It’s an old cliché that your world turns upside down when you have a child, but clichés are overused for a reason: They’re often correct. After having their first child, many parents strive to get back to their old routines as quickly as possible, without thinking about how they might need to change their standards and expectations to accommodate their new responsibility. The result is parents who are stressed, overburdened, and disappointed in themselves for not being able to “do it all.”
To that end, here are a few things new parents should keep in mind when considering what their lives will look like in the initial weeks after bringing baby home.
Take people up on their offers to help
After you get home, there is a good chance that well-meaning family members and friends will tell you that they’d like to bring you meals, do your laundry, or even watch the baby for a spell while you take a short nap. Customarily, people respond to such requests with some variation of, “Oh, I couldn’t put you out like that.” However, new parents should never feel like they should politely decline offers of help for two reasons. First, people like supporting others. Second, and even more important, if you’re a new parent, you’ll need the help.
Sleep when the baby sleeps
This is common advice, but it’s worth stressing just how important this is. For many, the thought of napping in 20-minute increments throughout the day seems implausible, but think of it this way: When you’re well-rested, you’re far more likely to feel in control of your situation, and you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed.
Get out of the house
It’s surprising how many people don’t do this, for various reasons. While there’s certainly something to be said for keeping your baby away from crowds, where there are likely to be an abundance of germs, staying in the house all the time can be damaging to your emotional well-being. If it’s summer, take your baby for short walks in a stroller once or twice a day. If it’s winter, go for a drive or take your baby along for short errands. Anything that gets you dressed and moving can help you feel like, slowly but surely, you’re returning to some semblance of your former life.
Take it slow
Finally, but most importantly, take your time. Say “no” to invitations if you need to, and don’t feel like you have to come up with a good excuse. Get a family member or friend to visit. If you’re a woman, don’t try to lose all the baby weight in three months. There will be time for becoming “you” again, don’t worry. As your baby grows, so will your ability to juggle all your previous interests and responsibilities.
It’s all just a matter of meeting the adjustments. It’s a fulfillment, always remember that. But the dark days are yet to come and it will require you now to change your priorities. Well, that’s part of becoming a parent. Needless to say, that’s part of the adjustment. You just need to take things slowly just like the last tip. Do not ever contain yourself in the thought that you’ll be doing this for the rest of your life. An even greater life is actually ahead of you. Once you overcome the process, you’ll see how happier it is to have such responsibilities that not all people are lucky to have.