Being the parent of a newborn infant requires large amounts of energy and good humour. Some times this is difficult if you are feeling tired and overwhelmed by your new responsibilities as a parent. The positive aspects of being a new parent are the many rewards and precious moments as you watch your baby grow and develop.
Important Points to Remember
There are several points you need to remember:
- Parenting is a learnt skill – most parents learn on the job
- Be kind to yourself – remember you are new at being a parent
- Start each day afresh even if the day before things had been difficult
- There are lots of supports available to help you in your new role – a great place to start is the Child and Family Health Nurse, they will know what is available in your community for new parents
- Think positively, be practical and stay in touch with the outside world
- Try to retain your sense of humour.
Caring for Yourself
- Take time out each day to do something you enjoy – this may be a walk in the park, swimming or reading a book for 30 minutes
- Try to make friends with other new parents – share babysitting or cups of tea
- Try to limit the amount of housework or home maintenance you need to do (especially in the early weeks of parenthood)
- Learn some quick relaxation techniques to use when things get difficult (see below)
- Try to sleep or rest when your baby is asleep
- Take care of your physical needs by eating well and exercising regularly
- Think about the help you need around the house – list this on a piece of paper – so when people ask if they can help you have lots of things you can ask them to do
- Join a new parents group – this allows you to meet other new families in your community
- Arrange regular child care by a grandparent, friend or in council operated occasional care
- Take care to avoid heavy lifting or placing strain on your back by twisting when lifting your baby or baby equipment
- Be efficient when cooking make extra meals that can be frozen for the time when you are feeling too tired to prepare a meal
- Talk about your feelings or concerns to a sympathetic listener – this may be a friend, parent or health professional
- If you are feeling lonely or isolated ask your Child & Family Health Nurse if they can arrange a volunteer home visitor to come on a regular basis
Caring for your Partner
- Plan time together
- Arrange a night out – but don't forget to arrange the baby sitting
- If a night out isn't possible – think of activities that you can do as a family e.g. a picnic in the park, a ride on a ferry, a walk around your neighbourhood
- Identify and ask your partner about the things you can do about the house or to help with the baby – write a list and put it into action
- Find time to have a conversation together about your feelings, relationship and needs.
A Quick Relaxation Technique
- This takes only a minute or two and can save you from hours of stress
- Breathe out with a long sigh, dropping your shoulders as you do so
- Relax your face, unclenching your jaw. Become aware of your facial muscles, eyes and forehead, and try to relax them
- Keep your breathing easy and quiet.
Repeat this technique again, and as often as you feel is necessary
Adapted from Fowler, C & Gornall, P 2001 How to stay sane in your baby's first year, 3rd ed., Simon & Schuster, Sydney.