Parenthood comes with its fair share of realisations. For example; the realisation that you have created a brand new human being, the realisation that this brand new human being is totally reliant on you and the realisation that life will never be quite the same again
When you have children, finding time for your partner, your friends and of course yourself, can be one of the most challenging aspects of parenting. Suddenly the most basic tasks become huge achievements and it’s perfectly normal to wonder why you got yourself into this mess in the first place. In those initial few weeks when your life pretty much revolves around feeding, changing and burping your baby, there will be plenty of ups and downs. There will be days when just having a shower and brushing your teeth will see you and your partner high-fiving in the corridor as you pass like ships in the night, days when you survive on half eaten food scraps and week-old leftovers. Understandably it’s easy to feel so overwhelmed by the needs of a newborn that you start neglecting yourself. And even if you have help – a grandmother, an aunty, a nanny – at the end of the day the ultimate responsibility always lies with mummy and daddy. Because once you’ve had a child, it’s just not possible to really switch off ever again.
But as the incredible creatures we are, we adapt and keep adapting. This adaptation happens gradually and the process often goes unnoticed. So before we know it, we’ve created a whole new routine and settled into a ‘new normal’ allowing us to continue functioning, living and nurturing.
Even as adults we are constantly exploring, gaining and cultivating and experiences. Having a child is the ultimate new experience and as you get to know your little one and they get to know you, you will start to find your new rhythm. In the meantime, however, I’d like to share a few things you can do that can help ease the transition and keep you feeling a bit more like your usual self:
- Do go to bed when your baby goes to sleep: It can be very tempting to stay up for an extra 30 minutes or so once you’ve put your baby to bed for the night. However, those extra 30 minutes of sleep can make a whole lot of difference to your mood and energy levels the following day. If you’re mummy, it can even help regulate your hormones and contribute to shifting that baby weight. If you’re daddy, then getting an extra half hour’s shut-eye can place you in a better mental state to give your wife the support she needs.
- Do go for a daily walk: Even if you’re not ready to exercise yet, make sure you get out of the house and walk. This isn’t just for the sake of maintaining your sanity but also helps repair a mother’s pelvic floor and strengthen the core again. And with all the lifting you’ll have to do as your baby grows, it’s essential to get these as strong as possible as quickly as possible. Everyone can benefit from some fresh air so daddy’s go stretch your legs too.
- Do talk to friends – It’s great if you have friends nearby who can pop around and visit but if your nearest and dearest are in another country, make sure you find the time to chat and share. Be honest, be open and be yourself. No need to pretend you’re having the time of your life when you’re feeling pretty miserable with the baby blues. Dad’s please talk to your friends and family too. You’re probably feeling a lot of responsibility right now and it can feel good knowing you’re not in it alone.
- Do have date night – Even if it’s date night plus one (the one being your baby). You and your partner deserve to spend quality time together. Go out for a meal, sit on the beach or take a stroll in the park. It doesn’t matter what you do, just as long as you do something and do it together. If you really don’t feel like going out, cook a meal together, order take away or just sit and talk. Sometimes just a little treat is enough to make a difficult week a whole lot easier.
It’s unreasonable and unrealistic to expect these to just happen of their own accord. You need to put in the effort and be consistent about it. And if it seems selfish to devote this time to yourself, remember that in order to provide the most loving, secure and stimulating environment for your child, you need to feel good within yourself. Even at an early age, children easily pick up on the energy radiating from you, your partner and the home. Look after yourself so your energy is genuinely positive, inspiring and peaceful.