New child, new stressors: striving to maintain balance.
As a new parent, you’re bound to experience waves of different emotions at any given time. There will be joyful highs, moments of frustration, laughter, exhaustion, worry, and unconditional love.
Though there will be ups and downs, there’s one thing almost every parent can agree on: It’s a stressful job. No matter how joyful it is, parenting is a dramatic lifelong change that will have an impact on you from day one.
Those changes can affect your physical and mental health as well as how you view yourself. Thankfully, you can overcome those challenges by working through some of the realities of becoming a new parent. It starts with planning ahead as much as possible, but even after your little one is born, you can fight to maintain a healthy balance in your life and reduce those new stressors as much as possible.
Getting started doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Let’s talk about how to overcome some of the challenges you might be worried about.
Prepare and plan ahead
You can never prepare too much for a baby’s arrival. There is an endless supply of information available to expectant parents that will help you to better understand what your new life will look like. There are even books available to help combat issues like postpartum anxiety or depression. Learning as much as possible ahead of time can offer you peace of mind and give you a baseline of knowledge that will make it easier to stay calm once your baby is born. But, absorbing that information is only half of the preparedness battle.
Springing into action and getting things done before your child’s arrival is just as important. Take the time to prepare your home for your new baby in whatever ways you see fit. If you’re not sure where to start, dedicate some time to put together a nursery. You can find inspiration for your ideal nursery online. But, make sure it has some of the basic items your child will need, including:
- A crib, along with a mattress, protective cover, and bedding
- Diapers and wipes
- Storage baskets
- A rocking chair
Having your baby’s nursery put together and organized before they are born will reduce your stress levels once you bring them home. You can spend more time enjoying every new experience without having to search for things or feel like you’re not fully prepared.
Set realistic expectations
The old saying about being your own worst enemy is true in so many situations. Often, it’s true for new parents, too.
It’s far too easy for new parents to set unrealistic expectations for themselves. You might want everything to be “perfect.” But, it won’t be – and that’s okay. The pressure of perfection can cause anxiety and snowball into other mental health concerns.
The reality is, you’re going to need help. If you want to maintain balance in your life, understand that everything doesn’t need to be perfect. You’re likely to have family and friends who want to help you by lending a hand. When you’re feeling burnt out, reach out to them and ask for help with tasks like laundry, running errands, or making meals. Getting help with these simple tasks can take a huge weight off your shoulders.
If you know someone who just had a baby, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. New parents might not feel comfortable asking for help right away, but once that door is open, they’ll be glad to accept.
It’s been estimated that new parents lose 109 minutes of sleep each night during the first year of their child’s life. On top of that, your days might be filled with constant feedings, cleaning, meltdowns, and trying to take care of your adult responsibilities along the way.
Needless to say, it’s not uncommon for parents to think they don’t have time for themselves. But, you must make some. Practicing self-care isn’t just good for you and your mental health, but it’s good for your baby.
Parental depression can impact your child more than you realize. Some of the signs include:
- Lack of responsiveness to your child
- Inappropriate parenting behaviors
- A lack of energy to properly care for your child
When you aren’t properly taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of your family. So, find little ways to practice self-care every day. It could include going for a walk around the neighborhood early in the morning or reading your favorite book for 30 minutes before bed each night. You might even find time to take up journaling so you can write down how you’re feeling each day. Self-care is different for everyone, so make time to find what works for you.
Parenthood is all about finding balance, and sometimes you have to fight to get there. Keep these tips in mind to take better care of yourself, manage stressors, and enjoy the wonderful experiences that come with having a baby.