Welcome to Parenthood, Someone Forgot to Give You the Manual
Hey, corporate parents! Welcome a whole new world of challenges!
You’re used to succeeding- achieving heights and scaling fast, whilst being confident in your abilities. Nothing fazes you. Sleep deprivation? No concerns! You’ve pulled all-nighters before, right?
“Excuse me?!” I hear new parents say, while they choke on their morning coffee. BTW and coffee is going to be your new best friend!
You have spent three trimesters waiting for the baby to enter this world; now welcome to the fourth. This is the time when you need to nurture yourselves and the baby because the moment the baby was born, so was a mother, and a father. Oh and where’s the manual?
You are experiencing probably the biggest change in your life & to your life ever! You will lose parts of your previous self and you will gain brand new parts. Your circle of friends will change. Interests and responsibilities from pre baby are more difficult to accommodate but, boy oh boy, is it all worth it!
Oh and where’s the manual? Right in front of you, it’s your baby!
Welcome to the challenges of new parenthood!
COMMON CHALLENGES FOR NEW PARENTS • Tiredness & Lack of Energy: I never knew the meaning of the word tired before, and I have pulled a few 48 hour shifts in my time.
•Uncontrollable Worry: Worry about baby’s health, feeding, sleep; in fact anything & everything about baby. •Lack of Confidence: Lack of confidence in your parenting abilities. Lack of confidence in your work abilities. And just generally lack of confidence overall! With so much confusing & contradicting information it is hard to sort what works for you and your unique version of parenthood. • Complete Lack of Structure: Your life now completely lacks structure, in the day, and in the night! Bye bye routine and planning! • Hormone Levels Changing & Fluctuating: Dads please be understanding, and mums please be kind to yourself! Your emotional roller coaster ride is normal. Remember if you are concerned contact your GP, midwife or health visitor - they are there to support you, and you cannot call too many times. • Bonding Issues: It is alright if you don't feel that surging wave of love immediately- you will eventually grow a secure loving bond with your baby. Everyone is different and every experience of mother and fatherhood different. Again, your healthcare professionals are there for any concerns, worries or the bit of extra support.
• Adjusting to your New Role: The BIG ONE because this encapsulates all the rest. This new experience is a learning curve and no amount of preparation, planning or learning can truly prepare you for the actual arrival of the baby. Now this isn’t to scare you. It is to inform and empower you to know that those picture-perfect Hollywood style parenthood is only for the screen. This is real life, and all parents will have gone through and experienced all these challenges that you’re now faced with. From your corporate career, we already know that you can work under pressure and face up to a challenge. So now, more than ever, you need to believe in yourself- you are amazing and resilient and you will reach the other side in total confident authenticity as a parent. So now you have the brief on what challenges to expect, the question is, how can you address them?
THREE WAYS TO ADDRESS THESE CHALLENGES • Learn to live in the moment: This is exactly how a baby lives. Babies don’t work to a clock!
Laugh, explore, enjoy! Look to your infant for the inspiration to really enjoy each moment and experience; to feel each emotion. Stop worrying about what is/has to happen next & when; by living in the moment you will relax & learn to release stress. This may be completely outside of your comfort zone but release, relax and flow fluidly from one moment to the next.
• Meet up with other parents, even if it’s on Skype or Zoom: By creating a supportive network you will form a community that will aid you in raising your child - ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
You will have friends to swap advice with, find non-judgmental support and provide you with the love, kindness and help you need. This is as important to fathers as mothers and there are more and more new fathers’ groups popping up around the world, as we realise the impact that a new baby has on a father. Most baby groups welcome fathers too. These people will become your tribe. They will help ease the isolation you will feel from before baby friends, because planning to see friends who don’t have little ones will gradually become a treat to you.
Don’t forget to take some time for yourself away from your baby. For mothers this is so much harder than fathers both emotionally and physically. For those breastfeeding, work with your partners to support each other. A bath in peace and quiet or a baby free catch up call with a friend can be an amazing boost mentally for mothers.
• Most important rest!
For mothers, give yourself time to recover and heal from the birth. If you have been up all night with your baby, choose a nap over any housekeeping that needs doing - nap when baby naps. For fathers this isn’t an excuse to come home from your career and put those feet up. It is a call to action to actively support your partner through the evening routine and find a way to rest together. This will also keep your bond as partners strong and include you in this new snuggle bubble of the mother and the baby.
Actively do something each day to relax and rest yourself, this could be yoga, meditation, mindfulness or self-improvement. Active relaxation will bring down the stress hormone, cortisol and promote the release of endorphins, the feel good hormones. Active relaxation should give you a feeling of regeneration, enhanced wellbeing and positivity whilst boosting your energy levels.
Lying on the sofa, doing nothing, watching Netflix or reading a book are not considered active relaxation. Although these activities can play a part in rest, they do not reduce body stress levels or renew your energy levels. It is important to get a balance of active and passive relaxation.
Enjoy your baby, embrace your new role of being a parent- after all, this isn’t one of those roles from which you can call quits and resign. Welcome to your new role, for life!
P.S. It is an amazing journey and the most positive rewarding experience you will ever have!
This article is a part of a series by Nixie Foster. Nixie Foster - The Motherhood Mentor to high–flying female entrepreneurs and career women. The founder of ‘High-Flyer to Authentic Motherhood in 13 Steps’; a mentorship program to assist you in finding your natural identity as a mother and give new mothers the secure, loving bond with their baby which allows them to confidently be their unique version of motherhood.
Check out my website https://www.nixiefoster.com/
All opinions published in this article are the author’s own.