Life as a new parent is full of so much joy – cute newborn outfits, baby snuggles, and watching something that you’ve created from scratch grow and turn into your little mini-me. You’ve entered a stage of your adult life where you’re now responsible for another life, which is extremely rewarding but can also cause a lot of stress. Knowing where to start and how to run your ship can be confusing and anxiety-inducing for both new moms and dads.
Studies show that 1 in 4 women struggle with poor mental health during their pregnancy and within 24 months after giving birth, and 40% of dads surveyed in the US don’t believe they’re being empowered in their homes. Those are scary numbers, but they need to be talked about more often. The best thing you can do for yourself – and for your little one – is to look after yourself. Here are a few ways to take care of your mental health as a new parent.
Finding your tribe
One of the most important things you can do as a new parent is build your support system, (aka find your tribe). Asking for help doesn’t make you a bad parent. It actually makes you a really good one. The more support and experience you surround yourself with, the more in control you’ll feel. You’ve heard the term “it takes a village to raise a child” — that’s as true today as it ever was.
The first place to look for your tribe is your immediate friends and family. They’re more than likely itching to help out, so take advantage. Whether it’s asking for advice or having someone join you and your little one for a walk in the park your tribe is there to help.
We know not everyone has a big family or friend group, and that’s also okay. Just because your circle isn’t big doesn’t mean you can’t also find the support you need. There are tons of online communities, like our own Facebook Group, with like-minded parents looking for a little help. Facebook is also a great tool for finding local communities so you can eventually meet up with other parents in person, too.
And if Facebook isn’t your thing, there are a bunch of other parenting apps available for finding your tribe nowadays. One of our favorites is Peanut. It’s a social networking app specifically designed to connect women across fertility and motherhood.
Having a tribe helps alleviate stressors involved with being a new parent. Questions will be answered, babysitters will be found, life will be a touch easier.
Scheduling your day — with flexibility
A regular schedule can help bring a little calm to the chaos of being a new parent. It gives you and your little one a sense of stability and allows you to get a handle on your day.
Unfortunately, newborns don’t run on a schedule. But that doesn’t mean having any kind of routine is out the window. Routines are essential for newborns as they help them establish their circadian rhythm (internal clock) which means easier bedtimes as they grow.
No, this doesn’t mean writing everything down by the hour as newborns don’t operate this way. But it does mean building out daily habits and rituals that both of you can rely on. These habits can range from helping them stretch out their joints in the morning, to afternoon walks, to night time belly rubs and white noise.
Once you get through the first 5-6 months and they start to fall into a stable pattern for eating and sleeping, you can build out a more structured routine for other parts of the day – like morning and afternoon activities, and forming a bedtime routine.
As your schedule starts to become more consistent, be sure to include time with the Moshi app for your little one. Whether it’s soothing music at nap time or white noise at bedtime, Moshi helps kids fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
And what could you do with that free time? Focus on yourself! Here are some quick me-time activities to help you stay balanced:
5 quick ‘me time’ activities for new parents
- 5-minute meditation/yoga/stretch to release tension in the body and mind
- Aromatherapy in a quiet space with soothing music
- Phone call with a close friend to make sure you stay connected
- Daily journaling to help understand and manage your feelings
- Enjoy your favorite snack without sticky little fingers asking for some
Being a new parent is amazing but also terrifying – and exhausting. You never know if what you’re doing is right and most likely feel like you can’t ask for help, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.