Parents need to find their ‘people’
Having a tight group of people going through the same thing is crucial for new mums and dads, says Erin Reilly.
The scariest thing I’ve ever done is have a baby.
I wasn’t scared about labour; I was more worried about the responsibility of turning an adorable blob who couldn’t do anything for himself into a fullyfunctioning member of society who wasn’t a bad person.
We’re only 18 months in, but if there’s one thing I’m incredibly thankful for so far, it’s my mum squad. It doesn’t matter how many books you read or how many babies you practise swaddling on before you have your own, nothing prepares you for parenthood and the multitude of struggles, tears and long nights that come with it.
But having a tight group of people on speed dial who have either been there and done that or are currently going through it makes the early days especially a whole lot easier.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of coffee groups. Antenatal classes often morph into coffee groups because everyone’s babies are roughly the same age and therefore all the parents are roughly at the same stage.
Community events like Mainly Music, Wriggle and Rhyme or Plunket playgroups are also great ways to get out of the house and interact with like-minded people under the guise of getting the kids out of the house.
While all the kids run around banging drums and fighting over shakers, parents can catch up on the latest gossip and send understanding glances across the group at other mums who are worried that their kid is jumping off the speaker (don’t worry, love – we’ve all been there). Check out Neighbourly to find child-friendly events happening near to your place.
Then there’s social media. In the early days, I signed up to a ‘‘newborn sleep’’ group for parents who couldn’t get their kids to sleep at night. Some babies are born sleeping, and others would rather party at all hours of the night. Mine was the latter, and I was so sleep-deprived you could have mistaken me for a zombie. Honestly, I don’t know how I would have coped without that group. Connecting with other parents who were in the same boat as me proved that I wasn’t doing it wrong and there was light at the end of the sleep deprivation tunnel.
It’s incredibly important for new parents to find people who are just like them. If you’re stumped about transitioning to formula, if you need inspiration on solids, or if you’re struggling with ceaseless tears (yours or your baby’s), your people will always be there with some words of advice, a listening ear, a hot cup of tea and a shoulder to cry on.
They’ll be there to celebrate all the great things too – first steps, first words, first time sleeping through the night – and when they celebrate theirs, you’ll be there for them too.
It’s incredibly important for new parents to find people who are just like them.