1) Take care of yourself
To be able to look after your children well, you need to look after yourself well. Keep a fit body and mind; and make time for activities that make you feel good. Start by making a list of the things you enjoy, and make sure you regularly take the time to do them. Important things like meeting a friend for a coffee, or going for a walk – then for each item listed, work out a practical way of making it possible (baby sitter, crèche, buying a new baby carrier, etc)
2) Remember the good times
After the birth of your baby, your emotions are so overwhelming you can’t believe there’ll ever be a time when you’ll forget them, but there will be! So make an effort to remember those happy early days: they can give you a real boost when you’re struggling with a baby that won’t sleep, or a tantrum throwing 2 year old. Start a ‘memory album’ with photos, lockets of hair, newspaper cuttings from your baby’s birth day or even his first baby grow.
3) Get help when you need it
Talk over any worries or difficult childcare options with someone you trust, perhaps a parent, a good friend, or a professional health visitor. Parenting helplines can also be good and try and make friends with parents who have babies the same age as yours – it’ll put your worries into perspective. The NCT mother and baby groups are great for meeting new mums, or ask your health visitor for other ideas. And remember, advice is great for making an informed decision, but it is subjective! Trust your own choices too.
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4) Work on your relationship
Having a new baby will transform your relationship with your partner. But stability and understanding as a couple will give your children a great foundation from which to grow happily. Spend time alone together, even if for a few minutes every day. And as regularly as you can, find a friend to babysit, go out together. Ask for what you want! Your partner is not a mind reader and believe or not, neither are you! So learn to communicate. Talk about your feelings. Share how you feel about work, family and friends, and most importantly, the new baby who is now a big part of your life.
- Find time to laugh
- Make a budget you can agree on
- If you row frequently, as a couple, try and find a way of bringing your discussions to a resolution without arguing. Your children will see and hear your rows and might try and solve their problems in a similar way.
5) Learn to deal with stress
When you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, even the smallest of life’s hiccups can cause you to lose your rag! But learning to deal with stress will really help you become a better parent. Take time to do everyday activities, even if they take much longer with a child in tow. Think whether an issue is really worth getting stressed about. Try and relax about situations you just can’t change. And think positively – an ‘I can do this’ attitude will encourage you to make positive life decisions. And if all else fails, try one of these tips when you’re about to lose you cool:
- Phone a friend
- Get some fresh air
- Count to 10 (or 20!)
- Laugh out loud, even if you don’t feel like it
- Play your favourite music – the louder the better!