Accepting help with a new baby
New parents leaving hosptial with a baby may be wondering how they can be the perfect parent at the same time as keeping on top of the daily chores, looking after other siblings … never mind finding time for their partner and themselves.
We often think we will cope just fine when baby comes, but the reality is that the first few months of being a parent are often exhausting and overwhelming. But, sadly, in our society we’ve become conditioned to equate asking for help with admitting weakness, when in reality there is no shame in reaching out to others for support.
The good news is that everyone who really cares for you does want to help you in your new role as parents, but until baby arrives it can be hard to know just how much help you’re going to need. So how can we survive everything parenthood throws at us when a new baby arrives? Here are some tips to help you stay sane in those early days.
Keep the family calendar visible
Having a calendar accessible means that you and family/friends could plan when help is abundant (particularly in the first weeks) and when you’ll need extra support.
Planning family meals can take away a great deal of stress. What can be grabbed from the freezer and can anyone drop round a lasagne once a week? Which nights will you treat yourself to a take away? Once it’s written down you can delegate meal times to whoever is around to help out in those early days.
Is someone helping out with your other children while you get through the first few weeks? Make sure that goes on the calendar too. By writing it down for all to see, everyone is on the same page and knows the plan without mum having to constantly be asked (or woken up for an answer).
It’s also a huge help to a new mum in that she doesn’t have to think about the schedule over and over. Those early days are filled with sleeplessness and the less brain power needed for planning the better!
Write down household tasks
If you have specific housekeeping tasks that must be completed, write those down for your helpers to see.
Alternatively you could steer those close to you towards gifts that will create time for you, because that’s what you’ll really need after the baby arrives. Asking friends to chip in to get you a housecleaning service or an extra pair of hands to look after the older children (or let you get a nap) can be worth more to you than endless gifts of babygrows.
Be willing to ‘bend’ a little
It is hard for some mums to accept help from others because they are so used to doing things themselves or they really like their own methods best. For the first time mother, it’s hard to realize you really can’t do it all.
Whether it’s your own mother, mother in law, sister or family friend, be willing to ‘bend’ on your standards for a little while. It is okay if the older kids don’t make it to bed until 7:45 and their bedtime is 7:30 sharp. And life will go on if the plates aren’t stacked in the dishwasher in the order you prefer them.
Let your friends and family enjoy the days with you.
Book your friends, family or even a babysitter in advance to help you with the baby or to take you to any appointments you have after the birth. People realize how hard it can be just to get out of the door with a new baby. Booking support in advance means that you won’t be scrambling to find someone to help you out at the last minute. Don't forget everyone loves a little cuddle with a new born, so don't feel bad for asking.
A good idea is to register with a babysitting agency before the baby arrives. Registering with Sitters is free and means that if you need an extra pair of hands, or simply want to find out more about the babysitters available in your local area, you simply enter your postcode and you’ll be able to start browsing suitable babysitters for your children.
Finally, don’t be so hard on yourself. The saying ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ is never truer than when a new family member comes along. Accepting help can give you time to look after yourself so that you can look after your family.