A recent article in The New York Times caused a stir online and, possibly, in many households, too. The article, “The Trauma of Parenthood,” cited recent studies linking new parenthood to depression. Although this is commonly referred to as “postpartum depression,” The Times article said that the depression the studies identified were not hormonal in nature. Rather, the studies linked depression to the activity of parenting and noted that both men and women have similar experiences.
Parenting can be an all-consuming labor of love. With time, you can get back to feeling like “you” again.
Here are six tips to help ease the transition into new parenthood:
1. Don’t Forget “You”
It’s natural for parents to feel like making, and to want to make, sacrifices for their baby. The constant care and attentiveness that come with having a newborn, however, can leave new parents feeling drained, and that’s not good for anyone. To help ensure that you don’t become eclipsed by the responsibility of new parenthood, take time each day to do something that you love doing. This can be taking a hot bath, going for a long walk, attending a yoga class, having dinner with friends, or whatever you find soothing and relaxing.
2. Take Turns
It’s equally important for spouses to share the childcare, even if one or both spouses go to work every day. If one parent feeds the baby, the other could help clean up; if one parent handles bath time, the other could take over after bath time. The more that each parent shares in the joys and burdens of new parenthood, the easier it can be for each parent to find the needed, all-important “alone time.”
3. Get a Sitter
Parents of infants and young children sometimes hesitate to get a babysitter, whether because of guilt, fear or the expense. New parents should not feel guilty about needing some time alone together. If you can’t find a family member to care for your baby for an evening, ask friends and colleagues to recommend a reputable babysitter. If money is an issue, consider pooling your resources with friends who have children and hiring a babysitter together, enabling you to go on a double-date.
4. Ask for Help
Until well into the 1900s, several generations of a family often lived together or near each other. Children were raised by a “village” of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers. Many households are smaller now, but the effort it takes to raise a child hasn’t changed. New parents shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask for help from family, friends or the community.
5. Grab Sleep When You Can
Some new parents feel that keeping a house clean is more important than getting enough sleep. Cleanliness is important, but it should not come at the expense of your sleep or your sanity. Remember that sleep is one of the most important activities you can undertake during the first days, weeks and months of parenthood.
For tips on getting sleep, check out this post from BabyCenter.
6. See Your Friends
Your friends are an important part of your life and happiness. Staying connected with them during early parenthood is important, too. Even if you only get together for a cup of coffee during nap time, or for a walk in the park while you’re pushing the stroller, make sure that you include your best and oldest friends in this new stage of your life. They’re perhaps the best way to stay connected to yourself, and to help you overcome the rough spots.