Survival Tips For New Parents
Deciding to become a parent is, for most of us, the most important decision of our entire lifetime! It's not just saying to the world, "We've decided to start a family," or "We have a new baby," it represents a major lifestyle change that requires a high degree of preparation and understanding on the part of both individuals.
Now that you are Mom and Dad to this beautiful new baby and realize that neither of you really knows quite what to do, respect your natural instincts! Books can help when you need technical guidance on specific issues, but don't depend on books for all the answers. If you rely too heavily on them you will end up doubting your own natural instincts and parenting capabilities!
The relationship between two people who have made the decision to become a family unit must be strong enough to weather numerous compromises. The demands of parenthood are never split 50/50, so the couple must guard against small misunderstandings that can easily become blown out of proportion and form resentment.
Try to encourage one another and be supportive of each other's needs as much as possible. Sleep deprivation alone can make a person very "grouchy," even unreasonable at times. So remember to take that into consideration if one of you is suddenly a bit hard to get along with. Hormone levels in a new mom take some time to return to "normal" post-birth, so allow for the emotional ups and downs that can bring. The baby can also sense when Mom or Dad are upset and this can make the baby cranky as well. It's a situation that can feed itself if you're not sensitive to it.
Most new parents agree that the majority of the care for the baby falls on the mother in the beginning, especially if she's breastfeeding and on maternity leave from work. Dad's responsibility when he is home is to give mom a little free time to herself and share in the responsibility as much as possible. Taking the baby for a walk is a great way to treat mom to some "alone" time. (It's a real luxury to have a little time alone in your own house.) Dad can perhaps bathe baby or just sit and hold the baby to let mom have some time with her hands free. She may choose to make dinner, to take a walk around the block or sit and stare into space. Whatever she chooses to do must be without judgement on Dad's part. New moms need some separate time to renew a sense of self.
Dad's need time off too and this is another area where women frequently feel slighted. Dad is away at work all day and Mom doesn't get a lot of time. When the weekend comes, many mom's secretly think that the weekend is "her" time because Dad will be around to help. Dad often has his own ideas of how he wishes to spend his weekend after working all week. If your partner likes to play basketball or go to the gym on the weekends, don't make him feel guilty for it. You can take an outing to the park, weather permitting, or find a gym that offers babysitting and go along. If baby is happier in a carrier, then you can take long walks together. Equal time off on the weekends is another way that many couples support one another through the early months of parenting. These are the compromises that are necessary for new parents to make.
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