They say new parents should seek help from family, friends and neighbors. That’s putting it lightly.
I’m not going to lie to you. Your first year with your baby is going to be the hardest thing you ever do. It’s awesomely rewarding, but prepare yourself. People will offer help. Don’t turn them away. If only a few people offer, go seek out more now, before the wee one arrives. Kidnap a college student if you have to, but make sure your support system is in place. Here’s what you should have them do:
- Have them cook food in advance and bring it over. I’m talking a week’s worth of meals that can be stuck in the freezer and nuked or heated in the oven quickly and easily. You’ll be too tired to cook for yourself.
- Have them do the shopping. Not just for the baby, but for you, too. Food, diapers, toothpaste, etc. If you prefer a certain brand or organic stuff, tell them. Don’t expect them to just know you wanted Goldfish crackers instead of Cheez-Its.
- Have them clean the house. I know it sucks to ask them to do that, but it needs to be done and, once again, you’ll be too tired to do it. I don’t mean you won’t want to. I mean you physically won’t be able to lift a broom.
- After all that, have them hold/watch the baby. You’ll be up every two hours all day and night. Not an exaggeration. Every two hours, if you’re lucky. That’s how often newborns need to feed. Have them keep an eye on the little fella so you can catch a nap or cry in a corner.
- And tell them to leave. Whoever is helping you will get burned out quick. Don’t fry them permanently. Make sure they take breaks or don’t stay too many days in a row.
After the first few months, you should seek out a support group or some other sort of parent/child activity. Every city has different types of organizations where you can find like-minded parents with whom you can hang out and who can help with your baby. (Of course, you’ll be helping with theirs, too.) If you have the means, a nanny would be ideal. But, you could also research co-op day care or sharing a childcare provider with a neighbor or neighbors. And remember, no matter how unsure you feel at any time during the process, trust me, you’re doing fine.
I don’t mean to scare you. It really is great, especially once you make it to the 14-16 month mark. That’s when you go from feeling like you’re just triaging childcare to feeling like a real mommy or daddy. That’s around the age they really start to play with you. And by then, you’ll also feel a little more confident or, at the very least, the antidepressants will have kicked in.