We all know that parenting doesn’t come with a manual. But comes with support, information, and advice from other parents who know what you’re going through, which comes pretty close. If there’s one thing we know about parents, it’s how much they care about their newborn’s needs. Are they eating enough? Are they following the proper sleep schedule? Are they developing as quickly as other children? You can find tips and resources for all your questions here, we've got you covered. So for all the new parents out there, know that you don’t have to figure out everything on your own. It’s OK to ask for help. And it’s OK to be searching the internet for nuggets of wisdom.
With every “sleep hack” for babies, there should be a “lifehack” for parents. Caring for a newborn requires time and energy. If those are things you’ve felt you’ve been lacking, this article is just for you.
Tip 1: Live in the Now:
As a parent, it’s easy to get lost in thought about your long list of to-dos. It may feel like you’re playing a game of catch-up, day in and day out. This is entirely normal! Don’t be hard on yourself if the laundry and home chores fall by the wayside. Dr. Wayne Fleisig, Clinical Psychologist that specialises in child development, puts it best “Live in the now. You hereby have permission to stop worrying about your checklist, doing the laundry, pumping, buying diapers, and learning to be present with your baby. Enjoy your precious moments together.”
It truly does go in a blink, and those precious moments shouldn’t be spent worrying about what people will say about some dirty dishes in the sink. The key to your survival with a newborn is doing less. "Most mamas in today's culture think they are supposed to be busy doing so much for their children. What babies need more than anything is a present and self-aware mama who is gentle with herself and grounded," says Dr. Colleen Crowley, Ph.D., M.A., LMFT, a mother, child psychologist, and co-founder of Brushies. This grounded presence is what helps wire a baby's brain for the rest of their life.
Tip 2: Sleeping Habits
Wherever you turn, you’ll see conflicting advice on the best practices for your sleep and your babies. From crying it out to sleeping when the baby sleeps, there is no shortage of advice that could lend to conflicting results.
Dr. Magdalena Battles, doctor of psychology recommends sleeping when the baby sleeps, just like she did with four of her children. It can be tempting to stay up late to binge-watch your favorite show. However, the reality of struggling to care for a baby during the day when you are sleep deprived because you stayed up late and then they woke you up four times in six hours, will make your day quite miserable. Avoid misery and try to get enough sleep. Often, the only way this is feasible is to sleep when your baby is sleeping. It is exactly why I started going to bed at 8 pm when my twins would go to bed. I knew that I would be woken up every two to three hours, so going to bed early was the only way I was able to get enough hours of sleep.”
Tip 3: Smile and Nod
Get prepared to get a lot of advice. From strangers on the street to family and friends with the best intentions, books, and online articles, you may feel bombarded with suggestions that you don’t feel comfortable with. Do what’s best for your situation, and don’t compare yourself to other mothers or your baby to other babies. That’s a recipe for unhappiness. Dr. Scott Goldstein, a pediatrician with the Northwestern Children’s Practice recommends, “There are many shades of grey when it comes to things like how to get a baby to sleep, to eat, and to develop in the best way possible. This means that by doing what you feel comfortable with, you and your baby will almost always be just fine."
Tip 4: Find your Tribe
One key perspective you’ll need for your survival of parenthood is, it’s okay to accept help and even ask for it. Create a support system around you and your newborn so that you can make time to connect with your partner, take a nap while a family member watches the baby, or prepare a week’s worth of healthy meals that will keep your energy up that are easy to eat throughout the week. Finding a moment to get out of the house, even for a short while with a baby can be challenging. Chat with your partner or support system to carve out some time for a short walk or self-care practices like a warm bath. A refreshed and relaxed parent is the one that makes the best decisions.
While your mind may always be on 'what’s best for the baby,' remember that your needs are essential too. It’s not selfish to require an extra hour of sleep or let the laundry pile up. Be kind to yourself so you can manage your life easier, showing up as your best self for you and your baby.
There will always be conflicting information on every topic! The best one can do is learn about both sides and then decide what’s best for our family and what’s in your heart. The biggest trick to parenting is not feeling guilty or feeling like you have to explain any of the decisions you make. Let your child know through your actions and your words how much you love him and what you think is special about him. —Dr. Fleisig