How to survive your baby's first year: 8 easy steps

It is not an understatement to say that a baby will change your life. This is especially true if you are an older parent with an established routine and lifestyle. The first year can be rough while new family dynamics develop and mom and dad learn to nurture and care for baby. This article contains eight steps for new parents who are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the responsibilities of parenthood.

Step Number One Admit that yes, a baby will change your life.

Many young, professional couples profess that having a baby will not change their lives. They will rise above being baby-centered and retain their previous interests in world politics, sporting activities, the environment, work issues, and social events. In other words, these couples actually believe that their current lifestyle will not change.

It will change. Furthermore, all of the changes are not for the better, like cleaning dirty diapers and waking up at 6 am on Sunday mornings. However, the positive changes far outweigh the temporary inconveniences of raising a baby. The important thing to remember is that, yes, life has changed with a baby, but it won’t be forever.

Step Number Two Create a flexible work schedule, work from home, or work part-time, if possible.

Today’s telecommuting options, flexible workplaces, and burgeoning at-home work environments provide ample opportunity to create a work schedule flexible enough to meet family needs. If you currently hold a traditional job, explore options such as a condensed workweek, rotating hours, extended hours, or part-time options.

Working 4-10s, coming into work one or two hours late, or other options may work best for your family situation. If financially feasible, reduce your work hours, work part-time, or take an extended leave of absence. After all, your child is only a baby for a very short period of time. Explore and expand your work-at-home options with a small business utilizing your skills and abilities. Finally, consider if you are working out of absolute financial necessity or to increase your lifestyle.

Step Number Three Let the house go – a little.

Conventional wisdom says that homes with children are, by and large, a bit messier than homes with no children living in them. Yes, the house needs to be cleaned regularly. Yes, the house needs to provide a sanitary environment and comfort level to all occupants. However, expecting to maintain a picture perfect house in baby’s first and following years is a sure set-up for disappointment. Work to maintain a balance between a clean home and the various realities of parenthood.

Step Number Four Enjoy baby.

There are numerous publications on getting baby to sleep, getting baby to eat, and getting baby to grow and do whatever. The most fun and emotionally touching part of being a parent, however, are the times when you just are with and enjoy baby. Marvel at this small creature that will make remarkable changes in the short span of one year. Record in writing and with photos baby’s first sounds, movements, teeth, and activities.

Observe baby’s first hair growth, attempts at food, crawling, and walking. Play games with the baby. She will delight in peek-a-boo, patty cake, tickling, and other games. Include baby in your daily routine. Watch the baby’s reaction to new situations, people, and objects. It is truly magical to watch a baby discover new things and surroundings. Have fun with baby and recognize that although it may not seem like it right now, this time as a baby will pass quickly.

Step Number Five Take Breaks.

Even the most loving and devoted parents sometimes need a break from the baby. It is up to you to determine the appropriate time away from the baby to refresh your patience, attitude, and reserves. Some parents feel absolutely comfortable leaving the baby for a weekend or even a week-long trip; other parents never leave their little ones until much later in life. The key is to find what works for you.

Talk with other trusted parents about a babysitting swap where you each watch the other’s kids for a Saturday night. Arrange with a partner, friend, or babysitter to watch the baby for short intervals. Even a 15-minute break to take a brisk walk or run, or take a leisurely bath can do wonders to restore and refresh your energy.

Step Number Six Learn your baby’s signals.

Learn to communicate with your baby as early as possible. This will make life easier and more pleasurable for every family member. Communication with a baby is elementary, but it is possible to know if she is hungry, dirty, tired, bored, afraid, or lonely. Respect baby’s attempts at communication and keep trying to understand her needs.

Step Number Seven If possible, breastfeed baby.

If possible, breastfeed your baby. Breast milk is far superior to formula and nature’s perfect food for babies. Breastfed babies get sick less, cutting down on trips to the doctor. Not only is nursing a wonderful experience for baby, but for mother as well.

Nursing helps mom’s uterus return quickly to pre-pregnancy size, helps mom lose weight faster, and some research even indicates nursing protects mom from some types of cancer. It is unfortunate that much folk wisdom surrounding breastfeeding has been lost in our culture, but nursing is making a strong comeback, even in the medical field.

Step Number Eight Continue to work towards your dreams.

Do not suspend progress toward your dreams because you have a new baby. Seek alternative ways to pursue activities and accommodate the needs of a little one at the same time. Having a baby changes your life, but it is not an excuse to put your life on-hold for 18 years.

Surviving baby’s first year means establishing new family dynamics and routines. This does not happen immediately, but grows as part of a process of defining new roles and realities to everyday life. Following the previous eight steps will assist in creating a loving, balanced, and healthy family unit.

Surviving baby’s first year

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