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A not so big secret about me is that I have been a single mom for the majority of my adult life. I have also served single moms during my career. So when Alexis approached me about doing a guest post that targeted our single parents out there, I jumped on the chance. Alexis Hall is a single mom to three kids. She created SingleParent to provide support and advice for the many families out there with only one parent in the household. She works as an in-home health nurse. When she isn’t working or spending time with her kids, she enjoys running and hiking and is currently training for a triathalon. – Mercy
Bringing home a newborn is a nerve-wracking experience. They are so tiny — so fragile. Plus, they can barely express themselves and communicate their needs for the first six weeks. The first few months are filled with sleepless nights, health scares, and the general anxiety of “am I doing this right?” As a single parent, that anxiety intensifies, as you do not have backup when it comes to this whole caring-for-a-newborn thing. Of course, just because you don’t have a partner doesn’t mean you can’t do this on your own.
Call in Your Support System
Humans are social creatures. It is in our nature to develop communities and help each other. Whether they are friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors, there is someone in your extended social circle who can and will help in some way — the only thing is, you have to ask. It can be difficult to approach others for help, but most people are more than happy to do their part when it comes to helping a new parent. Don’t be surprised if they expect some time where they can ooh and ahh over the adorableness of your newborn in return, though.
If you still feel anxious about asking others for help, remember the following:
- Demonstrate to the person how you tried to do the task on your own.
- Recognize that you value their advice.
- Be mindful of the other party’s schedule and time.
- Make a small request to “get your foot in the door” before asking for something that requires more involvement.
- Be clear about what you want or need.
- Ask multiple people — a group chat is a great way to do this — and work with the person who is most available.
- Always provide help when those you love need it.
Outsource Where You Can
What’s the difference between asking for help and outsourcing? A fee.
When you are a single parent, finances are often stretched pretty thin. However, sometimes it can be worthwhile to spend the cash on something you could do yourself — especially when you are taking care of a newborn yourself. You may have never considered hiring a housekeeper before bringing your baby home, but spending that extra money now can ultimately rescue your time and sanity. Other things you can outsource while adjusting to life as a parent:
- Pet care and dog walking
- Meal preparation
- Laundry (especially if you are using cloth diapers)
- Yard and garden maintenance
- Setting up or building home furnishings
Work for Rest
At this point, it probably seems like every waking moment and all your energy should be spent on the baby. However, you can’t neglect your own well-being. Self-care — such as getting enough rest and eating a healthy diet — is important for new parents, especially single parents. Nobody is going to look after you but you, so you have to do it yourself.
Your sleep is going to be off, and there’s no changing that fact until your baby grows into a more regular schedule. With that in mind, sneak in sleep whenever your newborn is napping and avoid caffeine and other stimulants that disrupt your rest. Eat a healthy diet full of whole foods that help keep you energized whenever you are awake. Also, try safely sleep sharing — sleeping with your baby in your bed together. Not only do many newborns sleep longer when with their parent, it’s a great way to encourage bonding with your newborn baby.
Bringing home a newborn is a thrilling but somewhat terrifying experience. If you are a single parent, the challenge can be even more nerve-wracking, as you are on your own when it comes down to brass tacks. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but remember that most people would love to lend a hand in exchange for a peek at your adorable baby. Finances may be tight, but outsourcing your household chores can certainly be worth the dough in the first weeks after bringing home baby. Finally, do your best to care for yourself and get enough rest. It’s not always easy, but self-care is as much for the good of your baby as it is for you.