You have always known you wanted to be a parent. So you try, you get pregnant, and you and your significant other (or you on your own) have a child. Suddenly, you are thrust into parenthood. This life isn’t about you anymore. Your relationship now involves another person and an entirely different set of priorities than it did in the past.
It takes adjustment. And, it is not easy. I am not just talking about those suffering from postpartum depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders. This parenthood thing can be difficult for anyone. And that is ok.
Get Rid Of Your Expectations
Even if you are someone who has read every parenting book you could find on what to expect with a new baby, it can still be hard. Nothing can fully prepare you for having another life that completely relies on you for love, nourishment, and complete care. It is all-consuming.
The first thing to keep in mind after having a child is—it is a change. A big one. Get rid of your expectations. Your relationships, yourself will not be exactly the same as they were in the past. You are growing as a person, as a parent. Your heart is literally being worn outside your body. So, cut yourself some slack.
Give Yourself A Break
You will need time to figure things out. You will need breaks. Don’t forget to schedule time for you. Whether it is time to take a nap, time out with your friends, an exercise class, a walk, whatever you are feeling like you need. Allow yourself a chance for that break. It is understandable that the idea of leaving your child for any amount of time can be daunting, nerve-racking, and scary. But, taking care of yourself needs to be a priority, also. You can’t, which I know I have said a thousand times before (but I mean it!), take care of others fully until you have taken the time to care for yourself.
Communicate with your family, your friends. Lean on others. This adjustment is going to be hard for everyone in your household. You will have to figure out a new normal. Talk to each other. Figure out what struggles others are having and brainstorm what might work best.
Share the load. You likely have heard the phrase before “it takes a village.” There is a reason that is so popular. It is true. We all have babies and think we can do it all alone. And yes, I am sure you could do it all alone but would you be happy and healthy? Let others step in and help you out. Let your mother clean your house or hold your baby while you take a much-needed shower. Let your husband do the grocery shopping so you can take a nap. Let a friend fold your laundry if he/she/they desire.
If you are entering this parenting journey with a significant other understand that they too are also adjusting and work as a team. It can be so easy to get angry and frustrated with each other during this time of change. Understandably so, you are both exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed. Give each other some grace.
Parenting is one of the hardest things a person can do in a lifetime, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. All will come with time. For now, snuggle that baby (or babies) and do your best to keep things in perspective.
If you find you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or adjusting, in general, it can help to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional. They can help to provide you with healthy coping mechanisms and support during this transition.
Author: Melissa Sauder, LPC
Melissa is a licensed professional counselor who loves helping women learn to empower themselves so they can lead a healthy, fulfilling life. Her therapy is spending time with her dog, a labradoodle named Sammy.