My brother recently told me that he and his wife are expecting their first child. A little girl. I was elated to hear the news. But I didn’t leave much time for celebration before I jumped into mama mode. I felt compelled to offload everything I wish I had known.
You hear so much advice during pregnancy, “sleep when the baby sleeps”, “don’t plan on getting anything else done in the beginning”, “be kind to yourself”. None of this is bad advice, but there are more bases to be covered.
Divide the responsibilities.
When that baby comes home, they bring A LOT of new responsibilities with them. Their needs are around the clock and if you don’t set some expectations around the division of labor, it’s easy for one person to take on more than their fair share. If you have someone to split the task list with, be deliberate about splitting up the work. I literally made a ‘night duty’ schedule and discussed how we would divide up chores like laundry, dishes, and baby supply orders.
It’s also important not to discount the mental workload of caring for a baby. Make sure you are thinking about who is in charge of making sure the diaper bag is fully stocked before a day with Grammy. Those things take time and energy too!
This division of labor might not look the same for everyone, and it should take into account other non-baby responsibilities. If one person is back to work, maybe they do fewer night shifts. It doesn’t have to look the same for every household, but it’s important that everyone be on the same page to avoid any feelings of resentment.
When someone offers to help, let them!
During a global pandemic, this one is a little harder. However, there are still ways people can help from a distance. If someone offers to drop off a meal, let them!
If someone offers to do laundry or help tidy up your living room (and you feel safe doing so), let them! Or even just hold your baby so you can go take a nap or have a shower. Let them help!
Accepting help doesn’t mean you can’t handle everything on your own, it just means you get to focus your energy on the things only you can do.
Don’t let anyone else be your measuring stick.
Especially in the beginning, you will likely be questioning every choice you make. You’ll be wondering if you are doing this whole parenting thing right. Well, don’t spend one more minute worrying. What that baby needs most is love and you’ve got more than enough of that to go around.
Every parent will make choices that are right for them and their baby. Don’t let what anyone else is doing steer you off your path. Parenting is not one size fits all, so don’t try to fit into anyone else’s mold.