If you recently became a parent, congratulations — and, hang in there! We promise, it gets better. Parenting will likely be one of the biggest and most rewarding challenges you’ve ever encountered.
New parents face enormous stress, from waking for 3am feedings (or, attempted feedings), to trying to determine the right car seat to buy (and wondering if you should just avoid driving until your child is 12 years old), to coping with the isolation of being at home with your baby all day (as cute as your little one is, it’s hard to hold up a conversation with only gurgles and burps).
What are the best ways to cope with the pressures of being a new parent? We asked our Facebook community to share their parenting secrets. Here are 6 ways Infantino parents keep their cool, even when the heat’s turned up.
1. Take Breaks
“Know it’s ok to take a break,” says Rae Ann Torkkola. “Have a good support system so when things get overwhelming, you can take a walk, go shopping, etc.”
Being a parent is demanding, and it’s not a sign of failure or weakness if you need a break. While the job of parenting may not come with a scheduled lunch break, you can build in breaks for yourself. Ask someone you trust to watch your baby while you take a moment of “me time.” Take a shower. Walk the dog around the block. Drive to your favorite coffee shop and grab a latte. Even a five-minute breather in a nearby room can help ease frustration and stress.
Using periodic breaks to relax and refresh will make you a better parent overall, by keeping you at your best for the little one who needs you most.
2. Ask For — and Accept — Help
It’s easier to take much-needed breaks if you ask for a helping hand — and it’s just as important to learn to accept help when it’s offered. Don’t feel the pressure to do it all yourself. “Let your partner help when they ask to!” says Heidi Ritter.
Family, friends and neighbors can all provide support when you need it. Some gyms, places of worship, and community centers have dedicated babysitters on hand, to allow parents to partake in their activities without having to look after their babies. When your mother-in-law offers to spend a few hours with the baby, take her up on it. Rely on others around you to help.
3. Use Relaxation Exercises
“To relax I definitely do some breathing exercises,” says Kristina McMillan. Even a few deep breaths can make a big difference in a moment when you feel you’re losing control.
Breathing exercises, meditation and yoga are all great ways to reduce stress, and the best part is these can all be done from home. Find time while your baby is napping, or ask your partner or a family member to spend some time with baby, and close yourself in a nearby room for a quick relaxation exercise. Meditation can be particularly helpful in learning how to let go of expectations and accepting yourself as a parent.
If you feel squeezed for time, you can find short guided meditations (of three minutes or less) on meditation apps, and YouTube has many yoga routines that take less than 10 minutes.
4. Pamper Yourself
A few moms in our community mentioned ice cream and wine as indulgences that help them cope with the stress of parenting. You’re working hard, and it’s okay to treat yourself. It’s not selfish — it allows you to care for yourself with a little bit of special attention, so you can give your all to your baby.
Treats don’t have to come in the form of decadent food. You may draw yourself a bubble bath, go for a massage or pedicure alone or with a friend, or schedule a date night with your partner while Grandma or a babysitter takes care of the little one. It’s important to pamper yourself, to avoid feeling run-down in the long term (which over time, doesn’t help you or your baby).
5. Savor the Good Moments
Make an effort to pause to appreciate the magic moments of parenting. Relishing the special moments with your baby can help you get through the tough times.
“Honestly, even after I've had a tough day with my 5 mo old, any time he gives me that big gummy smile or I watch him sleeping it makes me remember how much the occasional frustration is worth it,” says Emily Alexander.
The next time your baby is cuddled up to you, and you can feel that little heartbeat against yours, pause, take a deep breath. “The peace I get snuggled up to that sweet boy is unlike anything else,” says Riley Lewis.
6. Trust Yourself
This might be the most important advice of all: trust yourself.
“...stop listening to everyone else's ‘advice’ and criticism,” says Amber Richards. “Do your research, know your child, and don't worry about what everyone else says!”
There’s a lot of competing advice about how to parent, and it’s impossible to take it all in. So, don’t try to navigate every piece of advice. Instead, focus on yourself and your child. Trust your intuition and know that you are the best expert when it comes to what makes your child happy and healthy.