Preparing for your first step into parenthood
Useful tips for the first-time parent.
If you’re first time parents and bringing home a new baby for the very first time, you have probably been wondering what your life will be like on a day-to-day basis.
Perhaps you have envisioned parenthood as a tranquil scene from a greeting card or a television commercial. Or you may have heard tales of misery from family or friends, describing endless sleepless nights, relentless fatigue, and no life at all away from a little tyrant who demands attention every moment!
In reality, neither of these visions accurately encompasses the breadth and depth of caring for a newborn.
Manage your expectations
In one sense, a newborn has a relatively simple agenda: eating, sleeping, crying, and eliminating urine and stool, repeated over and over each day. It wouldn’t seem all that difficult or complicated to care for one. After all, an infant doesn’t feverishly explore every cupboard or argue with you over rights to the car.
But there are countless variations on these basic activities and some unpredictability in the way each baby behaves from day to day. Expect that your baby may be more fussy or sleepy after arriving home, due to the unfamiliar surroundings. It may take several days for both baby and parents to establish a predictable pattern of eating and sleeping.
Textbook approaches to baby care, with step-by-step instructions for every situation, are unrealistic. Instead, learn the basic facts and principles and trust that you and your baby will eventually settle in together. It's important to do as first time parents.
Keep your relationship a priority
It is common for a new baby to take centre stage and for parents (especially new ones) to put the maintenance of their marriage at the bottom of the daily priority list. Remember that the two of you became a family with the exchange of vows, even before children were in the picture. And you will remain a family after the children have grown and left your home.
While they are under your roof, a rock-solid partnership, continually renewed and refreshed, will be the foundation for the security of any child you add on to your original family of two. Maintaining a regular date night may require some ongoing creativity, planning and dedication. But the romance, renewal and vitality they generate are well worth the effort.
First time parents especially need to learn how to self-care. Learn how on the next page.
Prevent turmoil in the nest
You might assume that the awe and wonder of having a newborn at home would automatically forge a powerful bond between the proud parents. But it is also quite possible for the new demands of baby care to generate unexpected resentment or jealousy in the marriage.
One common source of friction is the unspoken assumptions about mothers’ and fathers’ roles. If one parent believes that tending to a baby is “women’s work” and that Dad need not report for duty until his child can throw a ball, this will surely drive a wedge between the spouses. He may become weary of seeing her attention directed toward the newborn; she may become irritated that he isn’t pulling his weight at home.
So how do you prevent a newborn nest from becoming a divided house? Ensure that whoever takes on the role of primary caregiver, often the mother, has sufficient time for self-care and rest. Recognise that prioritising your personal needs and interests, is not selfish. In fact, it will help you avoid baby-care burnout —not only now but also in the days and seasons to come.
Expanding your family can be a deeply fulfilling experience. By investing time and effort in your marriage, you and your spouse can cultivate an enduring relationship and a loving and secure family unit for your children.
Copyright © 2016. Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd.
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