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Parenting Pep Talk: Six New Parent No-No’s

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Dr. Jaime Black
Dr. Jaime Black

The first few months of parenthood come with a whole host of new challenges, including severe sleep deprivation and constant adaptation to ever-changing circumstances. Many of these challenges simply come with the territory. According to Natalie Diaz, founder of Twinversity and author of What To Do When You’re Having Two, there are some mistakes common amongst parents, and these apply whether you are the new parent of a singleton or of multiples. Here are the top six mistakes to be aware of along with ways to avoid these pitfalls.

Mixing Up Priorities. When children are first born, parents’ only priorities need to be keeping children safe, clean, and nourished, as well as keeping themselves reasonably cared for as well. Things like family gatherings, a spotless house, etc. can wait. Putting pressure on yourself to accomplish more than the vital basics will only take attention from what is really important and cause unnecessary stress.

Not Napping. Despite the popular adage, you cannot always sleep when the baby sleeps, according to Diaz, because that is when you actually get things done! However, you can and should nap when a relative or close friend offers to come by and give you a break, and you can take turns with a spouse too. Schedule naps and ask people to come over at a certain time, because otherwise new parents tend to find a million things to do other than sleep.

Losing Perspective. Chances are that in the midst of all the sleepless nights there will be some arguing between you and your co-parent. Diaz wants parents to remember that as the saying goes, kids do grow up fast and before you know it you will be shipping them off to college. You might even miss the insanity and chaos of having little babies around!

Not Asking for Help. Take people up on their offers to help. An extra pair of hands for even 15 minutes can make a big difference. When people extend a vague offer, make them commit by saying things like, “Great! I can really use a sitter for an hour on Tuesday.” Also, when people offer to help so you can take a break, take a break! Don’t hover! Give them some tricks to get through the hour or the afternoon and get some rest.

Not Being Honest with Yourself and Your Family and Friends. Diaz wants new parents to rethink friendly visits. Repeat this to yourself, she says – “there are no visitors, only helpers.” When friends say they want to come over to see the baby, let them know that they will be helping. Don’t fall into the pitfall of entertaining guests right after the baby or babies are born. Rather than feeling rejuvenated from a visit, you will feel drained and still be left with things to do.

Depending on Everyone All of the Time. Sometimes less is more. It might sound like a great idea to have a bunch of friends or family members come over to help, but having too much help can be a big mistake. One helper at a time can really be better than two or more. If people offer to come over in a group and you aren’t up for it, be honest. Tell them one guest at a time is all you can really handle for a while.

Dr. Jaime Black is a licensed psychologist practicing in Westchester and New York City. Jaime works with high-functioning individuals on the autism spectrum, doing psychotherapy, conducting evaluations, and facilitating various socialization groups including an improv social skills group. Visit www.spectrumservicesnyc.com, e-mail JaimeBlackPsyD@gmail.com or call (914)712-8208.

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