Being a new parent is the most difficult, yet most important and satisfying work you will ever do. I remember doing all the research before our child was born, reading all the parenting books and articles that I could get my hands on and asking friends with kids for their advice. Unfortunately you only really understand and absorb this information when you are going through it yourself. Here are some practical tips on how to survive the early weeks with the new baby:
Get the house and the nursery ready before you bring the baby home. You will not have a lot of spare time in the first few weeks, so it will help you both if everything is prepared. If you are renovating or adding on another room make sure this is complete long before you bring the baby home.
Get as much rest as possible. Sleep when the baby sleeps, and moms and dads take turns sleeping late on weekend mornings. When you aren’t sleeping use that time to relax, read or watch daytime TV. I remember catching up on all the books I had been waiting to read and paging through many a magazine while my baby was sleeping.
Eat nutritious meals. If a neighbour or friend offers to help, ask him or her to bring you dinner or do your grocery shopping. Also, stay hydrated and drink fluids throughout the day.
Get linked with other parents. You can share ideas, concerns and experiences. It is good to know that you are not the only ones who may be struggling. You can encourage each other when the times are tough and also celebrate together when things go well.
Don’t expect too much from yourself. Housework won’t always get done, but eventually you will get back to a routine.
Call your doctor or clinic with any questions or concerns you may have. This will save you from needless worry.
Try and do some light exercise as soon as you can. It will help relieve some of the tension you may feel and help you to sleep. Take your baby in the pram and make it a family affair.
Visitors can be helpful, but don’t let them interrupt your rest or your family time together. If you are tired don’t be shy to ask them to come back on another day.
Dads: don’t let mothers have all the fun. Spend lots of time caring for and playing with your baby. The rewards are great!
It’s important to ask for help when you need it. This could be family, friends or neighbours. Don’t be shy about this. Many people are happy to help and are just waiting for you to ask.
Take time for yourself after the baby arrives. It may take several weeks for you to settle into a new schedule, however when you finally do, that’s the perfect time to find a sitter and take a break.
Set up a good bedtime routine as soon as you can. Set a time for feeding and giving baths; stick to it every night.
If you have older children, be sure to let them know every day that you love them.
Start a memory book. It is a good record of your child’s early years. You can use a scrapbook or a notebook with blank pages. Write down all the great -firsts for your baby. Things like the first time they smile, sit up, crawl, walk, talk or do anything special. Put in photos of your baby at various stages and later add pictures that they have drawn. You and your children can enjoy it together as they grow up.
Enjoy every single moment and embrace your new role as parents. There will be crying, lack of sleep, highs, lows, laughs and many joyful moments – embrace them all. It won’t last forever and one day you want to look back on these times and say to yourself -I made the most of my child’s life and I have no regrets .