By Lisa Pecos
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have, and no stage is more difficult than the first few months with your first child. It is easy to be led astray by misguided assumptions and poorly thought-out plans, and it is practically impossible to completely avoid making any mistakes. Parenting is after all a learning process, but you can avoid some of the most common mistakes simply by being aware of them in advance. Here are seven of the most common issues that arise for first-time parents.
1. Not sleeping
Everyone knows that new parents are commonly sleep deprived, but it does not have to be so bad. Especially if you and your spouse can find ways to share the load and balance your time, then you should be able to get close to your usual amount of sleep every day. Granted, the sleep may be patchy and at unconventional times, but you can get it if you try.
2. Unrealistic time expectations
Many new parents like to think that they will still have plenty of free time when the baby is sleeping or entertaining herself, but you might be surprised by how much of your time is occupied by baby-related tasks even when the baby is asleep. Yes, you should be able to preserve at least some of your personal time, but it may not be as much as you expect.
3. Believing everything you hear
There is a lot of parenting advice out there, and while most of it is harmless, the advice-givers are not always consistent in what they say. Rather than listening to and believing everything you see, try to formulate your own philosophy about parenting, and then listen only to those experts whose beliefs are in line with yours. Also keep in mind that some so-called “parenting experts” are not all they claim to be. Listen to your doctor first and foremost.
4. Spouse neglect
There is no getting around the fact that your baby will be the center of attention in your household, and not just for the first few weeks or months. Parents have to be willing to give up much of themselves in order to care for a child, and this will last until the child is old enough to be independent. For now, try not to let your child get in the way of your connection with your spouse. Find time to talk, to snuggle up without the baby, and to keep your sex life going. Otherwise, bad feelings may develop, and this can affect the entire household.
Many new parents spend so much time reading and worrying about all the things that can wrong with a new child that they become all but convinced that bad things are inevitable. Any time you suspect that something may be wrong with your child, it is best to listen to your intuition and take the child to your doctor as soon as possible. But try not to let your paranoia project problems that are not there, or else you will just make yourself crazy.
Although we do not like to admit it, much of what we buy for a newborn baby is more for the parents’ benefit than the child’s. A newborn baby does not need much more than loving parents and a place to sleep, so you do not have to deplete your bank account in preparation for the birth. Get the things you need, and do not forget that you can get a lot of the non-necessities after the baby is born.
7. Losing perspective
First-time parents tend to get wrapped up in the life-changing nature of the event, and as a result they risk seeing the birth of their baby as a much more momentous event than it actually is. Of course, it is one of the most important events in your life, but it is not such a big deal outside of your family. Try to keep things in perspective by reminding yourself that babies are born every day, and do not take it personally when others do not share your wild enthusiasm for your child.