By Deanne Atkinson
Enjoy your children while they are young; they grow up so fast and the time goes in a blink of an eye.
Who hasn’t had this said to them at one stage or another during motherhood?
But when your baby is a newborn the days can be long and the nights even longer. How many of us are actually prepared for parenting? There is a huge responsibility that comes with looking after a tiny human being. So much preparation is put into the birth that often post- birth can be overlooked until you are in the thick of it, wondering what to do in the middle of the night with an unsettled baby. You can be overwhelmed with emotions questioning yourself like never before.
I recall that the lovely elderly lady across the road told me when my first child was born that babies settle down when they are forty days old. So I ending up counting the days and nights with the belief I would get a full night’s sleep in forty days.
Of course forty days came and went without any change. My baby would sleep through the night when he was ready.
The next piece of advice was “When babies start to eat solids they are easier.” So, again, there was a cycle of looking forward to the next stage and not focusing on the present.
It can become unhealthy to be so focused on what’s coming that you find yourself in survival mode just wishing the days away. The truth is babies change quickly, right before your eyes and the days and nights may feel long now but it is also a precious time and passes very quickly. Often we just need a shift in perspective to help us through.
So many new mums feel like they are just on auto pilot, with a life revolving around nappy changing, feeding and sleeping. With changing hormones, emotions can play havoc and often new mothers feel completely overwhelmed with all the demands. Major anxiety, resentment, sadness or aloneness can creep in. It’s easy to get lost in wishing away the days and moving towards an easier stage in parenting. If you are currently at a stage which feels challenging, try to find something in your day which brings delight, joy or amazement as well. It can be something small or insignificant but may be just what you need to uplift you and keep you present in the moment.
For expectant mums and dads it is important to prepare for the time beyond the birth. How are you going to manage with the changes having a baby brings to your life? What support network do you have to call upon? How are you going to parent and do you agree on similar styles of parenting? Are there some issues you need to nut out now whilst life feels calm?
There is more and more evidence that preparing for beyond the birth can help reduce feeling overwhelmed and anxious, especially in those first few months.
Start with the basics: meal preparation, cleaning and house- hold duties, lowering expectations or getting help to lighten the load. As a couple, have a discussion about how you both want to parent, what values are important to you both.
Be open with feelings especially when you are struggling.
As any mum with older children will say, the time does pass quickly and children do grow up so fast and time seems to race ahead the older they get.
They seem to need you less and are often busy and so preoccupied with friends that perhaps you may even find yourself wishing for a long night of just cuddling them and wishing time would stand still as you soak up each and every moment.