New parents dedicate their time and energy to the baby who relies on them for every aspect of their survival.
But don’t forget yourselves. Many parents say that being a parent is the toughest job they ever had. Having your sleep interrupted every night for weeks and months can make your life really difficult.
Set aside some time
It is a common complaint from new parents that they don’t have time to care for themselves. Life is quite different from when you were in the workforce and routines involved only you and your partner.
Try to remind yourselves that as new parents you have a renewed set of needs, emotionally and physically. Being mindful of your own needs is part of adjusting to the many changes that have taken place since you have become parents. Don’t be too demanding on yourselves.
To care for your baby you need to care for yourselves as a healthy you equals a healthy baby. Don’t put your own needs on the backburner as it can actually cause more problems when adjusting to your new life style.
To be able to develop and enjoy your relationship with your baby requires a generally “okay“ state of mind.
Self care means any activity that recharges us and keeps our energy and vitality going physically and mentally.
If self-care has not been one of your greatest skills in the past and you are experiencing low mood or feeling anxious, you may need to have a chat with your GP or child health nurse.
Discuss what you need with your partner or family and enjoy some activities of your choice, such as:
- walking around the block or go to the gym;
- catching up with a friend;
- getting a haircut, or visiting the beautician; or
- just having a long shower.
You might like to put a list of some of these things where it will remind you to take time for yourself each day.
Have a “calm-down” plan and practice it. If you feel angry, stressed out, annoyed or tearful, what can you do to calm yourself? Some ideas:
- phone a friend or relative
- do deep breathing exercises
- run around the garden or whatever works for you
Self care tips
Planning for a routine that ensures parental self-care is important in maintaining the family’s wellbeing.
- Share the load. Ask for help from your partner, family members or friends.
- Practice to stop and take time to think before rushing to the next task, you may notice you are hungry or in need of a rest
- Drinking eight glasses of fresh water each day – if you are dehydrated you will feel even more groggy and lethargic.
- Take cat naps when you can through the day – frequent mini-naps (5-30 minutes) or even a brief quiet time are really helpful for tired bodies.
- Keep some quick to prepare, healthy food in your fridge; for example, fruit, vegetables, cheese, or yoghurt.
- Try to grab a snack every couple of hours rather than skipping meals like breakfast and lunch.
- Keep up activities that you enjoy – listening to music, reading the news.
Want to know more?
Beyond Blue – Emotional health and wellbeing
The Raising Children Network – Looking after yourself
Pregnancy, birth and baby – Being a parent
The Women and Children Health Service have lots of resources to get help and support for parents.