Becoming a new parent can be a genuinely thrilling experience. From pregnancy to first-time child-rearing, most — if not all — new parents often describe the event as fulfilling, blissful adoration, and pure joy. However, this treasured experience also brings a roller-coaster of emotions. While being a new parent can be gratifying, there are countless struggles and obstacles along the way.
What do new parents struggle with the most? The first days, weeks, months, and years as a new parent would not feel like a walk in the park. By contrast, it is like exploring uncharted territory. Almost everything is a new experience paired with challenges. Among these familiar challenges shared by many first-time parents are exhaustion, an adjustment in lifestyle, and personal health and/or relationship issues.
While being aware of these struggles can be nerve-racking, it is something inevitable when a couple or an individual becomes a parent. In this article, I will list down 11 of the top concerns among new parents and tips on how to overcome these hurdles.
11 Top concerns among new parents
1. Common parenting tasks
“What should I do once we bring home our baby?” “How can I soothe the baby and stop him/her from crying?” “How do I change diapers?” “Should I feed the baby this kind of food?” These are just some of the hundreds of questions every new parent asks. While these things can sound like a common or usual parenting task, it is not surprising that first-time parents will frequently ask these kinds of child-rearing 101 questions.
2. Sleep deprivation
One of the most obvious struggles every new parent has experienced. Babies can be very unpredictable – especially with their sleep schedule. We’ve heard and seen this countless times from other people, babies do tend to wake up and cry in the middle of the night. Parents, on the other hand, have no choice but to get up and soothe their babies no matter how tired they were through the day. Eventually, throughout parenthood, this becomes a cycle and can cause sleep deprivation and exhaustion.
3. Clashing parenting styles
He said, she said; papa’s rules, mama’s rules. First-time parents might experience having clashing parenting styles. One might tend to be stricter while the other would want to spoil their first child. This is a reasonably typical thing and at times it is not a weighty issue. It’s understandable and can usually be easily resolved.
4. Overloaded to-do list
Parenting is not an easy thing. Suddenly, parents will have to balance their lives and a pile of responsibilities. Aside from work, there are household chores, and of course, you have to be alert while taking care of the baby. This, as well as other daily stuff to do, can be overwhelming and very tiring.
5. Change in lifestyle
At this moment of your life as a new parent, everything will be all about your child. Most of your time will be poured into child-rearing. This experience will change your lifestyle as you sacrifice certain things that you used to do or enjoy before having a baby.
6. Lack of self-care
While becoming a parent also means you have to let go of some things that you enjoyed years ago, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look out for yourself. Some new parents are inclined to forget about their health and wellness. Always remember that your condition is equally important.
7. Breastfeeding woes
For first-time mothers, it is a thrilling milestone to start lactating. Experts like pediatricians, parenting books, and other sources will encourage you to breastfeed since it can give the best nourishment to your baby. Also, it is such an intimate and heartwarming experience that can strengthen the physical and emotional bond between you and your baby.
But it turns out, breastfeeding can be harder than it looks. Many mothers experience difficulties in breastfeeding.
8. Increased anxieties and/or mixed emotions
Being a new parent is scary in general. New parents can’t help but get worried and anxious even regarding the slightest details about their baby. Overthinking or overanalyzing and anxiety can take a toll on the parents’ mental and emotional health. This can also lead to having frequently mixed emotions – which can further escalate to arguments or breakdowns.
9. Overwhelming unsolicited advice
As soon as parents conceive their first child, their parents, relatives, friends, and even strangers will suddenly offer advice on parenting or child-rearing. Of course, opinion from other parents is often helpful, especially for new parents. However, at times, it can get a little too much to handle. Some comments might come across as nitpicking and other advice are sometimes unsolicited or unnecessary.
10. Relationship issues
Aside from having not enough “me” time, parents also face an issue of having a lack of “we” time. Built-up exhaustion and stress caused by child-rearing can affect the relationship between a couple. Disagreement, lack of attention towards each other, and limited intimate time can be somewhat expected.
11. Not enjoying and experiencing the moment
Things can get hectic for new parents. Too busy that they sometimes forget to slow down and enjoy the moment. Every parent needs to do this every once in a while. After all, children do grow up so fast. You wouldn’t realize your child will turn into a teen in just a blink of an eye.
Ways to overcome these challenges
1. Practice, patience, dedication
No one expects new parents to be perfect, skilled, and very knowledgeable about raising their child. While it is ideal to be a “super mom” or “super dad,” it takes a lot of time, patience, practice, and dedication to get better at parenting.
Aside from consulting your child’s pediatrician, there are also other resources that you can consult when it comes to parenting questions. For instance, you can try reading some parenting books and/or magazines. There are also a handful of trusted parenting websites and forums online, which can help new parents.
Also read: 5 Best Child Development Books For Parents
2. Sync and schedule your sleep with your baby
It sounds odd but according to some parents, this works. Avoid doing chores while you put your baby to sleep. As much as possible, consider your baby’s nap time as your cue to take a breather and get some rest.
This kind of time management system will allow you to restore your energy.
This is the best word to describe what new parents should do in case of their clashing parenting styles get out of hand. Sit down, talk, and plan together. This will promote better understanding, patience, cooperation, trust, and a stronger bond between parents.
4. Divide chores and help each other
Manage your time together and try dividing chores as much as possible. This way, each parent can get enough rest and avoid overworking and exhaustion.
5. Find new fun hobbies
You have to let go of certain activities once you become a parent. Some examples could be going out for some casual weekend drinks with friends.
Still, leisure activities are part of your essential needs as individuals. These things can prevent having burnout due to daily chores as a new parent. Try out some enjoyable hobbies and activities which you can do as parents or with your baby.
Some family-friendly activities could be watching movies at home, learning new recipes to cook, or gardening. Parents can also try out meditation, which can also be very beneficial since it can help de-stress after a long busy day or week.
6. Pamper and reward yourself once in a while
There’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for surviving a hectic day, week, month, or year as a new parent. You deserve it! Again, parenting isn’t an easy task and yet you’re sailing through it.
Treat and shower yourself with some good ol’ TLC (tender loving care). Keep in mind that you have to make yourself happy and healthy so that your family can be like that as well. A parent’s mood and mindset oftentimes can be reflected through their children. So take good care of yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.
7. Research and consult
Breastfeeding issues can be common among first-time mothers. Some information available in parenting books or websites can give tips and ideas on how to breastfeed your baby. There are also many products in the market which can be helpful for first-timers. But, don’t forget to consult your doctor first. They know better and can offer professional advice which you can trust.
8. Communicate, relax, meditate
Sometimes, it helps to talk to other people when it comes to overthinking and over-worrying as a parent. This is completely normal. Other parents and experts on parenting can try to help and guide you.
Relaxing and clearing your mind is also very helpful. While being worried can be understandable, panicking almost every single time will not help you nor the baby. Try keeping your composure by taking deep breaths. You may also try listening to soothing music – which can also improve your child’s mood.
9. Listen and draw the line
Nobody wants to offend those who are aiming to help by giving parenting advice based on their first-hand experiences. Try to hear and process what they are saying. If you think it’s going overboard or too much, you can try to politely explain to them or request them to slow down.
10. Talk to each other
Communication is the key to a relationship. Try fitting in some time to spend together. Maybe have a quick and simple “dinner date” at home while the baby is sleeping. Sit down on your couch and watch a movie together. It can also be straightforward, like calmly talking about the issues you’re experiencing. Enjoying this little “we” time will ultimately help parents to unwind and resolve personal issues together.
11. Treasure each time together
Parenting, especially for first-time parents, can be really stressful and tiring. However, don’t let this memorable phase in your lives slip away. Parenting, no matter how hard it can get, should still be cherished.
Simple moments such as feeding your child or singing them a lullaby are some of the most precious times you and your baby spend together. Prevent unnecessary thoughts and try to enjoy and treasure those kinds of times.
There are many struggles and issues shared by almost all new parents. These challenges can be inevitable most of the time – however, there are many ways to deal with them. These problems might also scare some first-time parents but always remember that raising a child — no matter how taxing it can be — is a rewarding and magical thing.
What are the usual parenting questions asked by new parents and how should I solve those kinds of queries?
Some of the most popular questions involving child-rearing are:
“Why is my baby crying?”
“How can I encourage healthy child development?”
“How can I teach my baby to walk and/or talk?”
Aside from consulting medical professionals such as pediatricians, several trusted websites, books, podcasts, and blogs can offer you an idea or tips to learn more about these questions.
Here at Edugage, we publish articles focused on childcare and child development. Here’s an article that you might consider reading: Answers To Common Parenting Questions (Engaged Parenting).