How To Adjust To Life As A New Parent
This is a guest post by Ryan Howard, who runs SmartParentAdvice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Ryan writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.
How to Adjust to Life As A New Parent
The first few weeks of parenthood go by in a blur. From the moment your little one arrives, you realize that your life will never be the same. There are all sorts of new things to learn and you can hardly make a decision about anything without stopping to consider your baby. As the initial weeks and months go by, you may start to feel like you have a handle on things. At this point, you can stop and catch your breath, but you may be struck by just how much your life has changed.
Some people have a tough time adjusting to life as a parent. After all, while parenthood comes with all sorts of wonderful moments, there is also a lot of new stress and responsibility.
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Enjoy the Moment
For me, getting in the right frame of mind had a major impact on how much I enjoy parenthood. I tend to be a fairly task oriented person. So, in the early days, I would get frustrated when things didn’t go smoothly. I remember one time when I was getting ready to have a nice day at the park with my wife and out son. I got my little guy all dressed up in a onesie, pair of pants and a sun hat. Then, I put a picnic blanket and some other things in the car, and put my infant son in his car seat. As soon as he was buckled up, he spit up.
Ok, back inside to quickly change his outfit. No big deal. So, I get him all changed, and then put him back in his car seat and we’re good to go. But, then I notice he needs a new diaper. Ok, let’s try this again. Back inside, get him undressed, change his diaper, and then we are good to go. This time we really did hop in the car and head over to the park. But, I was a little frustrated by the whole process of leaving and wasn’t in the best mood when we finally arrived.
As a new parent, simple things like leaving the house can take a half an hour. If you are focused on getting out of the house quickly and efficiently, it’s easy to wind up getting frustrated. For me though, it’s helped a lot to focus on enjoying whatever we are doing instead of trying to accomplish the task at hand quickly. If you’re focused on enjoying the moment, then doing things life changing your baby’s outfit or getting into a car seat can be a simple pleasure in their own right.
Get Your Rest
Everyone is different, and some people need more sleep than others. I will say though that a lot of parents struggle with getting enough sleep. In the days before kids, you might have been fine going to sleep at 10pm and waking up at 6am. That’s 8 hours after all. Not bad.
Once you have a baby, getting in bed for 8 hours will not result in nearly 8 hours of sleep. Chances are that you will be up a few times in the middle of the night for feedings and perhaps a fresh diaper or two.
If you let this cut into your sleep, there is good chance you won’t be as happy as you go through your days. So, try getting to bed a little earlier and maybe even sneaking in a cat nap once in a while.
Find the Style That Works For You And Your Family
A lot of new parents spend a lot of time reading about how to raise their kids. This is natural, since in the beginning there is a good chance you really don’t know anything. How much should a baby nurse or sleep? How do you give them a bath? There are all sorts of questions that come up.
The only thing about this approach, however, is that the guidance on what you “should” be doing does not always align with real life. Oftentimes, the expert advice sets standards that aren’t practical, and may not fit with the way that you want to live. Once you start to feel like you have the basics down, it’s a good idea to be thoughtful about developing an approach to parenting that works for you.
Make Time For The Things That Make You Happy
It’s easy to feel like your entire identity can be consumed by parenthood. This is actually hard to avoid in the really early days since newborns do require quite a bit of time and attention. Naturally, your other hobbies and interests tend to take a back seat in the early days.
After a few months though, it’s important to make sure that you’re making time for the things that you love to do. On some days, that might mean popping your little one in the stroller and going for a family walk. On other days though, you might want to carve out a little time for yourself to do some painting, catch up on your favorite show, or do whatever else you like to do.
Everyone makes the transition to parenthood in their own way. My hope is that some of these tips help to make the transition just a little bit easier for you.
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