The Truth About Parenthood
What Every Parent and Parent-to-be Needs to Know About the Exciting (and Exhausting) Early Weeks with Baby
Wondering what you can really expect from the busy and slightly overwhelming early weeks of parenthood? Trying to get a handle on what you can do to ease the transition for yourself and your baby? Here are five parent-proven strategies for thriving as a new parent.
1. Be prepared to feel unprepared. There’s no one-size-fits-all parenting solution—and it takes time to find your parenting groove. So stop feeling like you’re woefully under-qualified for the most important job of your life—or that every other parent has his or her act together, except you. Every new parent feels uncertain and inadequate at first. The good news is that your baby is going to provide you with plenty of opportunities for on-the-job training— which means it won’t take long for you to start gaining confidence in your newfound parenting abilities.
2. Accept any and all offers of help. Parenting is a whole lot easier if you’re willing to tap into support from your parenting village. So don’t be afraid to wave the white flag and let other people in your life know what would be most helpful to you right now— perhaps a parenting pep talk over a cup of coffee or some hands-on help with dishes and laundry.
3. Understand that all babies cry and that some cry more than others. Having a baby who cries doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong. Skin-to-skin contact, white noise, and gentle, soothing movement are tried-and-true methods of calming a crying baby. But be aware that babies can be more than a little fickle. The technique that worked beautifully in soothing your baby last week might not work quite so well tonight! That’s why it’s helpful to have a variety of baby soothing techniques in your parenting repertoire: you can switch strategies based on what baby seems to want and need right now.
4. Remind yourself that you will sleep again. Most babies are sleeping through the night on a regular basis by the time they reach six months of age—something that can feel like a lifetime away if you’re a sleep-deprived new mom or dad. Fortunately, you can boost your energy in the meantime by eating well, exercising regularly, and mastering the art of the catnap. And don’t be afraid to tame your to do list— at least until both you and baby are getting a bit more sleep.
5. Pace yourself. Parenting is a marathon event, not a sprint. You’re in this thing for the long haul. Focus on
activities and relationships that are energy enhancing rather than energy draining. That way, you’ll have the physical and emotional reserves necessary to take the best possible care of yourself and your new baby and to enjoy this exciting new chapter in your life.
Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting, including The Mother of All Pregnancy Books and The Mother of All Baby Books. You can find parenting articles and videos on her website at www.having-a-baby.com.