8 Mental Health Tips For New Parents
It’s no secret that being a parent is complex, and the biggest challenge is when you bring home a newborn for the first time. Newborns depend entirely on you and can be very demanding at all times of the day. Not only does that mean you’re not going to have time for yourself, but you’re also going to be awake often. You have so many more responsibilities than before, and it can be tough to keep up with them.
It’s not uncommon for parents or caregivers to struggle with their mental health upon bringing their children home; the birth itself may even cause some mental health conditions. Your mental health should be a priority, too – so long as your child still gets the care it needs.
Understand that no one is perfect
Parenting is always going to be tough, and it’s not something that you can be entirely prepared for. A lot of the pressure new parents feel is that they must do everything flawlessly. There’s no real way to gauge how good of a parent you are because everyone lives in their environment, and every child is going to turn out differently. What’s most important is that you’re giving it your all.
Whether you feel you have too much to give or not enough, doing your best is all anyone can ask for – and your child will grow up grateful for it.
Speak with other parents
Raising a child can have you feeling like you’re alone with your thoughts, as babies are hardly good conversation partners. Being alone with all that stress can lead to a lot of your feelings being pent up, which is never healthy. We all need somewhere to vent and bounce our feelings around, and other parents can be an excellent way to do that. Not only are you communicating with people in the same position as you, but you can share plenty of tips that you’ve each learned along the way.
If you’re not ready to put your trust in other parents, there are many other mental health services you can get in touch with out there. You can even use services online to get the mental health help you need without having to leave the house.
Every experience is different
It’s easy to compare yourself to others when you’re at your lowest, but that isn’t ever going to be productive. Every parent has a different challenge and experience ahead of them when they bring home their first baby, and comparing yourself to others doesn’t make sense when you look at the bigger picture. Every parent has something to offer their child, and that’s not something you can put a price tag on.
Your value as a parent is not at all based on what other parents do for their children, and all you can do is try your best. You don’t see a lot behind the curtain, so stick to what you can and cannot do.
Get time for yourself
Parenting alone can leave you with almost no time to yourself. The only time you get to take a breath is when your baby is asleep, and even then, it can be rocky. Most of the time, the time your baby is sleeping will be spent sleeping with them, as they’ve kept you up until that moment.
We all need time to breathe, and if you’re parenting alone, it might be a good idea to get help from someone else. A loved one or even a nanny can help you fill the gap for just a few hours. It can be hard to trust your baby with someone you don’t know that well, but there are many professionals who have experience taking care of all kinds of children, and yours will be no different from them.
Getting enough sleep
As mentioned before, you’re not going to have much time to yourself at all. You need to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep while your baby is growing up, as it can have severe effects on your mental health. Going without sleep can make you much more irritable, making it more difficult for you to focus during the day. Have someone help you when you need the sleep, and don’t feel guilty about leaving your baby with someone you trust while you rest.
Many parents struggle with the sleep part of bringing home a baby, and there are some excellent resources out there that might help you. Check out this guide: How To Survive Sleep Regression: The Complete Guide For New Parents. It will get easier for you as your baby grows up, but the first few months to a year can be challenging and straining.
Focus on what you have in front of you
One thing that can make the idea of being a parent even more stressful is trying to think about the bigger picture. If you’re having a hard time now, surely you’re not going to be able to survive the next 18 or so years. It’s not about that, and you should never look at anything that way. Right now, you only have to be able to handle what’s in front of you, and that’s all you will ever have to deal with.
Try to take things slowly, and remember not to overwhelm yourself with negative thoughts and feelings. These things can come on strong when you’re struggling with your mental health, and it’s common for many parents to feel like they can’t do this. You can do this. You can do it today, you can do it tomorrow, and you’ll do it the day after.
It’s okay to be strict sometimes
Saying no isn’t easy. It can feel like saying yes is so much easier than saying no because you haven’t got to deal with anyone’s negative responses. When it comes to your children, you’re going to have to start saying no a lot. Kids don’t understand that things have value or how time works so they may make a lot of unreasonable requests. You have to start learning to say no as a parent because otherwise, you won’t have anything left for yourself.
A lot of parents are afraid to be too strict with their children, but being strict from time to time can serve as a valuable lesson to them. Your kids need to know that they can’t just get anything they want and that there are times they need to wait or forget about it. For the sake of your own well-being, you need to be able to set boundaries and rules.
Make sure you’re eating enough
Being busy with your baby on a daily basis will lead you to forget about a lot of your responsibilities. However, just like sleep, you need to make sure you’re getting enough to eat throughout the day. You’re going to need the energy and the nutrition if you want to keep up with the baby, so a good diet is essential. Even if you feel like you haven’t got the appetite to eat a lot, trying your best to get enough food is vital.
It could help to speak to your doctor about a meal plan or get some tips on your diet. You’re taking on a very exhausting responsibility, so expect to have to put more effort into your own dietary needs. You won’t get by on small snacks throughout the day, and it could be a good idea to speak to someone else about getting meals sorted.