Until you become a parent, the only human needs that really matter are your own, and maybe sometimes your partner’s. Having a baby completely throws a “me first” mentality off the rails. There are a plethora of courses to prepare parents for pregnancy and childbirth, but there’s not a lot of emphasis placed on what happens after the baby comes home. Here are a few tips and tricks to put you in a parent mindset, and help prepare you for the way your whole world is about to change.
Many of the new parents I work with are genuinely shocked that the structure of their lives is different once they have a baby. And I get it, it’s overwhelming to have your entire life disrupted by someone so tiny. But, keeping self-care in mind (see this post), it’s crucial that baby’s basic needs are prioritized over your additional needs. Basic needs for baby are sleep, milk, and comfort. Additional needs for parents include going out for dinner, going shopping to buy new workout clothes, making it to the 6am workout class you used to go to every morning. For example, if you’re the type of person who likes to go out every night, that type of social life will no longer be as sustainable. Babies need to sleep 12-14 hours a night, and a baby’s internal clock sets to a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 around 3 months. I’m not saying you don’t get to have a social life anymore, just that your social life has to work around your baby going to sleep in their usual sleeping place and that knowledge that you’ll be up in a few hours to feed them.
Having a baby can be a complete disruption of your social life and relationships, but it’s manageable and even wonderful if you’re properly prepared for it! Here are a few tips to help you start thinking about transitioning to parenthood and how to adjust your life to accommodate a newborn.
Start slowing down. Time with a newborn moves slowly and that’s okay. If you’re the type of person who is go go go constantly, embrace this newborn stage as an opportunity to slow down and appreciate the pause. Try to let go of the pressure to get a lot done, and lean into inertia.
If you’re the type of person who feels lost without lots of social interaction, ask friends to come to you! Invite friends to bring over dinner, but request that they leave before 9. Make plans to go on a walk in your neighborhood instead of trekking across town to meet someone. And always follow your baby’s cues! A happy baby usually means happy parents, and newborns can be so sensitive to new environments and overstimulation.
START GOING TO BED EARLY. I cannot stress this one enough. I see so many families, especially clients I work with post-partum, completely flustered by sleep deprivation because they are staying up until midnight. I know it can seem appealing to stay up late to get some grown-up time while your baby sleeps, but the tired hangover the next day isn’t worth it. Many folks start to slow down while they’re pregnant anyway, but if you are adopting or have a surrogate, that natural inclination toward more rest may not be there. Try to aim for a bedtime of 10pm, it’ll help you to get the most sleep once you have an older infant who sleeps from 7pm to 6am.