and cute, who could resist? But you need to take care of yourself now, maybe even better than before. You’ve got someone else depending on you, and some self-care is the next order of business.

Yes, Please & Thank You!

It’s okay to take folks up on their offer to help. A friend wants to organize a plan to drop off dinner for a few days? Absolutely. Another offers to sit with the baby while you take a shower and a walk? Of course. You don’t need to do everything, and letting friends lend a hand helps them to be part of your new life as a parent. Accept graciously and pass the kindness on at a later date.

Shhh, We’re Napping

Babies sleep on their own schedules in the beginning. An hour here and there, and totally different times tomorrow. Embrace your inner baby. When the baby sleeps, take advantage of the opportunity to rest. Laundry, dishes and messy-house chores can wait. Nap, if you like, or read a book, listen to music or meditate. Do whatever relaxes you to recharge your batteries.

It’s My Way, or...Your Way

Remember, there’s no one right way to do most things. As parents, you may not choose to diaper the baby the same way, and you may swaddle the baby differently, and that’s perfectly okay. Try not to stress out about the differences and appreciate the end result: happy, dry, content baby. You both want the same thing; you may just choose different paths to get there.

Just Go

It doesn’t have to be far, and it doesn’t have to be long, but go. For a walk. To the movies. To the coffee shop. Give each other a break and head out for a bit. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, and a change of scenery can do wonders. Giving yourself a breather also gives the other parent, or grandparent, or friend, etc. the chance to bond with your little one and be part of your extended family.

Just Ask: Can You Help Me?

Back in the day, parenting was a little easier, because extended families were commonplace, and chances are, you weren’t that far away from your folks. Modern society has us taking jobs and moving around the world far easier than our grandparents could have dreamed. While we may have learned by observation in the past, today we’re required to be a bit more proactive. Got a question? There’s YouTube. And, of course you can google it, but you can also call on the pediatrician you’ve partnered with for the next 18 years. If you aren’t sure what to do next, call the office. All of our doctors are parents that have been in your shoes, and they really are happy to help. There are no dumb questions, just opportunities to learn something new. And sometimes we just need some affirmation that we’re doing it right.

Parenting is a learned skill, and like anything else, it gets easier with practice. As the parent of a newborn, allow yourself the grace to learn as you go, ask for help when you need it, and realize that tomorrow is a whole new day to do your best. Take good care; you’ll be just fine.