A parenting expert shares her advice on how to thrive as a new parent during the Covid-19 crisis. It's never easy being a first-time parent, and things have been even tougher during the pandemic.
Anyone with children will know how much life changes once you start a family. You probably experienced everything from elation to panic, loneliness and anxiety. But for those who welcomed a child during the crisis, those feelings may have been magnified.
"Becoming a parent for the first time is arguably one of the hardest mountains to climb, as you learn to adapt to this huge new responsibility of caring for a small baby," Lucy Shrimpton, ‘The Sleep Nanny’ and , said.
"Add a pandemic on top of this where your support network is stripped down to the bare minimum and you've got all the health and potential money worries added on top and it makes the challenge even harder."
There are plenty of new mums and dads who have been through this in the past few months and found a way to make the best of a difficult situation.
1. Don't feel you have to invite people round to visit, just because they're desperate to see your baby. It's up to you and when you and your partner are ready. If you're worried about people potentially accidentally bringing Covid-19 into your home, be honest about it.
2. Stay connected. Thankfully we've got the technology to keep us connected - with Zoom calls, Houseparty, and WhatsApp. If you're ever feeling lonely or isolated, reach out to a friend or family member for a chat. Even if it's just for 10 minutes, you'll feel better.
3. Make sure you spend plenty of one-on-one time with your baby and your partner so you can appreciate all the small, but enormous, things that happen in those first few months.
4. Sleep is one of the biggest problems that new parents face, whether that's in a pandemic or not! Get them into a routine nice and early, at the same time and place each evening. Keep nap times consistent. If you're struggling, reach out to a professional sleep consultant to help.
5. If you're having trouble breastfeeding (or your partner is), please don't beat yourself up, for some, it is just harder or impossible. Speak honestly to your health visitor or reach out to a breastfeeding consultant. Don't suffer in silence or feel like you're a bad parent.
6. Try not to focus on anything outside of your home that you can't control - whether that's work or the current pandemic situation. The news can make you feel even more anxious and now's the time you need to look after yourself.
7. Your partner is likely to be the main person you're going to see for a rather long time so try to be patient and understanding. This can be tough, especially with plenty of sleepless nights added in, but you need each other right now so if you feel a row coming on, take a deep breath and get some space.
8. Once you're feeling ready make sure you take regular exercise and some fresh air outside for a walk, it'll make you feel better. Once your baby is big enough, consider joining groups that you can do together, such as baby massage, swimming or mum and baby yoga.
9. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to be the perfect parent. Your home will probably be a mess those first few months. If someone offers to come and help tidy up, let them!