How to maintain your confidence when you’ve just had a baby March 20, 2023 – Posted in: Advice, Confidence, Leaders and Teams, Personal Development, Relationships, Spirituality
Becoming a parent is undoubtedly one of the most overwhelmingly amazing things a person can do. However it is a journey fraught with highs and lows and if you’re not careful you can get lost in a mire of self-doubt, perfectionism and self-loathing. A baby, a serious lack of sleep, the enormous responsibility of another life and the intense upheaval of your own life can destroy your confidence but it doesn’t have to.
I’m a mum to three girls, a step mum to two boys and I’ve fostered four teenagers in the past. From my experience, here’s how to parent with confidence (or rather, here’s what I wish I’d done when I clapped eyes on my firstborn back in 2004…)
Do your best but drop the need to be perfect.
Your baby does not need perfection, they simply need you to do your best each day. Perfectionism eats away at you and your children – putting you all under an anxious pressure you don’t need. Babies definitely pick up on your stress so the more you can go with the flow and allow the chaos and the tiredness and the sixteen-loads-of-washing-daily to be what they are the easier it will be for you all. I remember running a finger over a dusty shelf when my eldest was a month old and berating myself for my lack of house management. If I could travel back in time I would tell the me of 2004 to get back into bed with her baby and have a nap!
Rip up the parenting manuals and trust your instincts instead.
I believe your instincts are hard-wired to know what’s best for your child so it’s imperative for your confidence and your baby’s confidence that you learn to plug into your innate wisdom. When my first baby was about nine months old I realised that all the parenting manuals were contradicting themselves and it was making me crazy! What was right for my daughter? This book? Or this one? It was a source of huge anxiety and eventually, I’d had enough. I lit a bonfire, grabbed all the books and burned them. It was the day I truly settled into being her mum and I’ve never looked back. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t asked for advice along the way – of course I have – but I stopped obsessively reading about how to be the perfect parent and I plugged into my own instincts.
Expect to be tired and emotional and overwhelmed.
This is normal and beating yourself up about it will only make things worse. To combat the exhaustion sleep when your baby sleeps even if this is only for 20 minutes at 11 am. I wish I’d slept more when I had my babies. Instead, I put washing in the machine, cooked meals, cleaned the house and hit a point of chronic exhaustion.
Ask for help and take it!
You can’t do this alone. If someone offers you a meal, take it. If they want to do a load of washing for you, let them. If they will sit and watch the baby while you take a shower go for it. Get through the first weeks as best you can and take as much support as you are offered.
And finally, stop comparing yourself and your baby to other new parents and their babies.
The last thing any of you need is competition and if your baby takes longer to reach a certain milestone trust me they will catch up. It is not a race.