Parenthood is one of the most beautiful, selfless acts that anyone can choose to undertake. But while we’re pouring into our children, it can be easy to become drained—especially as a first-time parent—which makes tending to your child’s needs more difficult. Here are self-care tips every first-time parent should know.
Be Gentle With Yourself
It’s natural to want to get everything right for your child. That desire shows that you’re a good parent. All the same, it’s important to accept that not everything will turn out exactly as you plan. Don’t try to push yourself to go back to pre-pregnancy life too soon, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes.
As the adage goes, “It takes a village,” and it’s good to identify who is in yours and accept the help they can offer. There are great resources such as mealtrain.com to make getting help with meals even easier, and never underestimate the value of someone coming even for an hour or two to cuddle baby while you take a nap. Also, research new parent groups and resources that may be available in your area.
As important as accepting help is, though, you should also be aware of your own limits. It’s okay to tell friends and family that you need a break from visits or that you can’t answer their texts right away. Also, don’t be afraid to put boundaries in place about what you will and will not allow. If you do not want people to kiss your baby, you are within your rights to say no.
Sleep is a sorely sought-after prize for new parents, and making sure you can get enough is an important part of taking care of yourself. It’s also helpful to in place some of the same strategies you would use in any other circumstances to maximize sleep. Establish a nightly wind-down routine to relax enough to sleep and make sure your bedroom is ideal for sleep. Also, try to find time to squeeze in a nap during the day—even if you can’t sleep, simply lying down or doing something relaxing can help you feel more rested.
Every new parent has a lot on their mind, from everyday tasks to the weight of your own expectations. Communicate these things to those around you. If you need to stop and eat or you want someone to do a chore for you, tell someone. If someone asks you how you are doing, and you’re at the end of your rope, you don’t have to say, “fine.” Acknowledging these things will take some of the burden off your shoulder.
As a parent, you want to offer the best care you can to your child, and every first-time parent should know that self-care is an important part of that. Take your time, and take a deep breath. You’ve got this.