Today’s Parent Tip of the Week is brought to
you by Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center
It’s important that, as a new parent, you pay special attention to cultivating appreciation and sensitivity to yourself as a parent of an infant. Give yourself permission to enjoy life, feel good about yourself, and find fulfillment in yourself and your baby.
This may take practice! It can be challenging to be sensitive to yourself, especially when meeting the needs of your baby takes so much time and energy. Being caring, sensitive, and appreciative of yourself will enable you to be caring, loving, confident and sensitive with others.
Try some of the following tips to cultivate self-appreciation:
- Spend time with other family members.
- Take a few minutes each day for yourself.
- “Pat yourself on the back” for things done well.
- Take a day off from your regular routine.
Have Realistic Expectations
Be sure that you have an understanding of what kinds of behaviors are common for your baby, taking into consideration your baby’s age and special needs. If your expectations are too high, you will become frustrated when your baby doesn’t meet your expectations. Learn about infancy and the special needs your baby has through books, magazines, and other professional materials. Develop realistic expectations of yourself. Do not expect to be supermom, superdad, superhusband, or superwife — just be yourself!
Talk to Others
Seek support from your husband or wife, relatives, friends, or neighbors on a regular basis. Having someone to lend an understanding ear as you express your feelings is very important.
Look for other parents who have a new baby. They often are working through the same feelings, problems and needs. You may want to join a parent support group. If there is not one in your community, you could consider starting one.
Use Relaxation Techniques
There are many relaxation methods that can help calm you when you are feeling stress. Counting to 10 or more gives you time to think before you say or do anything. You also can do deep breathing through your nose until you feel your body relax. Don’t forget humor! If you can find something to laugh about, it helps put things in perspective.
Visualization involves picturing a calm, relaxing place that brings you peace. Going to another room for a few minutes to sit or lie down or rock in a rocking chair are other ways to restore feelings of calm. You also may want to try having a massage.
Find Respite Help
Taking regular breaks from the constant demands of caring for an infant will give you time and energy to pursue some things that you enjoy. It will be good for you and your baby to take a break from each other once in a while. Respite may come from a neighbor, friend or relative. There also are community agencies that provide respite care. Try some of the following activities while someone else is caring for your child:
- Read a book
- Have lunch with a friend
- Attend a concert
- Enjoy a hobby
- Go to a movie
- Go for a walk
Do Whatever Works for You
It is important for parents to explore any source that will help them through the stressful times of caring for an infant. Some parents turn to their religious faith for strength and support, others using calming techniques and support groups. Keep looking and try different ways until you find what works for you to reduce your stress.
Sometimes no matter what you try, you still feel like your level of stress is high. You may want to seek professional help through a counselor who can help you work through your feelings. A physician, social worker, mental health worker, or a religious organization can help you find a counselor. Look until you find one that can really help you!