It does not matter what the parenting books tell you or what you hear from other parents, your first year as a parent can be a real eye-opener.
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Your life will change completely – your body, your priorities, your relationships all evolve, which makes your first year as a parent not only exhilarating but exhausting as well.
The addition of a new family member is a happy event, but it can also be very stressful for both the parents. Your first year as a parent allows you to achieve many of your own developmental milestones while balancing marital issues, work pressures, and most importantly sleep schedules.
At the end of the first year, you will realize that no matter how difficult this year was, the satisfaction of accomplishing something very important makes it all worthwhile.
1. Embrace the changes
The first few months of the first year of parenting are going to be the toughest. Your schedule will obviously not remain the same and chaos will prevail.
It will be impossible to do many things you used to do earlier but there will be many things that will become possible for you. Embrace the new changes and don’t forget to appreciate yourself and your partner for managing these changes along with your little bundle of joy.
2. Don’t feel overwhelmed
Don’t worry if your house is a mess or you don’t have the energy to cook dinner. You just need to relax and try not to do everything yourself.
The most important thing is to take care of yourself and your baby.
Other things that can help you stay sane in the first three months are – sleep when your baby is sleeping. It’s crucial for you to be well-rested to take care of the baby and do all the chores around the house.
3. Take care of your health
During the first year of parenting, take care of your diet because you need the energy to tackle all the additional work. Also, mothers, you need all that nutrition for breastfeeding.
Don’t stay cooped up in the house. Go to the park or to the store as the change of scenery will do wonders for you.
Accept help from relatives, friends, or neighbors. If they want to babysit, help in house cleaning, or offer food, always say yes.
4. Connect with other new moms
During the first year of parenting, it will be helpful if you connect with other new moms or dads as it can be very comforting to talk to parents who are going through the same circumstances. It helps to find out that you are not alone.
These tactics will also help combat the mood swings that you are surely going to experience. Although this is the happiest and fulfilling time in the lives of new parents, it is normal to feel anxious, weepy, and depressed.
Research shows that ‘baby blues,’ which are caused due to decreasing estrogen levels, can affect 50% of the women a few days after they give birth.
However, these blues tend to disappear a month postpartum particularly if you breastfeed. Breastfeeding helps to lessen the effects of hormonal shifts.
5. Settling into a normal routine
By the time the baby is six months old, many women are back at their jobs or at least venturing out into the real world again by going to the gym and fulfilling other obligations.
It is essential to find a decent daycare especially if you work full time. Once you are satisfied with your babysitter, you can ease into your job by starting on a flexible or lighter schedule. Be specific with everyone that although you are willing to pull your weight, you will only be available within set hours.
At this time you do not need to work longer days or take on extra assignments so that your time away from your baby doesn’t seem endless.
Most importantly, take care of yourself as most working moms tend to neglect themselves. They often eat on the go, get too little sleep, and rarely exercise. This stress can take a toll.
The same thing applies to new dads.
6. Revel in parenthood
Your baby is now six months old.
Although the second half of your first year as a parent can be much calmer than the first half, you may still find your head spinning with all the recent changes in your life. It is now time to get back in the swing of things.
Try to reconnect with friends from whom you haven’t heard lately because maintaining these special relationships can help enrich your life.
Make time for activities that you enjoyed before having your baby. Take a bath, stop at your favorite coffee shop, visit the museum, or read a book. These will help you relax and feel invigorated.
Watch Family Counselor, Diana Eidelman talk about the things that every new parent should know:
7. Don’t forget your partner
Becoming parents can cause some seismic shifts in the relationship between husband and wife.
It is not only that you are worried about feeding time and changing diapers instead of going out for a nice dinner, but you also may not find yourself in the mood for meaningful conversations, much less making love with your partner.
In order to feel more sexually and spiritually connected with your partner, carve out some “couple time”. Go out on dates and plan for sex as well. Don’t worry about losing spontaneity. You may find yourself pleasurably anticipating the time that you two could spend together.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.