Adjusting to parenthood begins in pregnancy and continues throughout the child’s life. Learning to be a parent is a slow process made up of physical and emotional demands. Below are some tips to help you adjust.
- Be flexible. The best-made plans may need to be changed. Find a routine that is comfortable for you and family members.
- Communicate. Take time to talk with your husband, the baby’s father, or other support person about day-to-day life. If you are part of a couple, go out as a couple and keep your romance alive.
- Take care of yourself. Meeting your own personal needs helps you meet the needs of other family members.
- Make rest and sleep a priority.
- Get away by yourself for some personal time.
- Don’t be “house proud.” Let housework slide and enjoy your baby.
- Use your resources and ask family and friends for help.
- Share your feelings with other new parents.
- Take advantage of community services, such as family centers, play groups, babysitting co-ops, and other programs like Mother’s Day Out.
Helping older children adjust
The birth of a new baby is always a time of change for older children.
Make the new baby seem real by letting your other children:
- Feel the baby move
- Talk to the baby close to your belly
- Help choose names for the baby
- Help you get the baby’s room ready
- Come to your prenatal appointment to listen to the baby’s heart beat
Keep your other children from feeling left out by letting them:
- Bring a stuffed animal or other gift to the new baby when visiting the hospital
- Attach their picture to the baby’s crib
- Pass out pink or blue lollipops at day care center or school
- Have a special gift you got just for them
- Hold the new baby after washing their hands well
Take time to adjust by having your partner, a family member, or a friend care for the infant so you can spend time with your older children. Expect it to take 6 weeks or longer to get used to having a baby in the family. Most importantly, enjoy your family.
Reviewed January 2011