There is no ‘one size fits all’ set of rules to follow which will make being a new parent easy

Do we really need another ‘tips for new parents’ article? If you’re searching for that golden piece of advice that will create a peaceful and ordered home, and a baby who sleeps on cue and never cries, well then, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ set of rules to follow which will make being a new parent easy.

“Help!” you yell. “I’m overwhelmed and confused by all the conflicting advice out there, what must I do?” Never fear, because we’ve spoken to parents who’ve been there before, and asked for their one nugget of advice (that they only learned in hindsight) and summed it up here for your benefit. This is the wisdom that we wish someone had shared with us when we were holding our squirming newborn and wondering how on earth we were going to get through the next few months.

 Forget your pride. Accept help

You may have thought that you had it all together before you had kids. A good job, an organised schedule, a beautiful home. And then a tiny human arrived and WHAM, everything went haywire…

While it’s tempting to pretend that you’re some sort of natural supermom or dad, this pretence helps nobody and actually ends up hurting you. Someone offers to look after your baby for two hours? Say yes and take yourself off for a nap. A friend offers to drop off some meals? Wonderful. Remind yourself that your village is there to help you through this period (they actually want to!), so accept whatever wonderful support that’s offered.

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Find one trusted source of advice. Hone your instincts

Try and block out the noise. Everyone who has had a baby before (and even those who haven’t!) will tell you how you SHOULD be doing things. It may have worked for them, but this doesn’t mean that it will work for you.

After a short while, you’ll be able to identify which person or information source fits with your outlook and parenting style, so take on their advice, and ignore everyone else’s (some medical aid programmes like Fedhealth offer free helplines which you can call with your paediatric questions).

Finally, while it may be difficult at first, learn to sit quietly with your thoughts, and hone in on your parenting instincts. You were biologically designed to succeed at this, so listen to your gut.

Don’t compare yourself to other parents

Social media has made this extremely challenging. Every Instagram feed is filled with pictures of adorable sleeping babies wrapped in fashionable pristine blankets, or mothers who are already back in shape eight weeks after giving birth. THIS IS NOT REAL, it’s a brief snapshot of a moment, which was probably carefully constructed.

Comparing yourself to your friend whose baby is already sleeping through the night will only add to the pressure. Stop scrolling, put your phone down, and walk away.

 WIT (whatever it takes)

Those first few weeks of completely different sleep patterns are brutal. “Never put the baby in bed with you!”. “Put them down awake, don’t rock them!”. Everyone will have a piece of advice for you (see above), but in the beginning especially, know that you have the freedom to do whatever it takes (WIT) to get them to sleep, taking care of yourself in the process.

Whether it’s baby wearing to the shops, bouncing on a Pilates ball in the dark or driving around the neighbourhood at nap time, know that you have permission to use any means possible to make those first few weeks easier for yourself and your baby.

Accept that it’s hard

So much of our resentment as new parents is to do with how we perceived parenting before we had kids. Many people gloss it over or idealise those early months. But if you know deep down that it’s not going to be easy, and if you adjust your expectations when it comes to everything, from how much sleep you can survive on, to the neatness of your house, then you’re less likely to be disappointed.

Most of all, as you’re sitting in the dark at 3am with a niggly baby, just know that it won’t always be like this. It too will pass. It’s also important to acknowledge that there are a million other moms or dad around the world currently doing the same difficult thing that you’re doing. You are not alone.