The addition of a new baby brings with it an entirely new learning curve for first time parents. Things once taken for granted suddenly require mindful attention from the moment of birth forward – and if proper attention is not paid, the balance of your mind, body and spirit suffers.
Two of the many experiences at the top of the list of what was once taken for granted: (1) sleep (2) your relationship with your partner. If these are not mindfully attended to, they dissolve and, along with them, health, wellness and joy.
Sleep is interfered with on various levels and coping mechanisms employed in order to permit the parenting couple to enjoy a full night of restful, healing sleep range from enlisting outside help (immediately after the birth, a professional doula is an option) to having one or more family members pitch in.
The doula teaches parents (of particular value to first time parents) all sorts of helpful hints, tips and techniques so that, once the professional relationship is over, the new parents can take over with confidence. The down side of the doula arrangement includes additional financial burden on the couple, and the reality of having a ‘stranger’ help take care of your newborn.
Relatives helping out bring all sorts of realities to the table. On one hand, having someone you respect, trust and love may add a wonderful dimension to the new parenting experience. The downside of having family members help for extended periods of time becomes apparent when boundary issues arise. This may impact the relationship.
Boundaries. Sometimes one or both partners feel unable to draw healthy boundaries and/or find that boundary setting efforts are ignored by the otherwise well meaning, helpful family member. The boundary issue may put a strain on the relationship between the parenting couple especially if both parents don’t agree on the boundary that needs to be set. For example, if the family member of one new parent insists on cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, joining the couple on social outings, and/or prevents the couple from hiring an outside babysitter, and only one of the parents sees a reason to draw a boundary, this may potentially put a strain on the relationship between the new parents.
Additional difficulties arise even when both new parents agree on the boundary that needs to be set, if either or both lack the skills to do so effectively. Do you and/or your parenting partner feel uncomfortable when the ‘helpful family member’ insists on his/her version of ‘helping’? Perhaps you have a loved one who either directly states his/her expectation or – sometimes worse, sends out a vibration or attitude so thick you can cut it with a knife, but can’t put your finger on it to address it effectively. If that family member imposes on your privacy, interferes with your special alone time, insists on tagging along on your outside dinner dates with friends, etc. and you lack tools to address this, you may benefit from professional intervention to help you as a couple, so that your relationship with each other – as well as with outside friendships, can continue to grow. Click here for more information. Click here for a recommendation. Failure to address these important stresses results in distraction from joy and may ultimately threaten aspects of your relationship.
IF YOU WANT HEALTHY KIDS – YOUR HAPPINESS IS ESSENTIAL
You owe it to yourselves and to your children to have positive energy in your life. This means you need to learn how to effectively deal with distractions to your happiness. Scientific research has focused seriously on the impact of ‘in-laws’ on the marital couple – even before children are brought into the equation. If you sense you have a toxic family member who brings bitter-sweet realities to your table, click here for validation and tools.
The Wall Street Journal suggests that sleep (as noted above) needs to be a priority in order to keep your relationship happy. In order to remain centered and positive, attention to your mind, body and spirit are key. From prenatal yoga to regaining balance through tai chi – even after a diagnosis with back pain, arthritis etc., your are in charge of the energy you choose to surround yourself with. Keep in mind that a healthy, happy relationship among your mind, body and spirit as well as between parenting partners is essential in order to plant healthy seeds in the children you are raising. Studies show that over-controlling parents (resulting from all sorts of personality issues) have a negative impact on children up through and into the offspring’s sixth decade of life! Imagine that.
Clearly, maintaining a healthy mind/body/spirit balance and nourishing your relationship is worth the effort not only for YOUR joy, but for the well being of your children. A healthy foundation in life begins with positive energy.
Here’s to your joy, and best of luck with your growing family. ~Dr. Iankowitz