For 99.9% of new parents, life with a newborn is challenging. There are tons of things to learn, and for most of them, you’ll have to learn what solution is right for your family through trial and error. One comforting thing is that you’re not alone in experiencing these challenges – whatever you’re going through, lots and lots of other parents have experienced, as well.
While there’s a lot you’ll have to experience firsthand, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for some situations before they happen. Here are five common situations you might find yourself unprepared to deal with as a new parent, and how you can go about tackling them
When you and your partner have different parenting goals
One of the most common new-parent struggles comes up when a couple has to learn how to share the responsibilities that come with a new baby. Once you bring your baby home, you might find out that you and your partner have different ideas of how to parent. This can in turn put strain on your relationship.
Communication with your partner, even when you’re upset, or even if you think your point of view must be obvious, can help both of you put a disagreement in context. Making sure to spend time with each other, especially when doing something you both enjoy, can help to keep the things about your relationship that work the best in focus. And being honest about when you might feel like you’re in over your heads and might need to ask for help can help to keep either or both of you from getting overwhelmed.
Parenting a new child together is different from any other challenge your relationship has faced this far – even if you already have children – so don’t be afraid if you’re facing an adjustment period as you learn the best balance of parenting styles for your family.
When you feel overwhelmed with visitors
A new baby is exciting, wonderful, adorable – who wouldn’t want to come by and spend some time with one? But when friends or family drop by every day of the week, you might find yourself more exhausted by them than by your newborn. The best way to handle this is to set firm boundaries with people. Have everyone contact you before they visit, and be sure to establish set times that your loved ones can come admire your little one’s cuteness. Ask that they bring food when they visit, too, especially if they ask you what they can do to help. It won’t be easy at first, but this skill will serve you well in the future.
When you feel isolated
On the flip side, you might find that new parenthood is lonely. A lot of things temporarily fall to the side when you have a baby in the house, and friendships sometimes are the first to get put on the back burner. This isn’t always easy to deal with, but you may be so busy with the new baby that you might not notice it at first.
If you do start to miss the life you had before baby arrived, remind yourself that these early months don’t allow much time for socializing, and many parents find them to be some of the hardest. If you’re feeling isolated, it can be hard to reach out, especially if you’ve fallen out of touch for a while, but reaching out even for long enough to have a short phone conversation can help to fight off feelings of loneliness. If you can’t find the energy, though, it’s not forever, and in a few months, when your baby is better able to be without you for whole minutes at a time, you’ll have more motivation and time to maintain these relationships.
When you can’t stop worrying
This tends to present itself at inconvenient times, like when you finally have a chance to nap or your partner has offered to take on full baby-duty so you can get a little time to yourself. You appreciate the opportunity – until suddenly, you think of every single thing that could go wrong, and can’t stop yourself from thinking about them. It might be all you can do not to run back to your baby and make sure that everything’s okay. In cases like this, there’s nothing wrong with actually checking in on your baby a few times, because you’re still getting the hang of this, after all. If you can set boundaries with yourself to get the most out of your alone time, though, you’ll appreciate it later.
When you’re getting ready to go out with your baby for the first time
It’s bound to happen, yet you might be dreading the first time that it does. Bringing a baby out of the house can raise all kinds of fears and concerns for a new parent. Even though it can be scary, though, it has to happen some day! When you and they are ready, take the steps you need to prepare, including giving yourself some extra time to get ready before the two of you leave. Until you get the hang of things, it can be helpful not to go anywhere that’s too crowded or busy. Packing extra essentials like diapers, a blanket, a change of clothing, or a super-secret-weapon-lullabye can help cut down on unpleasant surprises, and bringing the right carrying device for the situation, whether that’s a sling or baby carrier for navigating crowded places, or a stroller for long walks, will make carrying your baby around easier.
Now that your baby is around, you might be surprised when you find yourself in old situations that require a new approach. Becoming a parent takes some getting used to, but you have a whole life’s experience on your side, even if it’s a life’s experience doing other things, and you’ll be ready to face these new challenges with your own signature style in no time. The thoughts and experiences that you’re having are completely normal for someone with a new baby, so if you find yourself in a situation that you don’t know how to handle, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is all a learning process.