You’ve brought your bundle has arrived. Now what?
I can remember leaving the hospital with my son. My husband and I trying to work out if we had all the car seat straps on right, wondering how can they let us out on our own with this tiny creature. We had undergone more scrutiny adopting our pets!
I’ve collected some simple tips for new parents trying to manage this exciting—and exhausting—change in their lives.
1 Give yourself a break.
You may have Pinterest boards and books full of great ideas, but adapting to having a newborn in the home can be overwhelming. Don’t sweat the small stuff. So what if you’re not keeping up with your meal prep or doing laundry every day like you planned? You don’t have to be Supermom. Cut yourself a little slack and focus on taking care of this new life you’ve brought into the world.
2 Sleep when you can.
You may have heard the suggestion to “nap when the baby does.” That’s definitely true. Your nights won’t go uninterrupted for a while, so take advantage of rest whenever you can get it. Consider taking turns with your partner—one of you can sleep in while the other gets up with the baby.
3 Ask for help.
Don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own. If you have family or friends nearby who can offer assistance, ask them. Chances are, they’d love to help.
4 Talk to other first-time parents.
You may feel like you’re the only new parents struggling, but there are plenty of other people going through the same thing. Reach out to other new parents, whether through friends or even a local support group. You can find sympathy and understanding, plus talking to people outside the house can be helpful.
5 Don’t be afraid to say no to visitors.
Your life has changed drastically, and it’s a lot to get used to. If you need some time alone, it’s okay to limit visiting, even from well-meaning close friends and family. Hosting company can be exhausting even without a newborn, so if you’re not feeling up to it, just be honest and tell someone who asks to visit that now isn’t a good time.
6 Capture the moments
As a parent, you don’t want to miss a thing, which is why taking photos is so important. A newborn session allows you to capture your child’s first days in the world and gives you something to look back on as they grow and change. And a special note to the moms out there, don't forget to be in the pictures! Go for the close up images if your body doesn't fell like your own just yet.
7 Get out of the house.
You may not be able to stray far at first, but even a daily walk around the block can ease stress and give you a much-needed boost. Plus, exposure to natural light has been thought to help infants develop regular sleep patterns, so it definitely can’t hurt!
8 Stop keeping score.
It’s great to take turns and try to divide the work evenly, but grumbling, “It’s your turn” at your partner at 3 a.m. definitely won’t make either of you happy. Try to be understanding of each other’s needs and limits and help out when you can.
9 Go with your gut.
At the end of the day, every baby and every parent are different, and you have to trust your instincts when it comes to caring for your child. The more you learn and get right, the better you’ll feel—maybe you’ll even want to do all this again someday!