Keys to surviving the first few months of parenthood

Colorful set of keys

1. Figure out your baby’s schedule instead of trying to make your baby conform to yours.

Lots of parents sit down and make a schedule for life with a newborn. But the newborn has no idea that you have this expectation, and they have their own will. When my youngest was born, I chose to put my daughter in afternoon kindergarten, thinking that this baby would take a morning nap like her sisters did and I could go run errands during afternoon kindergarten. She had other ideas, and I had two choices: Take a cranky baby out on errands with me during kindergarten, or honor her normal rhythm and just let her nap in the afternoons. Initially I chose the first, but within weeks, I made my life easier and just rolled with her routine.

2. Find your people – those who parent similarly to you but don’t try to force you to conform to any set parenting method.

New parents need support. Yet so many mom groups are full of criticism and the “there’s one right way to do it!” approach. Reject that school of thought and cultivate an appreciation for a variety of parenting styles, even if that’s not what feels best to you. Look for and connect with other parents who are similar in approach to you and also have acceptance of the idea that there are many different ways to be a good parent.

3. Let your partner do things differently.

You’ve figured out a really effective way to calm your baby and get her to sleep. That’s awesome! Your partner wants to do things completely different. Maybe their way of doing things is less effective. Let them be less effective. Let them find their own way to parent. It’s actually really good for babies to learn to deal with different ways of doing things. Plus, if you push too hard for your partner to do everything your way, you may find your partner loses all motivation to carry any of the load.

4. Lower expectations

Remember that your new baby takes quite a bit of time and energy, so you’re not going to be able to do everything you did before the baby at the same level that you used to do it. It’s okay if your home doesn’t look 100% clean 100% of the time. It’s okay if you redistribute the balance of household chores in your relationship. Remember the goal is happy relationships, not perfection. So embrace frozen meals, takeout, and some clutter!

5. Take time for you and your relationship

Maybe this is just arranging things with your partner so you can take a long uninterrupted shower every day. Maybe it’s hiring a babysitter and going out to dinner with your partner. Maybe it means disconnecting from your phones and snuggling up with a movie after the baby is in bed. Taking time to nourish your soul and your relationship will make you a better parent.

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