Everyone says the first year is the hardest and that if you can survive that you’ll be set for the rest of parenthood. It’s a steep learning curve and an emotional rollercoaster but it is definitely an amazing journey too!
Here are my top 10 Tips for surviving the first year of parenthood…
1. Ignore Unsolicited Advice
Throughout most of your first year you’ll have all sorts of comments and ‘advice’ from friends, family and even strangers. Bottom line is, you’re the parent and you’re in charge. Ignore any stupid advice and just smile and say ‘oh thanks I’ll try that’ even when you have literally no intention of trying the stupid idea.
2. Don’t Force A Routine
This is personal preference sometimes but I know I’m much less stressed when I go with the flow with my daughter. Desperately trying to get her to nap at a specific time in the day and her fighting it constantly is just too stressful. Mostly baby’s will sleep when they’re tired as long as the conditions are right. Instead of forcing a strict routine just offer nap times throughout the day by keeping things quiet, lowering lights and giving a feed (I breastfeed and still feed our daughter to sleep for naps). I tried so many times to get a routine sorted because everyone kept telling me I should. I found forcing naps just made everything super stressful and not worth the hassle. Now that I just let my daughter take the lead for naps etc I find life a whole lot easier.
3. Share The Load
Don’t get me wrong, this may seem like an obvious one to some but in some relationships the guys can need a kick up the ass. In our baby group there were a couple of women who posted on multiple occasions about their husbands or significant others not pulling their weight. The first year is bloody hard work – hell, parenting in general is bloody hard work so you need to make sure your partner helps you. If you’re a single mummy make sure you have a good support network from friends and family. You will need a break and you will need help. Being a mum is tough and you can feel suffocated at times without the right support.
Someone coming round and watching the bubba while you shower or nap or just take a break to watch TV alone in the quiet is a lifesaver.
4. Don’t Google Symptoms
I did this on a few occasions and while sometimes Google can be a real help – I’m talking about things like ‘when will my baby crawl’ or ‘when should baby have cows milk’ etc. But Googling things like, ‘baby rash on stomach’ or ‘baby sweating in sleep’ is just asking for anxiety attacks.
I found in the first year the best thing to do was just use common sense and don’t panic about every tiny thing. Your bubs will let you know if something is really wrong. Use your gut instinct and don’t rely on doctor Google. If you really need advice then call your GP or if the situation is stressful call NHS direct. Just don’t panic and call an ambulance for a tiny spot on your child’s bum because Google said it might be meningitis.
On that note, if you do Google symptoms at least use the reputable NHS choices website rather than a random forum or health site.
5. Just Keep Going & Trust Yourself
This sounds silly but just keep going. It will feel overwhelming and be a bit of roller-coaster ride but the first year is just that… The first year. You’ve got years of parenting ahead of you and to be honest every year comes with its challenges. I’m in my 30s and still ask my mum and dad for help with things or advice on things now and again. You’ll never stop being a parent and so while I’m not suggesting you rush through the first year blindly, just take it one day at a time and just keep doing what you’re doing. As long as your child is fed, clothed and bathed you’re doing it right.