No one can sufficiently prepare you for parenthood except for parenthood itself. You might have been warned that your life would change. But you do not know what exactly to expect. And obviously, you thought better that you would rise to the occasion. How tough can it be right? But if you are a first-time parent, you’ll find out almost immediately that you’ll need to adjust your life to cope with your latest family member.
Having a newborn means a lifestyle change
Being an auntie or uncle does not make you a parent. Recall the times you winced when a toddler screamed in the middle of your meal at a posh restaurant? Recall how you told your partner then that your child will never behave that way in public in future?
Well, chances are your baby will push your buttons in ways unimaginable. Ready or not, you’ll need to embrace change. And this usually means adjusting sleep schedules, leisure activities, and more importantly expectations.
What is life with a newborn?
In the initial weeks, newborns sleep most of the time. During this period, they will alternate between restful sleeps and frequent feeds throughout the day.
Many babies adopt erratic sleeping patterns that can leave you sleep-deprived. In fact, expect to wake up in the middle of the night to accommodate night feeds in the first few months. And bear in mind that keeping them awake in the day does not make them better sleepers at night.
More often than not, new mums find each day to be a flurry of diaper changing, bathing, feeding, burping, sleeping, sterilising, rocking and laundry washing. For colicky babies, new mums will even have to struggle with incessant crying.
At home, everything requires multitasking to accomplish. And sometimes, having guests showing up uninvited when you have not bathed or smell of breast milk suddenly becomes a major source of distress.
You’ll also find yourself having lesser quality time with your spouse or anyone in your life for that matter. But know that this is a transitional phase. Things will get better when you eventually ease into your new role. It will be a sharp learning curve at first, but you and your spouse can learn to become better communicators along the way.
How can I adjust better?
Many parents feel the urge to prove that they are good parents. And that asking for help is an outward sign of weakness. But that is obviously far from the truth.
Knowing that help is needed and requesting for help is actually a sign of maturity when you and your spouse are struggling. Women who take pride in handling the ins and outs of their household will find asking for help humbling and liberating at the same time.
If you were to ask for help, chances are family and friends are more than happy to chip in. Whether it is asking your mother-in-law to prepare a meal, or getting a close friend to help run errands on a weekend, outsourcing certain needs can make the initial months less stressful. This will allow you to focus on your baby more and bond as a family.
Going out will also require greater effort. It is no longer just about grabbing your purse and heading for the door. Now, it would mean packing the diaper bag in advance, dressing your baby up, making a dash for the pram and possibly even a diaper change in that short span. A simple one-step process suddenly becomes a 5-step process.
If anything, one significant lifestyle change will be planning ahead and making allowances for hiccups. As your primary focus shifts to your baby, you’ll likely take on a fresh perspective towards yourself and even the people around you.
You’ll find a greater capacity to give. At the same time, you’ll learn to cope with uncertainties and crisis. You’ll even reconsider your future with a baby in the picture and begin making long-term plans never thought of before.
To help you better manage your life with a new dependent, speak with a consultant to find out how you can help your baby and family prepare for contingencies in life.