Tips For Setting Realistic Expectations As a New Parent
Navigating parenthood in 2023?
Being a parent for the first time can be both exciting and terrifying.
It is one of the most rewarding journeys some get to experience, however, it can be a brutal time... Between the cute little noises and the (yawn) sleepless nights, there are moments of joy, exhaustion, doubt and guilt for parents of all generations.
Thankfully, there are ways you can set realistic expectations that take into consideration both the joys and challenges that come with starting a family - while still giving you a path forward!
In this article, we are going to share some tips on how to go about setting reasonable and manageable expectations as a new parent.
Let's jump in:
Don't Be Too Hard On Yourself
We all have dreams of that perfect new life; Little One is adorable, everything goes perfectly, you establish a routine from the first day, you never fall victim to the various explosions that babies tend to unleash, etc., because that's what it looks like in the movies or on online (you know, where everything is just perfect).
Let's be real here - the vast majority of these notions come from curated content that very conveniently skips over all the messy parts, leaving new parents feeling woefully unprepared when real life comes and taps them on the shoulder.
We have said this before, and we will say it again: DO NOT BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF!
You can only do what you can do with what you have at the time... and that is more than enough.
Accept Help From Family And Friends
Friends and family will usually fall into two categories: The ones who help and the ones who aren't going to.
The people who want to help: Let them. In any way they can or want to - that could be in the way of making food for your freezer, cleaning/washing, watching the baby whilst you have a quick shower.
The people who aren't going to help: We all know at least one of these; the one who comes around, expecting to be waited on hand and foot by the new parent with a baby permanently attached to some part of them..! Limit their access to babies (and you); set some boundaries when and where you can.
Related: Is Positive Parenting Effective
Take Time For Yourself And Get Some Rest When You Can
Humans have been mis-sold the idea that prioritising yourself over someone or something else is selfish... The truth is, how can it be selfish to take a few moments for yourself when you are going through one of the most challenging and demanding times in your life?
It doesn't matter how tired you may be, make sure to set aside time - even if it's just 5 minutes - where you can relax, reflect or meditate; this will help prevent exhaustion and burnout. And when you can, try to get some rest; better yet - if you get the chance, take a nap - you deserve it!
Don't Try To Do Everything Yourself
One of the most common issues is new parents trying to do everything themselves - but that doesn't have to be that way.
There are lots of ways to ask for help, both inside and outside your home.
From hiring help once or twice a week or even just getting someone to come to clean the house, don't feel like you have to do everything yourself. There are other solutions to the problem.
Give Yourself Time To Adjust To Your New Life
It's important to remember that everyone is different; maybe you need more time than others to adjust to life as a parent.
And that is OKAY. Everyone needs to do this at their own pace and trying to force it is only going to make matters worse.
None of this is a race against anyone else, and don't compare your journey with others; enjoy every moment as it comes your way.
Don't Grieve Your Old Self Or Your Old Life
Having a baby is a whole thing, and it is completely normal to feel some kind of way about it. But don't grieve the life you had before - after all, wasn't that what led you here in the first place?
It's time for a new chapter and a new outlook on life; embrace the changes and enjoy this new version of yourself.
The thing is, you can still do the things you did pre-baby; there is just going to be an adjustment period - but you will find new routines and other ways of doing the things you want or need to do... You might even add a few new things to that list; who knows?
Just... take a breath.
Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Advice From Other Parents
You may already have other parent-friends who'd be more than happy to offer (solicited) advice as and when needed.
They've already been there, and they, too, have probably learnt from the experiences of others to help ease their transition into parenthood.
If you are the first one to take the plunge within your social circle, there is a wealth of information from our healthcare services, parent groups and online resources to help you.
Just remember: you are never alone, even if it feels like it.
Unique Babies: Don't Compare Yourself To Others
Every baby is unique, and that's a good thing. Don't focus too much on comparing your little one to others; everyone will develop at their own pace - just like you!
Stepping outside your front door in those weeks and months after the birth of your baby can feel a little like getting the Hairdryer Treatment, i.e. everyone has an opinion, they all know best, and they have no problem telling you about it!
Be sure to just enjoy all the small moments with your new bundle of joy; all those things might seem trivial now, but in a few years, you will look back and cherish those special memories.
Expect the unexpected, right? Literally, anything could happen (and often does). That's why it helps to have a plan B for those times when you need help.
The reality is there are only so many things you can prepare yourself for, and you will likely find yourself in situations you have never experienced before. Just keep breathing, don't panic and just keep going - whatever it is, you WILL figure it out..!
It's true that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to parenting a new baby; life after the addition of your baby is going to be different for everyone.
From learning how to deal with sleep deprivation to finding time for yourself to finding a way to balance work and family, the responsibility you have taken on will be challenging at times. It's important to remember not to be too hard on yourself in the process.
Don't try to do it all yourself - ask family and friends for help when needed, take a break whenever possible, and remember that every baby is unique. The balancing act becomes easier as you adjust to a new life - and care for your new one – but it's essential that you also don't neglect your own needs along the way.
Understanding what works best for you and your little one can help you maintain some balance in this new stage of life.
Anything else you'd like to add about navigating the parenting world with a newborn? Let us know in the comments!