In my experience, what works for some parents doesn’t work for others. I have more than 27 years’ experience with babies, toddlers, children and newborns. I have travelled the world to nanny, work in child care centres, night nurse and work as a maternity nurse (mothercraft nurse) both in homes and hospitals. I have helped hundreds of families and spent many nights pacing with a baby in my arms.
This has given me a unique insight into different parents with different parenting styles – but if there are mistakes to be made as a new parent, these would be my top three.
I have had a lot of clients who have prepared as much as they can before birth. They have the nursery decked out with everything they think they need even if they aren’t really sure – they have ‘one’ of everything, just in case. This is the first mistake but it isn’t easy when you don't know what to expect after the baby is born. It is my opinion that you only need the basics and you can get the rest as you go. It is quite simple to cater for a new born and you don’t need to spend the earth to do it. A new parent needs to think about their lifestyle, do some online research, eliminate and choose products to look at when they do go shopping, and try not to overwhelm themselves with every product on the market.
New mothers have just been through one of the scariest, uncertain, emotional rollercoasters as you enter parenthood – the birth.
You are trying to bond with a little human that you are to love, support and protect and you have no idea how to do that. You have to feed this little being and make sure he/she is nourished and healthy. You are learning to breast feed, change nappies and dress a baby who doesn’t really help in any way and you feel like you are going to break him/her. You feel like you are ill equipped for this job. You have to learn how to bath this small helpless person without drowning him/her and you are so scared because you doubt yourself and your abilities. You are learning but you think that it is maternal and instinctual and therefore you should know what to do already!
Don't doubt yourself and remember that every parent is learning as they go. Like I said before it is a matter of trial and error a lot of the time.
When baby comes, it is time for the visitors and the onslaught of opinions. This is a difficult situation to navigate when every new parent is at their most vulnerable.
A new parent is bamboozled with information and ideas, opinions and the good old “Well, what we did was…”. It is too much for a new parent but they listen and then try everything that they have been told. There is some good advice and some bad, but a new parent shouldn't have to sort out the bad from the good as they adapt to life as a new parent. All it does is help create anxious parents and in turn an anxious baby.
There is a continuous pattern that then feeds on from this scenario that has just been painted for you and it usually ends in tears for a new mother. She is unsure of herself. Her world as she knew it has changed and she is doubtful. The father is so uncertain. He can’t find the answers to help the situation so he feels helpless. The baby is usually a little unsettled but knows it is loved and cared for because that is all the parents are doing 24/7 and they are exhausted.
While I know that every child is different and there are so many different types of parenting styles, these three ‘mistakes’ are those most new parents make.
I wish more new parents would take a step back and give themselves a pat on the back for managing to get through this difficult time and remember that every parent has once been in their shoes. I hope that they see the bigger picture and realise that this too will pass but also to reach out and ask for help if they are struggling with any of the ‘parenting stuff’. It is okay to ask of help and is better than exhausting yourself!