As a new parent, the road ahead is unchartable. You know some things. Maybe even changed a diaper or two. Yet, the nitty, gritty details remain elusive. As an optimist and achiever, perhaps you're planning on conquering the new parent thing the same way you approach your team projects in the office - with a strategic plan. Order, balance, and research will save the day, you say.
As a planner and doer, you have a corporate advantage in how to solve problems, even of the parenting type. Yet, there are a few things that every working parent seems to discover on the fly. Here's a short list of everything they don't tell you as a working new parent.
1. There's just not enough time
Remember the days when you could snooze the alarm clock and still have enough time to squeeze in a quick shower, banana and make some coffee? Just say goodbye now. These days, you'll pretty much have to cut down the time you spend to get ready in the morning to nearly nothing. And snoozing? Thing of the past.
Once your little one is up and at it, it's go-time. You'll arrive at work in wrinkled trousers and a roaring stomach more often now when your messy newborn ruins your clothes with their bodily functions and you run out of time to fry an egg. Of course, planning is crucial.
Here's where your strengths in being a top performer in your career can come in. Think about your week and prep some morning items or grab to-go versions of your favorite snacks. Have a fresh pair of clothes ready for emergencies (in your car and/or at home).
And, try showering at night and packing your lunch the night before. Spending five to ten minutes at night prepping can save you twice that in the morning when you're groggy and getting your wits about you while getting baby all set.
2. Everyone around you is suddenly a baby expert
Geesh. This one could be just about the most annoying thing they don't tell you. Starting from that adorable photo your wife and you posted on Facebook last week announcing your pregnancy, you've probably been given more advice than you would care to receive.
And, just like the internet, much of it is conflicting and confusing. We suggest going with your gut and trusting only your closest of family and friends. The rest? Toss it. Seriously.
There are many experts out there and sifting through the good ones can be challenging. Trust what's worked for people you have high regard for. You can also read up on the articles and blogs written on their websites to see what they have to say on various topics.
Another way is to read reviews and opt to have a free consultation to see what they have to say. Many times you'll get all you need to know in an introductory call to decide whether to go further or not. Doing your research like you do at work will help lead you to the advice you're looking for.
3. You worry even more than before
You thought that worrying about your future, your finances and your family were enough for one plate. Now, you worry constantly about your child. Are they sleeping the proper way to be able to breathe? Can I trust my sitter? Should I be doing this differently? Am I doing this right?No one can blame you as a new parent to be completely paranoid about your child.
Having to maintain your career while worrying so much can be hard. There are a few things that can ease your mind. One is hiring help that you trust. Another is to get enough physical exercise and enough sleep. A final step is great nutrition. You won't stop worrying from this point on, but taking care of yourself helps a lot.
4. Relationships change
And then there were three (or four, or five)! Now that there are more humans in your immediate family, expect the dynamic between you and your partner to change. Yes, it will get deeper, stronger and more intimate, but it can also get more tense, and angry. Don't be afraid of knowing that.
Anger happens when both couples have less time for themselves, are running on empty and haven't had a good night of sleep for a few days, as one working dad recently wrote about. Blame happens. Fights happen. Love happens too. It's all good, just try to keep your cool and breathe. Don't neglect yourself and always try to make room for date night. Giving yourself space is important.
5. Sleep (what's that?)
Sleep is so crucial. Working Americans need six to eight hours of sleep a night. Some arguably need more. So, when a newborn is waking up every few hours, it's not going to make you crush your presentation the next day. Many corporate employees and leaders hire night nannies who tend to your infant overnight while you get your shut-eye. Another way to get sleep is to have a certified sleep specialist work with you to get a customized feeding and napping schedule.
In the corporate world, schedules are everything. Getting your baby into a routine that works for you and them can be a game changer. And, it offers a hands-off approach if you aren't too keen on hiring a night nanny. Many night nanny companies also allow you to schedule just a few days a week or one if you just want to bank on a solid night's rest once a week.
Parenthood is like being on a sailboat crossing the ocean. You're the captain, but sometimes you get lost. Sometimes you end up off course. There are rainbows and sunshine some days too. Yet others, you're tossed around in the waves while rain pounds your face.
Then, just as you make it through one tremendous wave another is right behind it to slam you. So, just hang on and do the best you can. Taking care of yourself and getting enough sleep should be the cornerstones of your parenting techniques.
You know why flight attendants advise putting your own breathing mask on before helping a child? Because it makes the most sense. So, breathe, sleep and eat well so you can conquer both parenting and corporate worlds.
About the Author
Rachelle Gershkovich is the author of Creating Sweet Dreams and the President of Maternal Instincts, Inc., a Denver-based sleep training, baby nurse and night nanny concierge service. She is also a nutritionist and certified sleep specialist. Her company serves high-powered leaders in the corporate sector, including public figures and busy career-oriented families.