Being a new parent is hard, physically, mentally and emotionally. In addition to the demanding needs of a newborn, many new parents are sleep deprived, overwhelmed and filled with doubt about whether or not they can actually pull this off. While you can't do much about your newborn's need to have a diaper changed and be fed every couple of hours, there are practices that you can implement and important lessons that you can remember to help you feel more confident in your ability to be an amazing parent.
Learn as you go – Being a parent is a daily learning experience. It can be monotonous in a lot of ways because many days you will feel like all your baby does is sleep and eat and that all you do is change diapers and think about when you can lie down again. Nonetheless, most days as a new parent will bring about either a new challenge that you haven’t faced before or a new joy for you to delight in. Rather than trying to predict all of those moments and be an expert from the start, strive to learn as you go and become an expert in parenting through experiencing it.
Perfect is a myth- There is no such thing as perfect. In your life, in your marriage and especially in parenthood. The sooner that you abandon the idea of being perfect, the sooner you will appreciate your new life and all of its chaos. The better you are able to see mistakes as opportunities to learn as opposed to confirmation that you’re a bad parent, the sooner you will learn to give yourself a break and credit for doing your best.
Don’t compare – Parenting isn’t about how well you stack up against other parents or your child against other children. Parenting is your personal journey that you have with your child. For every person that you can find that you’re “doing better than”, you’ll find one that you’re doing worse than. Comparing is a zero sum game and the ultimate outcome will only make you doubt yourself and feel worse. If you must compare to gauge success, trying comparing your own progress as a parent and compare where you are now to where you started that first day you brought home your baby from the hospital.
Take time for yourself – Moms and dads need to take time for themselves separately but also together. Ensuring happiness apart and together after having your lives completely changed by a baby is one of the best actions you can take for the short and long term well being of your family. Moms and dads who are neglected may feel too tired to properly function, may grow resentful and long for their past lives. Relationships that aren’t nurtured can become strained and the cute couple that was once madly in love with each other may find themselves distanced and feeling more like roommates than lovers.
You have everything you need – Sure, there are some things that you want and some luxuries that would and can make life easier but as long as your baby has the bare necessities, you have everything you need. If you can afford to buy the things you want, that great. If, however, you can’t afford to provide your child with fancy strollers, designer clothing and the trendiest toys, don’t beat yourself up. One of the best things about babies is that they’re extremely easy to please and require very little, especially in those early days!
You got this – There will be many times when you don’t feel like it, but you got this! It will get easier in some ways, but mostly you’ll get better. You’ll become more patient, you’ll learn what you need to do to survive and find your rhythm. There will be many unpredictable moments that you face and regressions will happen for things that you thought you’d conquered, but you will persist and conquer them again.
Feel how you feel – There is not a particular right way to feel as a new parent. In fact, there are many moods that you will have and many emotions that you will feel. Sometimes it can be very confusing because you’ll feel one emotion right after the other. One minute you’ll feel overwhelmed with love for this little one that you created from scratch and the next minute you’ll wonder why any sane human being would have children. Neither is right or wrong and you’re allowed to feel both. Feel all of the emotions as they come and embrace them as a part of the life-changing process of becoming a parent.