5 Things That Every New Parent Should Consider
Becoming a parent for the first time is life-altering and you probably already know that. It can be physically and mentally intense, which is why you have to work out how to navigate this major life transition on little sleep.
Without the benefit of experience, you’ll learn to adjust. As time passes, your confidence will grow, your stretch of sleep at night will expand, and you’ll start thinking about what it will be like to have number two. And, as you can imagine, there’s a lot to think about when you’re a new parent and here are five things that you should consider.
1. Everyone’s an expert and you’re a noob
Consider yourself warned. On every topic, be it feeding, sleeping, wrapping, carrying, tummy time or playing, everyone (including those without kids) is an expert and you know nothing about your own child.
Just when you think you’ve got it down pat someone will chime in with their opinion or you’ll read some contradictory evidence that tells you that you’re doing it all wrong.
Relax. Try a few things and discover what works best for your family. As long as you’re not doing your baby any harm, this is usually the best way to go. Nobody knows your child better than yourself.
2. You will worry
Yes, you think, obviously, I’ll worry. No, you don’t understand. When you give birth to a baby you give birth to a big fat hairy worry monster as well. “What if she chokes in her sleep?”, “What if she never sleeps again?”, “What if she stops feeding on my breast?”, “What if my friend visits and she has a cold?”, “What if I don’t read to her enough?”...the list goes on.
Over time you’ll slowly start to learn to slay the worry beast but for the most part, you’ll have to get used to it. You’ll always worry now you’re a parent, so try your best to accept it and move past it. If you let it get the better of you you’ll find it harder to see the beauty in parenting.
3. Your relationship will change
Lifestyle changes naturally occur when having a baby. You must contend with less freedom and less time together as a couple and this can be challenging to work through. It can be overwhelming at times.
When you’re both sleep deprived, (there’s a good explanation of how this affects your health on Sleeping Culture),trying to get forty winks sounds so much better than sex. When you’re faced with more everyday decisions you have more to disagree about. When you’re both all about your new baby there’s more chance of jealousy in the relationship.
But having a baby can also make your relationship closer and your connection as a couple deeper. Open communication will assist with this, helping you to both feel heard, understood and supported. Your partner isn’t a mind reader, so talk through your frustrations, fears, happiness, and joy. This will make you more accepting of the changes.
4. Your parents might not want to be at your disposal
There is something incredibly special about the bond between grandparents and grandchildren and the relationship goes far beyond fresh cookies and free babysitting. There are a ton of benefits associated with time spent with grandparents and the benefits work both ways. Research suggests that grandparents who watch their grandchildren add an average of five years to their lives.
But, the benefits of the grandparent and grandchild relationship aside, it’s important to remember that your parents or in-laws might not want to be at your beck and call. The Empty Nesters Report investigated the shifting attitudes and concerns affecting Australia’s over 50’s, here’s what they found:
That said, nearly one in three empty nesters felt facing their children leaving home harder than expected, with 18% of empty nesters feeling lonely. 59% also see having less frequent contact with children as a con of an empty nest.
The takeaway? Your parents, in-laws, and children will greatly benefit from a regular contact in each other’s lives but that doesn’t mean they want to be there for everything. Respect their time and let them decide how much time is spent grandparenting.
5. You’ll still get congratulated on being pregnant
Post-baby bodies don’t shrink down in size overnight. It takes time for your body to fully recover from carrying a baby for nine months. Six months on you might still have a tummy that’s squishier and rounder than you would have expected but that’s okay. Your womb alone takes four weeks to contract to its pre-pregnancy size and your baby is your current priority, not the gym. Patience is the key.
That said, if you don’t want people to start asking about when your next baby is due, there are things you can do. Breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day and as well as provide the best food source for your child, breastfeeding is a great way to lose weight in the months after pregnancy. Eat healthy (you need your energy so don’t diet) and engage in gentle exercise or a light stroll with your kids whenever you can - they can join on the scooter or hoverboard if they refuse to walk!
Settling into your new role
As a new parent, you will rise to challenges you never thought you could defeat. You’ll battle the bosses of teething, feeding, tiredness, and worry and while you may lose your footing a little along the way you’ll have an amazing little sidekick to travel the road with you. Parenting is tough, messy and terrifying at times, but it’s the most important job in the world and the best experience you’ll ever have.