I clearly remember sitting in a rocking chair in my son’s room after I brought him home from the hospital and being so worried about him going to sleep that night. Later, as I sat there still, my mom came to check on me and through my tears I told her that I was worried about leaving him in his room that night. Fast forward to the next night. After a totally sleepless night for my husband and me, I was crying for a very different reason. Now I was crying because I was worried that none of us - my husband, my child, or me - would ever sleep again.
Let’s face it, those first few weeks and months of parenthood, no matter how joyful, are HARD. There is just no other way around it. Remember that awkward middle-school phase that everyone goes through? Think of these five struggles like that – they are something all new parents go through.
Struggle One – Life Beyond Yourself
Adjusting to life with a newborn can be such a difficult transition. Life as you knew it is totally different, and while having a newborn may be what you wanted, and even prayed for, it doesn’t make the transition any easier. Everything now takes a little more time; quick trips are a thing of the past with a newborn. And it can suddenly seem like no one cares about seeing you or checking on you – they are all focused on the baby. This is why it is SO important to make self-care a priority.
My best piece of advice is to let others help you. If someone asks to watch the baby so you can sleep or run an errand, LET THEM! Check your pride at the door and realize that it really does take a village. Taking care of your needs, as well as those of your new baby, will make your time as a new parent so much more enjoyable!
Struggle Two – The Unknown
Ever hear the phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know”? Well, it has never been truer then when you bring home a tiny new human. “Is it normal for their poop to look like that?” “Are they getting enough to eat?” “Should I be giving them a bath every day?” “Do they have cradle cap?” I could keep going, but you get the idea. I remember worrying about every little thing my son did, or didn’t, do. As a first-time parent, there are LOTS of unknowns!
It’s ok to call the pediatrician every day and ask questions. Or, call your parents and ask. Raising a child is an unknown and unfamiliar process for new parents. And while I would like to tell you it gets better as they get older, in some ways it doesn’t. Take me for example - I don’t know anything about being a parent to a four-year-old, but here I am doing it. You learn as you go!
Struggle Three – Sleep
I remember attending a pre-birth class at the hospital before my son was born. They covered a lot of information, but not much of it was about sleep. Beyond safe sleep, they offered no real advice. I had no idea that wake times for newborns were so short, or they should have a consistent place to nap and sleep. I had no idea they shouldn’t be napping longer than three hours at a time, or anything about building a healthy foundation. I didn’t read one single book about sleep and instead just figured it would work itself out.
What I know now is sleep is a learned skill and there are LOTS of things you can do to help set your family up for sleep success. This is exactly what I teach in my newborn course HERE.
Struggle Four – Feeling Behind
Before your little one came home, you probably had a lot more time to get things done. Time to do laundry, time to cook, clean, watch the Bachelor, or whatever it was you wanted to do. But newborns take a lot of time and energy, so dishes tend to pile up and laundry goes undone, which can leave us feeling like a failure for not being able to do ALL. THE. THINGS!
It’s OKAY! The dishes will eventually get done and so will the laundry. As I said in struggle one, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to say you can’t do it all and be all to everyone. No one said you have to be perfect or that you should be Superwoman.
Struggle Five – Judgement from Others
Life with an infant is full of well-meaning advice. Whether it is from your friends or your mother-in-law, they really do mean well. However, so much advice can leave you feeling like you are doing it wrong, or that you don’t know what you are doing at all. Judgement in the world of parenting is the real deal and it doesn’t get any better as your child gets older.
The best thing you can do is find what works best for you and your family and go with it! When others offer advice, tell them that you appreciate it and keep it moving! But remember, practice what you want others to do and keep your parenting advice to yourself.