“It takes a village to raise a child.”
Let’s face it. The newborn days are rough, especially the first go-around. From navigating breastfeeding to sleep “schedules” (or lack thereof!) and parenting advice being thrown all around, it’s easy to shut yourself in the house for weeks without emerging. We learned in Pathways this month that children need community and in order to maintain her sanity, a new mother should surround herself with a circle of like-minded parents and mothers that can support her and offer help when necessary. Here are some great ways to create a collaborative parenting atmosphere within your circle of friends and family.
Accept help when it is offered.
With the barrage of visitors often comes food, gifts and offers of help. Be sure to capitalize on this great opportunity. As your hormones come down and you recover from birth, sleep is crucial. Make sure that you accept any help available to you. An extra set of hands to hold the baby, someone to cook a meal, a helper to assist with dishes and chores – all of these things take pressure off of you and allow you to focus on being the mother that your little one needs.
Don’t be afraid to allow the baby the opportunity to bond with others.
While Attachment Parenting is a great philosophy to nurture an independent child, it can often result in complete reliance on parents when it comes to care. Many new parents go for months without a date night. By establishing a community in the beginning and allowing your child to be held and cared for by others, you open yourself up to network of support that can step in when situations become dire or even if you just want to get out for a night on the town. Keep in mind that while it might come with guilt, children should be exposed to others and being able to be 100% available when your child needs you, both physically and emotionally trumps any other misgivings that you might have.
Be a help to others and go to community events.
In the months preceding baby’s arrival, take the time to have some play dates and get to know some of the people in your community. There are often parenting groups and natural-minded communities that are full of parents of all kinds looking to connect with other parents. If you’re among the first in your core group to begin having kids, you might feel a little isolated. By getting to know other parents who share your values and parenting techniques, you can expand your network and increase your chances for support and childcare after the baby arrives.
Establishing a close-knit community of like-minded parents who can support you in your decisions and provide care for your little one when necessary can be a game-changer for new parents. Rather than falling into a secluded routine with your little one, expand your network and reach out to parents like you that might also need some support. Postpartum hormones can be intense and having a network of others to rely on is the perfect way to avoid stress, anxiety, and other issues like postpartum depression.