After your baby is born, life might be exactly what you expect, but much of the time, new parents are surprised by what it’s like to care for a newborn. It’s normal to want to pretend like this transitional period is a piece of cake, but for many people, even people who are familiar with babies and think they know what to expect, adjusting to life with a newborn can be hard. Here are some other things to remember as you start adapting to life with a new baby.
It’s okay to miss your old life
You’ve probably heard a lot of people say that parenthood is the best thing they ever did in their lives. But think back: how old were their kids when they said that? New parenthood is hard, and it’s different than parenthood when a child is 2, 6, or 12 years old. Plus, all the memories of your child-free life are recent and fresh in your mind. Lots of new parents say that in their baby’s first few months or year, they desperately missed the days they could go out alone, nap whenever they wanted, focus all their attention on their partner or themselves, and generally just do their own thing. Don’t feel ashamed if you feel the same way – it’s normal.
Try to get comfortable with a little discomfort
Do you have a voice in your head that says you’re not a good parent, or that your baby doesn’t love you, or that you aren’t prepared to do this for years to come? That voice isn’t necessarily going to go away immediately. You’ll need to let time and experience prove that what it’s saying is wrong. Whenever possible, talk back to this voice and counter it, but don’t feel as though anything is wrong when you hear it in your head, and don’t believe what it says, either. Most new parents have these thoughts, but that doesn’t mean anything about their parenting skills. This can also apply to physical discomfort, too. You should absolutely be trying to catch up on sleep and take care of yourself whenever you can, but for a few months, things won’t feel as balanced as you’d like. Try to accept that this is a phase, and it won’t last forever.
Go by your own clock
When you do leave the house, allowing yourself some more time than you used to need can give you the space to make your way out the door with a little less stress. Having a baby can slow different processes down a bit, and being late or rushed to things doesn’t help you feel centered or in control as you try to adjust to life with a newborn.
Learn more about baby development
You’ll be setting yourself up for unnecessary stress if you think that your newborn should be feeding themselves, crawling, or talking earlier than the stages of normal development – or even right at them. One of the most important things to know about child development is that there is a wide range of ‘normal.’ If you have a better understanding of what infants need at this age, and what they’re like, it can help you to be realistic about their growth and really enjoy time with your little one without unnecessary worries.
Appreciate all your new skills
There are also some serious perks that come with your first few months with a baby. One of the most amazing things about parenting is how it changes you as a person. Many people notice that they get more patient, empathetic, and organized once they start caring for a baby. You’ll probably also get better at working on a team and solving problems on the fly. The way that you look at the world might change, too; having a baby tends to put things in perspective for people. When it all comes down to it, having an infant around is not always (or often) easy. These big changes you’re experiencing might feel like setbacks sometimes. But you’re wiser, more responsible, and more capable than you’ve ever been before – even if it doesn’t always feel like it.