As first time parents, adjusting to your new baby and everything that comes with that season of life is beyond difficult. I remember back to when our first baby was born (she’s 6 now), and the overwhelming feelings that came with it. We were now responsible for this little tiny human being. We were her means to life. The ones who would feed her and clothe her, and who would raise her to (hopefully) be a decent human being. The weight of the responsibility is unnerving.
Those first few months as new parents are challenging to say the least. Now that we’ve added 3 children to our family, I have a few tips in my back pocket that have helped us in those first few weeks adjusting to a new baby.
10 Tips for first-time parents
1. Lower your expectations
You just delivered a baby!! Whether you delivered vaginally, or had a c-section, you are a bad-ass momma and you
deserve need to rest! Lowering your expectation for yourself, and for your husband during this time is okay, and recommended. It’s okay if the dishes don’t get done today, and it’s okay if your husband puts the diaper on backwards (true story). This won’t last forever, and you are both adjusting to having a new tiny person in your family. Give yourself grace and time to adjust.
2. Don’t worry about a schedule (yet)
When my first baby was born, I thought that if I didn’t have a schedule from day 1 that we would be forever doomed to a life of chaos. I thought that if I slacked on the housework, or if my baby didn’t nap that I would be starring on the next episode of hoarders, or my baby would never learn to sleep and I would be a walking zombie for the rest of my life. Now that we have gone through the newborn stage three times, I can tell you this is completely not true. You will sleep again, and you will have time to do all the other things that need to get done. It may not happen as soon as you would like, but it will happen.
3. It’s okay to not have all the answers
Babies have a way of storming into your life and shaking things up. Everything you thought you knew about raising kids gets thrown out the window. Before I had kids I would watch other parents and say, “Oh I’ll never do that when I have kids”, or “my kids will never behave like that”. It took a while (like until my baby was into the toddler years) before I realized I was soooo wrong. My kids do behave like that, and I still don’t know what I ‘m doing most of the time. And that’s okay. That is what this journey is all about. I think it’s God’s way of breaking down our pride and teaching us patience. It’s okay if you mess up. Trust me, I have messed up far too many times to count.
4. Rest when your baby sleeps
I hated hearing this when I had my first baby. I thought, how am I supposed to sleep when there’s so much to do!! (see #1) And even though I was exhausted, I just couldn’t fall asleep during the day. That’s why I titled this Rest when your baby sleeps. If you can sleep, then by all means sleep, but if you’re like me, then read a book, relax in the shower or bath, or peruse through my other blog posts… like this one 😉
5. Trust your motherly intuition
I have so many friends and family who gave me wonderful advice about raising children, and about how to get through the baby stage. I am a firm believer that it takes a village to raise children, and part of that is gleaning valuable insight from other parents who have been through the trenches before you. However, you know your baby and your family best, so take the advice you are given and tweak it to fit your family. And if something doesn’t seem right, trust your gut!
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When a new baby is born, everybody is excited and will want to meet your baby and get some baby snuggles. Most people, especially those without kids, don’t realize that you just want to sit and snuggle your baby instead of worrying about what to cook for dinner. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t feel guilty when you do. Your family and friends will most likely be very happy, and even want to help in any way they can.
Not sure what to ask for help with? Here are a few ideas…
- Help fold laundry while you sit and visit
- Bring you a meal when they come over to meet the baby
- Drive older kids to school
- Watch the baby while you nap
- Take you out of the house (cabin fever is a real thing)
- Pick up a few things from the grocery store
- Take the dog for a walk
- Make you a cup of coffee/tea
- Just listen. Often just having someone listen to you talk about your day can help so much.
7. Ask your husband for help
Most men don’t have a whole lot of experience with babies, and even if they do, it’s not the same when it’s your own baby. Talk about your expectations for each other, and tell him in plain english what things you need him to help with. Over here, my Mr. can change a mean diaper, he always brings me a glass of water when I’m nursing the baby, and he does the dishes every night after dinner. It didn’t all start out that way, but after many *ahem* ‘discussions’, we have polished our system of routines, and he knows just how to help out.
I truly believe that you learn who your true friends are when you go through any major changes in life. Moving away, having a baby, or getting married are the big events that pop into my mind. Your life changes, priorities shift, and friends come and go along with that. Along our journey, I have had many friends come into my life at just the perfect time. Friends who were in the same stage of life, who understood exactly what I was going through. Friends who had been there in the past and could offer useful advice. And friends who stood by my side no matter what, and carried me through some of the most difficult times in my life. Find your people and stick to them. Sometimes that means letting go of those who once played a big role in your life, but you find yourselves growing apart. That’s okay too. Life is wildly unpredictable and having true friends who get you is so important to keep you going when life gets messy.
Making friends as an adult is hard, and finding people who you actually want to be friends with is even harder. If you’re struggling to find friends in this stage of life, here are a few places you can check out. And who knows, you might just meet your new BFF… or your child’s BFF, which is even better!
- Mommy Groups: Check out local churches, libraries, health centers, or Facebook groups to find mommy groups
- Fitness classes: Kill 2 birds with one stone! Get a good workout in and maybe meet a friend or two 🙂
- Friends of friends: Talk to your friends, and chances are they know someone else who had a baby close to the same time as you, or they might have older kids and you can learn a lot from them!
9. Purple Crying
Say whaaat?? This is a new-ish term (as in not what your momma called it), that describes the first few months of your babies life when they might cry for what feels like all day, every day, for absolutely no apparent reason at all. You’ve fed and changed your baby, they are not in pain, and yet they are still crying. This is what many people refer to as ‘colic’. You can read more info about it here.
The most important thing to know here is that you are not alone, and it is okay (recommended even) to put your baby down in a safe place, and give yourself some time to just breathe and calm down. Call a friend or family member if you need to talk. I remember calling my mom in tears when Miss A. wouldn’t stop crying, and I was at the end of my rope. Just knowing that my mom was there to listen and encourage me was enough to get my mind in the right place so I could carry on until my husband got home. It’s hard. Really hard. Just know that you are not alone, and this is not uncommon.
I feel it’s important to mention that if you are ever feeling out of control, or an intense feeling of overwhelm, please seek help. Talk to your doctor about it, because there are things they can do to help you.
10. Don’t get caught up in comparison
Every baby and parent is different. The way you parent will be different to the way your friend parents. And EVERY baby is different, so what works on one kid may not work with the next. I love talking with other parents about what works for them when it comes to parenting, but it’s easy to get caught up in comparing your children to one another. It’s also easy to start comparing yourself to your friends when all you see is their best moments on social media.
Don’t do that.
It’s not fair to you, and it’s not fair to your child. Nobody is perfect, and we all struggle with something. Remember, you are exactly what your child needs, and you are enough. Period.
I hope you find these tips helpful as you navigate through this new stage of life. Know that you are never alone, and if there is something you are struggling with, chances are someone else has struggled with the exact same thing.
Congrats on your newest member of your family!