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Ten Tips to Help You Cope With Becoming a New Parent

By 13th November 2021Studio Chit Chat

Feeling the symptoms of parental burnout?

 

You knew that life was going to change in a big way when you became the parent of a newborn baby.

 

What you didn’t expect, though, was the daily dose of complete exhaustion and fatigue. And you definitely didn’t plan on parental burnout—but it snuck up on you anyway.

 

Every day, you wake up tired. Before breakfast is even a thought, you’ve already:

 

  • Wiped bums
  • Washed dishes
  • Put on a load of laundry
  • Hoovered up the crumbs from last night’s dinner
  • Listened to your 10th episode of Peppa Pig

 

As long as you’ve got a cup of something caffeinated you can make it till tea time on those few bites of half-burnt toast. Your only goal for today is to make it to Baby Sensory on time and that means being out the door in ten minutes. 

 

But the scent of something funky wafting through the air tells you that’s not gonna happen today.

 

Your mind is foggy, you’re feeling snappy and you want more than anything to crawl back up to your bed and hide.

 

You’re deep in the throes of parental burnout, and you have no idea how you got here. After all, you were so excited to welcome the newest addition to your family. 

 

And while there have been plenty of wonderful moments, you still can’t seem to catch your breath. You haven’t felt like yourself in ages, and you’ve sometimes wondered if you’re cut out to be a parent. 

 

But the truth is, no matter how experienced you are, parental burnout can happen to anyone.

 

So how do you recognise the signs and symptoms, and is it possible to avoid burnout before it starts?

 

Here are some red flags to look out for, and steps you can take to feel better.

Young mother is standing in her kitchen trying to make up baby food for her daughter, who she is carrying on her hip.

Parental burnout symptoms

 

  • Exhaustion

 

  • Extreme irritability

 

  • Lack of interest/motivation

 

  • Trouble sleeping

 

  • Emotional disconnect

 

  • Brain fog

 

  • Feelings of shame

 

These symptoms of parental burnout can make it hard to imagine that things can, or ever will, get better. But by making some of the following changes in your daily life, it’s completely possible.

Digitally manipulated image of a young mother doing many of her daily activities with her babyhttp://195.154.178.81/DATA/i_collage/pi/shoots/781386.jpg

Accept help

It’s not always easy to accept help, even when we know we need it. Sometimes it’s down to pride, and other times we don’t want to be a burden on others.

 

You should never feel ashamed about needing help, and if someone is willing to lend a helping hand, take it. Whether you use that time to sleep, cry, eat, shower, or watch tv, is completely up to you! But having support can make a huge difference when you are feeling alone and overwhelmed.

Do what’s important and leave the rest

Speaking of overwhelm—as parents, we can sometimes be our own worst enemy. Caring for a newborn baby is a massive responsibility, and yet we put ourselves down if the house gets a bit messy.

 

It’s impossible to do it all, but as long as we are doing what is most important, that’s enough. As long as everyone is clean, fed and safe, you’ve done your job.

 

Cracked paint and dusty skirting boards can wait for a day when life isn’t so hectic. For now, enjoy a quiet moment when you get one—and when you don’t, give yourself some grace.

Make a plan with your partner

Conflicting schedules can make this one a bit tough. But making a plan for days where both of you are home can lift at least some of the burden. 

 

Make sure that each of you has an hour alone to spend how you like. It doesn’t matter if you use that time to go to the store, sit in the garden or take a nap. Not being responsible for anyone else (for a little while, at least) is a great way to clear your mind. And it can go a long way in getting you through the rest of the day.

 

Take time for self-care

Self-care means different things to different people. You might be dying to get back to the gym to work off some of the tension you’ve been carrying around. Or you might want nothing more than to sit still and be pampered.

 

Whether it’s a massage, shopping spree, exercise or lunch with a friend—you deserve it. You always make time for everyone else’s needs, now it’s time to take care of yours.

Stop comparing lives

When you’re an outsider looking in, it’s easy to convince yourself other people have it all together. I mean—everyone else makes life with a newborn baby look so easy! There’s no way they would ever suffer from something like parental burnout. There must be something wrong with you…or maybe it’s your assumptions that are wrong.

 

Behind closed doors, they could be struggling with the same feelings. No one’s perfect, and parenting is exhausting even at the best of times. But comparing your journey to someone else’s won’t make your own life any easier.

Don’t put yourself down

Would you ever tell your best friend that they’re an awful cook? Or, tell a sibling that their house could be cleaner? What about complaining to your parents about their awful parenting skills?

 

If we spoke to other people the way we spoke to ourselves, no one would ever want to speak to us. So why do act like we don’t deserve the same kindness we show to others?

 

You’d never dream of telling a friend that they’re failing at life—so stop saying these awful things to yourself. Besides, they aren’t true!

 

Realise that perfection doesn’t exist

For some parents, cooking a gourmet meal is easy and enjoyable; for others, beans on toast is a winner.

 

Some parents love arts and crafts, while others find it tedious and boring.

 

Everyone has their talents, but trying to be good at everything is exhausting. If spending hours cooking or painting isn’t your thing, that’s ok. Instead, focus on activities that you do enjoy.

 

And don’t forget that your family loves you for who you are, gourmet meals or not.

 

Change up the routine

When you’re in the middle of a tough situation, it can be hard to see a way out even when it’s right in front of you. If your daily routine is causing stress and tears, it’s time to try something new. 

 

This could mean:

 

  • Making bedtime an hour earlier or later
  • Batch cooking on a Sunday so dinner for the week is sorted 
  • Cleaning a different room in the house each day, before anyone wakes up

 

Sit down and make a list of things you’re finding difficult, and try to work out if there is a simple alternative. And if an easy life means not getting everything on your to-do list done, don’t beat yourself up. Giving yourself a breather is allowed and recommended.

Say no more often

Do you regularly find yourself saying yes to things you want to say no to? Is it normal for you to take on things you don’t have time or energy for to avoid hurting people’s feelings?

 

Stop saying yes when you want (and need) to say no.

 

There’s no quicker road to burnout city than taking on more than you can handle. Unless it’s an absolute emergency, be more protective of your own time.

Seek professional help

According to The NHS, prolonged stress can “lead to a feeling of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, often called burnout.”

 

Parental burnout is very real, and should never be brushed off. 

 

As a parent, it’s your job to be responsible for the well being of another human life. But taking care of a baby is even more difficult than usual when your own well being is suffering. 

 

A licensed therapist has many skills that can help you navigate difficult feelings. They can also arm you with the tools needed to work towards a solution.

 

Support groups are another wonderful option, especially if you’re feeling isolated. Being around others who are struggling with the same problems can make you feel seen and heard. It can also be uplifting to have the opportunity to support others who are feeling low. 

PhotoBaby is here for you

The crew here at PhotoBaby wants you to know that we care about our customers, even after you’ve left our studio. If you’ve been dealing with parental burnout, we hope this article has helped. If you are in need of urgent support, you can find resources here. 

Are you a first-time parent looking for some useful tips? Head on over to our blog post about life hacks for parents of newborn babies!

Portrait of scared baby against crazy mother with pan on head

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