Becoming a parent is a significant life transition. Along with the joy of being a new parent also comes lack of sleep, role changes, an altered routine, and the responsibility of nurturing and providing for a new life. Whether it be your first child or your fifth, welcoming a little one into the family can result in a lack of self-care as you put your baby’s needs above your own.
Though it is important to tend to your baby’s needs and serve as a consistent caregiver for them, self-care is essential for new parents.
When I work with parents, I often ask what they are doing for self-care. The typical response I receive is either a blank stare or a laugh followed by, “who has time for that!” It is normal for us, especially parents, to forgo self-care in order to ensure our kids are bathed, dressed, fed, and on time for school, practice, and tutoring. However, self-care can actually help us be a better parent.
When we take time to tend to our own needs, we can then better serve our children and their needs.
Think about the safety instructions we receive when traveling on an airplane. We are told to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others. The same applies to self-care. If we deprive ourselves of care, we will not be able to continue providing quality care for others.
Below are a few practical ways new parents can engage in self-care:
- Let your partner, friend, or family member care for your baby while you take a moment to get out of the house
- Take a shower or a bath
- Go on a walk and listen to your favorite song, podcast, or the sounds of nature
- Allow friends to bring meals to your home
- Diffuse calming essential oils such as lavender
- Join new parent support groups
- Allow yourself space to talk about not only the joys of parenthood but also the difficulties of caring for a newborn
- Grant yourself permission to take time to adjust to your new normal
- Call your close friend or mentor and share your honest thoughts and feelings with them
- Treat yourself to your favorite food, television show, or movie
Findings ways to integrate self-care into your week can help your mental, physical, and spiritual health as you navigate your new role as a parent.
Interested in making space to process this life transition and continue learning about self-care? One of our therapists here at GROW Counseling will happily meet with you and partner alongside you as you enter this new phase of life.
Written By: Mary Anne Sylvester