Becoming a mom has been one of the hardest roles of my life - even more difficult than being a business owner, a wife, a friend, a sister, or a daughter. It takes all of my physical, mental, and emotional strength some days. Being a mom often robs me of the energy I want to have for other things. Don't get me wrong... most days are wonderful and a huge blessing. I can't believe how lucky I am to have a person as sweet as my little baby who is just beginning to learn how to say "mama". It just takes up a good chunk of my time. This includes time I really need to spend on other important parts of my life like my husband, my career, and my own well-being.
As a therapist who works with parents, I know that balance is an important key to a happier, healthier life and relationship with your partner. Having a baby usually throws most people off-balance and can disrupt any "normalcy" you may have created pre-baby. Getting used to this "new normal" can be a struggle for some new parents. This is why I believe it is important to view parenting alongside of strategic planning. What I mean by this is finding a plan that works for you, your partner, and your baby so everyone can function at their best.
I want to give you some ideas to help you strategize a more effective parenting plan:
1) Set a schedule. As early as you can after your baby is born, make sure your baby gets on a fairly regular schedule. This includes eating, playing, and napping. Consistency is imperative for a happy child. Try to keep nap times around the same time every day as much as you can to ensure more consistent rest for your baby and sanity for yourself.
2) Take advantage of nap times. If you have a baby that can sleep for long stretches during the day, take advantage of this time. If you need to clean, clean. If you need to work, work. If you need to rest, rest. If you have the chance to be sexually intimate with your partner and you feel up to it, go for it! Take that time that your baby doesn't need you to do something for yourself, your relationship, your home... whatever you need.
3) Share parenting responsibilities. If you and your partner are co-parenting, make sure both of you take turns caring for the baby. If only one partner does it, it can feel unbalanced and that person may start to become resentful. Try to even it out in a way that feels fair for both of you. Bonus: your baby will get equal bonding time with you both!
4) Practice self-care. This one is huge and warrants its own post (that's a hint of things to come). If you aren't taking care of your self and your needs, you won't be able to take care of your baby or your relationship with you partner as effectively as you could. Put on your own oxygen mask before anyone else's!
5) Get a babysitter. Not only do you need time for yourself to recharge, but you need time with your partner. Go out without your child on a real date. Hold on to your friendship that brought you together in the first place. Cultivate your relationship and keep in touch with each other's wants and needs. If you're going to parent together, it will be much easier if you actually still like each other and want to be around each other.
These are just a few ideas to help you parent smarter and happier. I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you've found that helps how you parent. Please contact me through phone (720-381-2755) or email (tradewindstherapy at gmail dot com) if you might need a little more guidance than what you've been trying to do already. Parenting is hard, but it's not impossible. You just need a plan!