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10 Tips for Your First Year with Baby
Now that we’ve made it past the one year mark as parents, I often think about how drastically our lives have changed. The common theme I come across is that there’s just so much more to do (and seemingly much less time)! But no matter where you are in the parenting journey, I think these ten tips for parents serve as a good reminder to help you get through those long days.
10 Things I’ve Learned During My First Year of Parenthood
Accept help. Often after the arrival of a new baby, family and friends are eager to come meet the baby and help out. First of all, make sure they are genuine and follow through with the offer to help. If not, see my next tip. Whether bringing some take out, a home cooked meal, or doing the dishes or a quick vacuum during their visit, any number of small tasks will help you in the long run. Even now, with the hazy days with a newborn long gone, I’m thrilled when my parents are willing to stop by with dinner!
Ask for help. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. See above, and make the (sometimes, too frequent) visits into something for you by asking them to pick up some groceries or lunch on their way over to meet/visit with baby. This can also just mean asking for help within your household. Make sure everyone is chipping in, even if your partner or older child needs to be told what to do to help out. Delegating and creating lists of chores and their owners can become a fun developmental activity for older children. My toddler loves to help put things away. I may have to repeat the task or demonstrate it once or twice (or several times), but the sense of accomplishment on her face is priceless!
Take breaks. When it feels like you’ve had enough and need a break, you really need to take that break. Whether it means you’ve got to start thinking about planning your next vacation, or you just need to take a long walk by yourself to clear your mind, you have to make sure this becomes a priority and doesn’t fall to the bottom of your to-do list. (And if you can only afford to take a few minutes to yourself, here are some great ideas for quick & easy ways to de-stress.)
Don’t go too long without a date night. The day-to-day can drag on and suck you in before you realize it’s been two months since you and your partner had a full on adult conversation that didn’t relate to your kids or your never-ending list of errands. Make it a priority to plan monthly date nights (or day dates!) to enjoy some time to yourselves, sans kids. We plan these out in advance so we can switch off between family coming to watch the kids, hiring a sitter, and even taking a personal day from work while our daughter is at school.
Take care of yourself. While it’s easy to put your own self-care at the bottom of your list, it’s important that you make this a priority on occasion. Trust me, I get it. There are so many other things to do and take care of – who has the time or energy to pamper oneself? Take one thing that means a lot to you – be it a manicure, massage, or going for a run. Then make the time to do it. I know it makes me feel (and parent) ten times better!
Exercise. For some, this may fall under the tips above to take care of yourself or to take a relaxing break, but for me it’s definitely the opposite! But, I have noticed how much more energy I have when I make time for exercise, and it definitely helps with my mood and stress levels as well. Plus, it’s healthy and sets a good example for your kids. Whether it’s yoga, a barre class, or pulling up a workout video on YouTube, try to reserve some time for a good workout.
Have time for yourself. Yes, on top of breaks, taking care of yourself, and exercise. There are some things you may enjoy by yourself that don’t fall into these other categories. Did someone say a glass of wine at the end of the day, burying yourself in a good book, or trashy TV? Go for it!
Get out of the house. This is ideal with the right weather, but even when the weather isn’t cooperating you can get out for some free or low-cost activities for you and baby. Try to find local drop-in play groups or story time at the library to get you out of the house and meet some other parents and babies.
Talk to friends. Whether you head out for coffee break to meet an old friend or call them up during baby’s nap, it’s important for you and your relationships to find time to stay connected to your friends – and for some good old adult conversation! Another option would be to venture out to find some mommy friends. Check out this recent post on building your village.
Treasure the moments. I know, it sounds so cliché, but as I look back at photos of my daughter one year ago and see just how much she’s grown and changed, it’s scary to think of how quickly the last year has flown by. No longer am I in what felt like a never-ending haze of exhaustion (okay, maybe I am, just not to the same extent), nor am I googling every little sound she makes to make sure it’s “normal”. Toddlerhood certainly brings its own set of adventures, as I’m sure every age does, but I am sure going to soak it all up while I can!
What helpful tips & strategies did you learn during your first year as a parent? Feel free to share them below.
I’m a first-time mom, employee of Bright Horizons and a foodie who loves to cook, travel and laugh. In my free time, I like to pretend I know how to use my DSLR like a pro and do basically all things creative (major DIY-er here). I’m excited to share some of the ups-and-downs of parenthood as my husband, two dogs and our newest addition explore life as a family of five!
- The Family Room: Morgan shares ideas for how to stay close to your partner after having a baby and Marisa shares her “Aha” moment as a Mom.
- Read more from Laura including 5 Tips from Our First Vacation with Baby.
- Read more posts on being a first-time parent from The Family Room bloggers