Tag Archive for: First Time Parents

It was 3 AM. Our two-week-old son, Strider, was crying for the third time that night. To say we were exhausted was an understatement. We were full-blown zombies ready to eat each other alive.

“Why is he CRYING LIKE THIS when I’m trying to change his diaper?” my husband yelled.

“Because he is a HELPLESS INFANT WHO DOESN’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING,” I yell back.

“WELL WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?” he yells again.

“BECAUSE YOU’RE YELLING AND HE’S YELLING AND I JUST WISH NONE OF US WERE YELLING!”

On and on this went. We were literally yelling about yelling.

I didn’t expect the birth of our child to birth so much tension in our marriage. 

To give you a little context, my husband and I are both pretty laid-back. It takes a lot to fluster us and make us mad, especially with each other. But somehow, after having a baby, the nursery became our war zone.

I thought that once Strider grew a little and started sleeping better, the feelings of frustration between us would subside.

Nope. In fact, the tension grew with him.

“Why did you put the same onesie on him again?”

Why are you holding him like that?”

He’s clearly upset, why are you still trying to play?”

“Can you do bathtime any faster? It’s already past his bedtime!”

With every new milestone Strider reached, there was something new for us to pick each other apart over.

Finally, we had an epiphany: we hadn’t been on a date in over 4 months, and after having a baby, sex and intimacy were nearly nonexistent in our marriage.

Yep. Somehow in the hustle and bustle of having a baby and trying to care for him, we genuinely lost sight of each other and stopped taking care of us.

This was a huge problem. How could we build a loving relationship with our son if our own relationship was falling apart? And how could we give him the strong loving home he deserves?

Looking back, there are 3 things I wish I had done differently after Strider was born:

Praise my husband for being the awesome dad he is. 

Maybe it’s maternal instinct, but I genuinely felt like I was the only one capable of taking care of our baby well. I had some real Mama Bear feelings over my little cub, and everyone else was a threat to his well-being, even his dad. I wish Id taken the time to enjoy seeing my husband become a parent with me and praise him for all the ways he took care of our son because he really is an awesome dad. Just because he doesn’t do certain things the exact same way as I do them doesn’t mean he’s wrong or a bad parent.

Schedule a date night 4-6 weeks after birth. 

We came home from the hospital in total SURVIVAL MODE. My husband and I were literally just trying to keep this tiny little human alive. We had zero time to think about ourselves, each other, or our marriage. Before we knew it, our little boy was over 4 months old, and we had spent 4 months living in the same house but not really connecting with each other.  Scheduling a date night would have helped us to relax, reconnect and recharge. Plus, it would help us to mentally keep our marriage as the utmost priority, even before our relationship with our son. After all, if we’re not healthy and thriving, how can we set a positive example and love him well?

Stop the resentment. 

Breastfeeding makes it difficult to take night shifts. I felt like my husband couldn’t get up in the middle of the night to take care of our screaming child because our child didn’t need him as much as he needed me. I had the goods that he couldn’t provide. Naturally, I started to resent him for sleeping through the loud wails and getting more than 2.5 hours of sleep at a time. The resentment grew when I saw the dishwasher needed to be unloaded, the bed needed to be made and someone needed to get groceries! How could I do it all with little to no sleep? Plus work full-time, mind you. 

The answer, I’ve now realized, is that I’m not supposed to do it all. I’m supposed to ask my dear sweet husband, love of my life, the father of my child, to help me out. I’m supposed to be open with him and tell him how I’m feeling. Once I finally did that, we worked out a great schedule where he would change diapers in the middle of the night, and I would feed our baby. This helped me to not feel so alone. We also created a list of needs around the house on a daily and weekly basis, and we assign tasks for those. I’ve learned he’s very visual and having a list with exactly what he needs to do is a great motivator.

After we took these steps in our marriage (and Strider started sleeping longer stretches at night) we were able to work together as a team and support each other when we needed it most. 

Late nights full of crying, tension, and maybe a little yelling are bound to happen during the transitional phase of bringing a baby home. Just remember to fight for your marriage, not against each other. Babies are the best. They really are. They’re so sweet and cuddly and they need you to survive. Just remember the best gift you can give them is a healthy, thriving marriage.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from AdobeStock.com

Tips for First-Time Parents:

1. Do not feel guilty when you leave the kids to go to work—being “present” during the time you are around is what matters most!

2. Set up a few daily rituals to do with your children, like story time, bedtime snuggles, bath time, or preparing breakfast together. This way, they feel secure and confident that you will always be there for those special moments, even if you are working for the majority of the day.

3. Every child develops at a different pace; it is not a competition. So don’t worry if your child is not the first to walk, potty train, talk, or read; they will do it all, eventually!

4. Always speak to your children the way you would want to be spoken to. Teaching good manners at a young age sets the stage for being good humans.

5. Encourage your children to do things for themselves, like getting dressed, helping prepare meals, et cetera. This way they gain a true sense of independence at a young age.

6. Don’t fret about leaving your children for a romantic getaway with your spouse every once in a while. Maintaining a strong, healthy bond in your marriage is essential to being the best parent.

7. Do not hide anything from your children. Be open and honest with them, as you will want them to feel safe to have open communication with you.

8. Teach your children to live from love and not from fear, through your own actions, so that they grow up with the strength and motivation to fulfill their dreams.

9. A happy mother makes for happy children, so always make time for yourself. It’s important to carve out this “me time” to be the best version of yourself.

10. Remember that we are all human, and are constantly learning, so there is no such thing as the perfect parent. Simply be the best you can be, always keep an open mind, and never pass judgment on others’ parenting. We are all different, and that is what makes the world so great.

11. There are things you aren’t going to know, and that no blog, class or book can adequately prepare you for. But, don’t worry. You WILL figure it out and be and amazing parent.

Read the original article here: https://www.vogue.com/article/tips-for-first-time-parents

It’s your first child. Naturally, you’re going to be highly motivated to pull out all the stops, learn all the tricks and be the “perfect” parent. Since your child doesn’t come with an owner’s manual, you’ll more than likely rely on friends, family, the internet and your own ideas about what’s appropriate and what to expect from your child.

Dr. Kevin Leman, author of First-Time Mom, says many first-timers who are trying to be great parents push their firstborn a little too hard. There’s a tendency to approach parenting from the perspective of raising the perfect child. Unfortunately, the child often gets buried underneath those high expectations and can feel as if they never measure up.

“Your firstborn child is already going to be highly motivated,” says Leman. “Instead of using conditional love and asking them to continually jump through new hoops, choose to be a nurturing, encouraging presence.”

Leman identifies 10 traps first-time parents often fall into:

A critical eye.

Be aware of your standard of behavior. When is the last time you had a perfect day? Children are the same way. Training takes time and the standard is not perfection. Accept your child as he is and recognize that he is not going to excel at everything.

Overcommitment.

Children want to be a part of a family and they want to identify with their home. When you choose to live an overcommitted life, you are training your child to identify her heart with what is outside the home.

Not enough Vitamin N. 

First-time parents often fall into the trap of thinking that they can make their child happier and better adjusted by what they give to their child and the experiences they provide for their child. Vitamin N stands for No! Too often, giving our child things becomes a substitute for being their parents.

Lack of Vitamin E.

One of the biggest myths today is the concern over self-esteem. Instead of telling your child how wonderful she is just for being a child, you want to teach your child to think in a constructive, positive manner. Esteem comes from accomplishing something and from giving something back. If a child learns how to do something and her parents comment about what a great job she did, she recognizes that the most significant people in my life – my mom and dad – notice what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished and recognize that I have a role to play.

Playing the competition game.

Human development is not a race. Early development does not guarantee that a child will be above average her entire life. Instead of comparing your child, enjoy him.

Overexcitement.

As a first-time parent, you will go through many trials and anxieties for the first time. Babies do best with calm, confident parents. It gives them a sense of security, serenity and peace. Your baby will take his cues from you. Don’t treat minor instances like they are life and death occurrences.

Over-discipline. 

As a first-time parent you may not be as familiar with age-appropriate behavior. As a result, you’re more likely to over-discipline your child. Your goal is not to control your child, but to be in authority in a healthy way. One mother told how her 9-month-old walked up to the couch and grabbed some decorative pillows. The mom said she told her daughter not to throw them on the floor. The child looked her straight in the eyes and threw them on the floor. Instead of recognizing this as age-appropriate behavior, the mother viewed it as intentionally defiant behavior on the part of her child.

Under-discipline.

The flip side of over-discipline is letting your child do whatever they want without any consequences. With firstborns in particular, you need to lay out exactly what the age-appropriate rules are and follow up. Since firstborns don’t have an older sibling to model behavior, you must be specific about what you want them to do.

Letting other people raise your child.

It is too easy to give into your parents’ or in-laws’ advice. As a first time parent, it may take you awhile to assume your role as a full-fledged adult. You are the parent. No one knows your child better than you. Be responsible for the decisions you make in raising your child.

Allowing your child to be the center of the universe.

Up until age two a child’s favorite word is “mine,” which is totally appropriate. Past this age, teach children how to share and interact with a variety of other children. Teach your child to be aware of other people and not just selfishly barge ahead.

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!

Jake and Lou Anne used to live in a loft and have people over all the time. But once they decided to have a family, they moved to a house in a quiet neighborhood. And, their friends came over significantly less often.

“It was definitely a dramatic change for us,” said Lou Anne. “It was hard to give up our two-seater convertible, but we knew it wasn’t a family car. We had hoped we could keep it and add a family car, but since we couldn’t predict our expenses after Cara’s birth, we traded it in.”

Their daughter arrived in October of 2005. Even though she was an “easy” baby and had a great temperament, she still rocked her parents’ world.

“We were pretty on-the-go kind of people before Cara arrived on the scene,” said Jake. “That has come to a screeching halt. Lou Anne and I really enjoy each other’s company and spending time with our friends. It has been an adjustment just trying to figure out how to have time together, much less work in our friends,” Jake said.

While Jake says the changes in their life have truly have been just that – changes, not sacrifices – many couples know that bringing home that new bundle of joy can cause everything from joy to total frustration. Even when you know that life is going to be different, going from spontaneous and carefree to a schedule and being responsible for someone else can throw a good marriage into a tailspin.

In her book, Childproofing Your Marriage, Dr. Debbie Cherry says there are two major threats to the marital bond when couples have their first child: lack of time and lack of energy.

Intimacy can be greatly affected by:

  • feelings of grief at losing couple time,
  • sensing disconnectedness from your spouse,
  • feelings of jealousy about the amount of time and attention the baby receives, and
  • the loss of energy from caring for the baby.

If a couple does not recognize these threats and deal with them openly, they may begin to feel even more alone and isolated from each other.

“You really can’t measure the love and joy that comes with having a baby,” Jake said. “At the same time, I think it is really important for Lou Anne and me to have time together. We consider personal time, couple time and family time equally important.”

The couple spent the first year trying to get in the groove of how to do all three.

Time is a precious commodity, especially for new parents. Things that you used to take for granted—like afternoon naps on the weekend, taking your time in the bathroom, sex, watching your favorite sitcom, or grabbing a bite to eat—become things that practically have to be scheduled into your day.

If you’re a new parent, Cherry’s suggestions can help you stay close after bringing your baby home:

  • Develop a couple-centered, not a child-centered relationship. For the first time in the relationship, couples have to choose who really comes first. Starting here and now, determine that the couple comes before the children. If children are number one, their never-ending need for attention will eat up everything you have to give, and the rest of your life will suffer because of it. Love your children, provide for them and meet their needs. But remember that one of their most important needs is to have parents who really love each other.
  • Become co-parents, not compulsive parents. Moms and dads alike can fall into the trap of believing they are the only ones who can adequately care for their baby. Somehow they forget that many parents have come and gone before them and have learned to capably care for these helpless little creatures. Becoming a compulsive parent creates isolation and will eventually lead to parenting burnout. Breaks and daily support from each other are a must for parents.
  • Talk to each other every day. Check in with each other regularly. Talk about changing expectations and needs, and division of labor. Discuss your disappointments and fears about parenting. Communication involves both talking and listening. Be the best listener you can be if you want your spouse to continue to share his or her deepest thoughts, feelings, fears and needs.

“I think one of the most important things we keep in mind is that we are on the same team,” Lou Anne said. “I really depend on Jake. We try hard to be respectful of each other and to mind our manners. When you start stepping on each other’s toes, then it becomes a matter of ‘that’s not fair,’ and things go downhill quickly. Cara has been a blessing. Our goal is to keep our marriage strong so we can be a blessing to her through the years.”

For more insight on parenting and how to stay close after bringing baby home, download our E-book “4 ways to stay connected after Baby” Download Here