It’s here now, or it’s on its way … your first year of parenthood.
Adoptive parents wait patiently, and when the day arrives, emotions abound. A new addition to the family, regardless if this is your first child or third, creates change and transformation for your family.
There are many reasons people adopt, and the first year of parenthood can be a culmination of those feelings. Experience your first year in a way that can help you be the best version of yourself and best parent possible. Remember, parenthood is a marathon, not a sprint.
What can you do to make the first year as successful as possible? Here are tips to help you. In turn, they will help your child. Long-term, you’ll be setting an example — children watch everything you do.
1. Put Your Oxygen Mask on First
Self-care. It’s important in all aspects of your life. When it comes to parenthood, self-care isn’t optional.
If you were in an emergency situation and a first responder arrived to help, would you want them to be as physically, mentally and emotionally healthy as possible? Yes. Parenthood is much like being a first responder. You are first on the scene for almost everything with little down time between “calls.”
What is optimal self-care for you? Give it some thought. Devise a simple plan you can stick with. Maybe it starts with 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, taking cat naps when baby sleeps or eating more veggies. Take baby steps, and your self-care is more likely to snowball.
2. People Who Need People Are the Luckiest People in the World.
Barbra Streisand’s song “People” explains it best. You need help. It’s normal.
Not long ago, society was different. Families lived closer together and sometimes together. Neighbors provided a support system. Today, people are less connected to one another (and themselves) and more connected to phone screens.
Reach out. If you’re offered help, accept it. Again, it’s a marathon, and you’re in it for the long haul — teenage years of dating, driving lessons and beyond. It’s healthy to know how to ask for help and receive it. Exercise that muscle.
3. Stop and Smell the Roses
Live with a deeper appreciation of your world. Slow down and be present. Not everything has to be perfect. Don’t put that pressure on yourself.
Your child will grow up fast. Savor moments. Even difficult ones are moments you’ll likely remember years later and laugh. So don’t wait years later when reminiscing over old photos to appreciate those moments. That time is NOW.
4. Lean on Me
Remember the song? “You just call on me brother, when you need a hand. We all need somebody to lean on.”
We do. There is a reason the book What to Expect the First Year has over 10.5 million copies in print. Lean on professional resources. Becoming a parent, adding to your family and navigating adoption can be taxing — financially, emotionally, mentally and physically.
Use resources available from books and parenting support groups to financial planners and counselors. This is new territory. You’re not alone, and isolation is not a good strategy. Professionals are experienced and can offer tools and resources you may not know exist.
5. Proper Care and Feeding
Your spouse or partner is with you on this journey. If you were running a marathon together, you’d certainly check in on one another, communicate and ask how the other is doing.
Your spouse or partner was part of your decision to adopt. The journey, together, continues into parenthood. With a new addition to the family, it’s easy to get caught up in your role and responsibilities.
Just as you make sure your child receives proper care and nutrition, make sure your relationship does too. Your child needs you, your spouse or partner and you together as a family. Single parents make it work every day, but it’s not ideal for everyone involved.
Work as a team, communicate, schedule date night and let go of expectations.
Author: Destiny Adoption Services
Destiny Adoption Services is proud to support and guide birth parents and adoptive families on the journey of adoption. We’re a state licensed nonprofit adoption agency with four decades of adoption experience, and our professional team of experts includes moms, adoptive moms and birth mothers who provide compassion combined with trusted resources and skills.