Tips for New Parents
1) You are not alone. Sometimes the isolation that comes in the early days of having a new baby can be overwhelming, but even in those hours when the baby is colicky and you haven’t showered, you are not alone. There are parents all over the world experiencing the same thing, feeling alone the entire time. Now is the time to pick up the phone and call a friend, even if it’s just for a second that bit of human interaction will help support you and remind you that there is life outside the four walls of the nursery.
2) Rest when you can. I know you’ve heard it before, but seriously: sleep every single opportunity you get. Ignore the laundry, trust me it will still be there when you wake up, but the chance to get some much needed rest and restore a smidge of sanity is fleeting with a baby. Sleep will be rare for the next 18 years, you might as well stock up while you still can.
3) Ask for and accept help. New parents are often keen on proving themselves to be the “right” kind of parent, so they rush headlong into trying to accomplish everything in those first few months after their baby’s birth, but they often also find themselves exhausted and unable to do anything very well. Now is the time ask for help from your loved ones and accept it graciously when offered. Let your mother-in-law help feed and bathe the baby while you do something for yourself or accept the deliveries of food prepared by your extended community and spend the extra time showering.
4) Make noise. What I mean by that is don’t be afraid to talk in normal voices, go about your daily life, and even do some cleaning while your baby is sleeping. If you speak only in hushed tones and tip toe around the house while baby is napping, you’ll never be able to get anything done during nap time and will encourage light sleeping. I know that this seems like a counter-intuitive tip, but trust me six months from now when you’re vacuuming the living room while little Susie sleeps you’ll be glad you did it.
5) Keep the lights out. Encourage desired sleep patterns early on by keeping the lights off or dimmed when your baby wakes for her later night feedings. While it’s true for the first few months your baby will wake every 2-4 hours for feedings, you can start encouraging the type of sleep pattern that works best for your family. I know for our family, the earlier we started keeping the lights and stimuli turned off, the sooner our babies began sleeping through the night and falling asleep easier when they did wake.
Oh, there are so many other tips for new parents out there – many I’m sure you’ve read a million times in your quest for becoming the best parent possible, but honestly the single best piece of advice I can give you is treat yourself and your child with gentleness and love – there’s not much you can do wrong from there.
As an experienced and savvy mom, I’ve learned to juggle multiple things at once, and do it well at least most of the time!