When we become pregnant, there is so much focus on the developing foetus – the size, the gender, the health etc. Health professionals and family members encourage the pregnant Mother to eat well, avoid toxins such as smoke, and to get enough rest. These factors (and others) can contribute to the birth of a healthy baby.
When the baby is born there are regular check-ins with community nurses to monitor the progress of the new child. There is a lot of attention on the well-being and growth of the child.
What about the growth of the parent?
What does it take to ‘grow’ a healthy happy parent?
- Support – it is vital that the new parents have support- from their partners, family and friends. In the early days it may be practical support like cooking meals, doing the washing, or a bit of cleaning.
- Partnership – if there are 2 parents raising the baby, it’s important that they both share the work load of shopping, washing and caring for the child. It’s especially important that the Dad is giving Mum a break, so she can fully recover from the birth. This also enables the process of ‘Attachment’ to occur between Father and child.
- Encouragement – tell the new parents what a great job they are doing – in caring for, and nurturing their child. Be a listening ‘ear’, not a judgemental ‘voice’.
- Knowledge – when you are studying any course, you learn the facts, and then apply them – parenting is the same. It’s important to understand the developing child, to know what happens at the various stages, and to learn techniques to support and teach the child.
- Sleep – ahhh, this is critical! New parents often are so sleep deprived, that it makes it difficult to function the next day, and they know tonight will be the same! With a newborn, I always encourage the Mum to lay down for a rest at the same time as the baby. So many Mums say they ‘need’ to do the washing or cleaning, yet they end up walking around like zombies.
- Good food – eating healthy nutritious food ensures we are energised in the best possible way. Eating less nutritious food can lead to feeling tired and with little energy to cope with the demands of parenthood.
- Exercise – moderate daily exercise! Simple exercise like a walk, provides a change of scenery, fresh air, and an increase in energy. This is really a great thing to do, when the baby or toddler is unsettled – put them in the pram, and notice what a difference a bit of fresh air and exercise makes for everyone.
- Family time – ensure that you spend time doing something together regularly – walking, playing, reading or group cuddles!
- Couple time – maintaining the relationship with your partner is important – it’s very easy to get caught up with the fun and work of parenthood, and forget to make time as a couple. A regular ‘date night’ will keep you linked as a couple.
- Community – I love this saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.” When a child grows up in the arms of his family, which includes extended family, and neighbours, and maybe sporting or church group, then they have a strong sense of ‘belonging’. I believe it’s also the same for the parent…. To have that sense of belonging means there is always someone there to turn to, for support in times of need.
Just some of the ways to ‘grow’ a parent.
— Image by OakleyOriginals via Flickr