Matchstick Monkey met with the founders of Happity to talk about parenthood and the many ways you can get support as a new parent during a pandemic.
Happity is a local baby and toddler community that makes connecting with other parents quick and easy. They provide online support for parents as well as being an online community where parents can create or join playdates and find and book baby and toddler classes run by their activity providers.
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Parenting in a Pandemic - Happity’s 7 Tips To Support New Mothers
For any new Mum or Dad who has gone through pregnancy, birth and new parenthood during the pandemic, I’m sure it has been a very different experience than the one you imagined.
Pregnancy, birth and new parenthood are magical times. We naturally have a tendency to surround ourselves with the support of our partners, family, friends and health professionals. We also go to baby and toddler classes to make new friends and find more support when our babies arrive.
The pandemic has taken much of this away from us, and it has taken its toll. In so many cases, it has increased loneliness and had a negative impact on parental mental health.
The following tips have been curated with the help of Dr Kerri Walster, a clinical psychologist from Gentle Journeys to support new parents in the pandemic.
1. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
There’s no such thing as a perfect parent! The truth is we’re all learning as we go along and we will make mistakes along the way, so don’t compare yourself to your friends or to other mums. Especially, don’t compare yourself to the images you see on social media, where things can look all too perfect. This is even more important when you’re parenting in a pandemic with reduced support. At a time when loneliness and uncertainty are bound to affect you.
2. Trust Your Instincts
If you think something might be wrong or if there’s something really worrying you - get it checked out. Don’t put off phoning your health visitor or GP. They’re still here for you - even in the pandemic. Your needs and your baby’s needs are important. You will never be wasting a health professional’s time by asking for help or advice.
3. Look After Yourself
You can be so busy looking after your baby’s needs that you can put your own to the back of the queue. Taking care of yourself is important and good for you! We all do better when we eat well, drink enough water and get fresh air and exercise. Making moments for self-care is vital too. If you can find ways to recharge your batteries and replenish your own needs then you will have more strength to tend to your baby.
If you had a difficult or traumatic birth and/or if you are struggling with feeling anxious or low, then do seek help from a health advisor or your GP.
4. Get Fresh Air Every Day
Make the most of your daily walk. Even better if you can meet another parent (at a social distance) or a friend or family member. Even if you head out alone with your baby you can smile and say hello to other new parents you pass and feel a little bit more connected.
Also, make the most of online baby classes. They’re not the same as face to face classes but right now they’re the next best thing. They give both you and your baby purpose for the day and a chance to connect with a group of parents. You can find lots of baby classes online on Happity or you can book now for face to face classes when they return (fingers crossed very soon), so you can plan to get out there and meet other mums!
5. Stop Scrolling and Put Down Your Phone
‘Doomscrolling’ can eat into our anxiety - especially during the pandemic! It can become a habit to check your phone often and scroll through the news. The negative headlines and also the ultra-perfect photos of other parents on social media can chip away at your self-esteem and heighten your anxiety. So, try to put down your phone and limit your scrolling as much as you can.
6. Practice Positive Affirmations
This last tip might take a bit of practice. Start your day by saying some positive statements about yourself. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe them at first. Fake it until you make it! Start each day by telling yourself things like “I am doing everything I can to nurture, care for and look after my baby”. “I am strong, calm and confident”. By doing this, soon you will realise these statements are in fact... true!
7. End The Day with Gratitudes
Keep a notebook by your bed and every night write down 5-8 little things that you have been grateful for each day.
Avoid sweeping statements like ‘my family’. Instead, hone in on the little things you spotted through the day that made you smile.
You might have focused on daffodils on your daily walk. A toddler might have smiled at you when you were at the shop. Your baby might have made you smile when he did something adorable.
Write them down each night.
Once you make this a ‘daily to-do’ you will find that you begin to notice and collect the joy-filled moments; as you begin to be more mindful of the small joys that can make a big difference.
Related Blog: Mindfulness Exercises For New Parents