Five Tips for Easing the Stress of New Parenthood
We've all seen the inspirational t-shirt: "Stressed is just desserts
spelled backwards." If parenthood is your main course, then "stressed"
is the delightful dessert that arrived just after your child did...and
it has been your constant companion ever since. And despite the attempt
to sugar coat it, there is nothing sweet about stress.
A child is truly a gift. But who would have
expected that such a tiny gift could help generate so much stress,
beginning with the question, Who is this new person?
Whether you are a mother or father, whether you gave
birth or adopted, you probably did lots of dreaming about your child
before his/her arrival. You may have imagined what he would look like
and what his laugh would sound like. You may have thought about the
sports he would play and what it would feel like the first time he
picked dandelions for you. Now this new person is here, and - surprise!
- your baby really is already a person. He came equipped with looks
and personality. He has likes and dislikes, and he isn't afraid to let
you know about them. He doesn't like to be swaddled, and he is NOT a
morning person. He likes to be burped by daddy and sung to by mommy.
Stress #1 begins as soon as you realize that, while you may have learned
everything there is to know about babies in general, you know nothing
about this baby in particular...except that you love him.
Suddenly you are aware that you are making major decisions on behalf of
this person you have just met. Circumcision, breast or bottle, cloth or
disposables, vaccinations, family bed or crib, this pediatrician or
And the stresses don't stop there. You'll reconsider your decision to
return to work or your decision to stay home. You'll worry about your
parents' opinion of your parenting. You'll fret about comments made by
total strangers, about comments made by your best friends, about
choosing a preschool, about playdates. Some stresses will pass, only to
be replaced by new ones: homework battles, computer usage, dating,
driving. The stress of parenthood settles right in among the joys, and
stays with you, in ever evolving ways, as long as you are a parent.
Fortunately, we don't have to deal with our stress without support.
Generations of parents before us have honed tips that have passed the
test of time, and we can benefit in their shared knowledge.