Six Rules Every First Time Parent Needs to Follow

Six Rules Every First Time Parent Needs to Follow

If you are a first time parent, or about to be one, you’re probably experiencing what every other first time parent experiences: pure panic. It’s completely normal to have anxiety about how parenthood will change you and your partner’s lives. It will affect your relationships, finances, social lives, physical health, mental health and more. Take a deep breath. Even though parenting is one of the greatest challenges you will ever face, it is also the most rewarding. The transition to parenthood will be tough, but if you follow these five rules, the transition will be much smoother.

Rule 1 – Prepare
There’s no such thing as over-preparing. Before the baby is born is the best time to ready your house, your car, and your supplies. This is a good time to research and purchase essential items for your newborn (car seat, crib, diaper genie etc.). If you’re trying to save money, reach out to family and friends about inheriting hand-me-downs. You can also check out your area’s “Buy and Sell” Facebook pages for deals.

Even if you feel prepared, it never hurts to bone up on your parenting knowledge. New information regarding childrens health and development is constantly being released. Things you learned a few years ago might not be accurate anymore (remember when everyone knew Pluto was a planet?). Don’t assume you know, ensure you know. lists 16 popular parenting books, with prices ranging from $11 to $18. Some titles included are:

  • What to Expect the First Year
  • Baby Bargains
  • Parenting Beyond Pink & Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes
  • Show Dad How: The Brand-New Dad’s Guide to Baby’s First Year

Rule 2 – Communicate
Communicate as early as possible about literally everything: your relationship, your fears, raising your child, your finances, your expectations, changes you want to make. Don’t unload all at once, pick a topic at a time and begin having these conversations, the earlier the better. Once the baby is born you will both be stressed, tired, busy and cranky. You don’t want to find out your partner has opposite parenting ideas during a midnight feeding to a crying newborn when you have a migraine and the house is a disaster. The more you and your partner are on the same page, the smoother the transition to parenthood will be.

However, it is almost certain you will fight or get snippy with your partner. This is normal. Try not to hold onto this minor bickering. Focus on maintaining clear, calm and positive communication. Avoid being accusatory. If you do fight or argue, try to keep it away from your baby. Even newborns will pick up on their parents’ moods and be will be negatively affected if there’s constant fighting around them.

If you need tips on better communication strategies, check out The Path to Good Communication for Couples,  or consider seeing a couple’s therapist.

Rule 3 – Take care of yourself
First time parents become very consumed with their new responsibilities. It can be emotionally draining. You have to take care of yourself. If you’re about to tear out your hair because the breast pump is missing again, take a deep breath and schedule some alone time. Do something relaxing, like have a bath, go for a walk or read a book. Ensure this is guilt-free alone time. Take turns with your partner. Being a good parent requires sanity.

It’s common for women to struggle with postpartum depression in the first few months after childbirth. Symptoms include: lack of appetite, insomnia, extreme irritability and even difficulties bonding with the newborn. Postpartum depression may subside with time or may require help from a professional. Parenting starts with you, so don’t let your physical and mental health suffer.

Rule 4 – Take care of your relationship
You and your partner’s relationship is about to be tested like never before. It’s time to take all the lessons you’ve learned about each other and prepare yourselves. Parenting starts with you, but it relies on your relationship with your partner. Don’t fixate on your partner’s errors. So they forgot the diaper rash cream once or twice, if they are doing the best they can, then learn to let go of the small things. It’s easy to become irritable with your partner when you already feel maxed out with the baby, and it’s easy to put all your focus on the newborn. Don’t forget that you’re a team. If you feel like your relationship is beginning to suffer, you need to take a step back and analyze what’s wrong and how it can be fixed. Don’t ignore these feelings until they overwhelm you. If you wish your relationship was less tense, chances are so does your partner. Don’t feel guilty or selfish for taking time to be with each other. If you’re too overwhelmed to pay attention to your relationship, then it’s time to grow your support system.

Rule 5 – Use a support system
Utilize support from family, friends and neighbors. Make friends with other parents you meet in the community. Just because the saying “It takes a village to raise a child,” is no longer in practice, doesn’t mean you can’t still follow the example. BabyCenter features tips on meeting other new parents: at playgrounds, parent-and-baby community classes, or online. Smile Mom is a free app which has thousands of positive reviews. You can use it to chat online with other moms in your area and receive advice, arrange play dates, buy or sell baby items and share photos.

Rule 6 – Don’t be too hard on yourself
It’s common for first time parents to overreact to small things. You may be biting your nails all day wondering if that brown thing your baby ate was a piece of bread or something disgusting. A mother of three would shrug and move on. Seasoned parents know that it’s natural for infants to cry, to get sick, to fuss, to put dirty things in their mouths, to bump their heads. As long as you’re paying attention, reacting with love and affection, and doing the very best job you can do, then you’re probably doing a world of good for your child. Don’t panic, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

There’s no greater responsibility than becoming a parent, and little else can be so terrifying, demanding and rewarding all at once. You should be proud of yourself and all the good you’ve done for your family. However, if you feel the need to talk with someone about your baby or becoming a new parent, please contact us at Family & Child Development.