When baby arrives - how do you cope?
The arrival of a new bundle of joy is in equal parts the most joyful moment of a new parent’s life, and paralysingly petrifying. When this small human is curled up nice and cosy in the womb, imminent parenthood doesn’t feel real. As soon as it kicks and screams its way earthside, everything changes.
Parenthood is one of the hardest roles anyone can take on, if not the hardest. It’s also the kind of experience that almostparents claim will never change them (‘‘Our baby isn’t going to change our lives at all; he’ll slot perfectly into our routine’’) but who go into hibernation as soon as they realise that leaving the house is just too hard.
So what revelations do new parents experience almost immediately? Number one: community is everything. Every parent, whether they have a partner or they’re doing it on their own, needs people around them. Many New Zealanders are fortunate to have family nearby, but many others have come from overseas and left their extended families behind.
Parenthood might be exciting, but it can also be very lonely. For new parents who don’t have people around to make them dinner sometimes, fold up the washing when they visit or cradle their crying baby so they can have their first shower in a week, connecting with people in their community is even more important.
Neighbourly is a great way to meet like-minded people who live just over the fence. Use the platform to set up a prampushers’ walking club or weekly coffee group, or head along to a community event that’s advertised in your area, like Mainly Music.
Another revelation is that parents need to become very intentional about alone time – and together time with their significant other. Especially in the case of breastfeeding mums, getting some time to yourself can be as scarce as hen’s teeth early on. Schedule dates not only with each other but also with yourself.
Not only will this give you an opportunity to clear your head, you can also hand responsibility over to the other parent, which will in turn give them more confidence in looking after bub.
Fitness is important too, less for getting your ‘‘pre-baby bod’’ back and more for mental clarity. Plenty of studies show that regular exercise, even just casual walks along the beach, do wonders for feelings of positivity and wellbeing. If you’re walking outside with bubba, make sure they’re wrapped up nice and warm.
Finally, onesies and jumpsuits with domes and buttons are absolutely useless when you’re trying to quickly change a nappy (particularly when there’s poop involved), and swaddling a wriggly baby requires aMaster’s degree in engineering.
Every parent’s journey is different. There’s no instruction manual either, otherwise we’d all be doing it – and we’d all be churning out carbon copies of each other’s kids.
One thing is certain though: parenthood is very rewarding. And if you’re a new parent who’s wondering how on earth you’re going to get through the next 18 years, chin up, because you’re doing an incredible job.
Parenthood can be exciting, but it can also be lonely.