This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.
Good morning! Today I wanted to share about some of the adjustments we’ve learned and made since becoming new parents. As I’ve shared before on the blog, being a new mom and parent can be a complete whirlwind. There are so many “new” things to adjust to, that it almost seems like you’re starting over in life. When you think about it, you’ve become a whole new person, and there is absolutely no amount of preparation that can “prepare” you for parenthood.
I thought it would be fun to share about some of the adjustments from both mine and Ed’s point of view.
What do you feel was the biggest adjustment to being a new parent?
SO MUCH! For me, it’s learning to put someone else first – I realize that makes me sound selfish. But, I can’t say “yes” to opportunities (for pleasure or work) at the drop of a hat anymore. Traveling is much harder. Going out to lunch is much harder. Heck, grocery shopping is near impossible! Thank goodness for online shopping. Just putting things on hold in general.
Obviously, there’s a lack of sleep. It’s no wonder they use sleep deprivation as a form of punishment – it makes you hysterical. I remember in the early weeks when Ed and I would get into bed, we’d look at each other and ask, “did I shower today?” I would wake up in the middle of the night with night sweats, panicked that I left Camryn in the bed, or paranoid that I dropped her on the floor. I can’t make these things up. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen so much anymore, but every now and then, I’ll wake up looking for her in bed. I think part of it was sleep deprivation, and the other part was just pure worry. You’re up so often feeding and changing them, and I would just second guess myself that I put her back down in her bassinet. Delirium!
Ed: The biggest adjustment is not being able to catch up on sleep. Every day, I feel just a little bit more tired, but it’s totally worth it. Another difficult challenge is trying to guess the solution to why the baby might be crying. Without being able to use words, it’s a guessing game for us. Is she tired? Hungry? Needs a diaper change? Does she want to be held? Sometimes it’s none of the above.
Is there anything you would go back and tell your pre-parent self?
Be prepared to spend hours on the floor doing nothing but watching your baby – watching their faces, watching them sleep, and letting them sleep on you. I never thought I would just put my whole world and work on hold for hours while laying on the floor. That sounds crazy! But when you have your own baby in the mix, it’s not crazy at all. You live for those moments, and every single smile is a blessing.
I would also tell myself…DO ALL THE TRAVEL, AND EATING OUT, AND LATE NIGHTS as possible! People tell you this and to some extent, I feel like we did. But it’s just amazing how less flexible you are as a new parent. I’m so used to being spontaneous and booking fun trips and getaways, and only thinking about myself. Now with Camryn in the mix (which I wouldn’t change for the world), she comes first. All of those other life things are on hold.
Lastly, have a serious conversation with your significant other about what you are both about to delve into. Having a baby is hard and there can be tension and resentment sometimes. I wish Ed and I had known how hard it would be ahead of time and had such a conversation, but we were oblivious to what parenting would be (and we’re still such newbies). But, I think it would be helpful to talk about how you can help each other, especially when you notice one of you is not in your best state. What are the signs one of you is getting frustrated? How can you offer support, even when it gets tough and you just want more sleep?
I would also tell myself that it’s ok to ask for help and establish my help network ahead of time. I have soo much trouble asking for help. I’m slowly getting better but I have this tendency to think I can do it all (I’m type A, can you tell?). Consider reaching out to others ahead of time to let them know you may ask for help. Better yet, give or make them a gift, so they can expect to return the favor and offer help when you need it.
How has your relationship with each other changed?
Right now, we’re just trying to stay afloat. We’re focused on getting through each day and doing what we need to for Cam. I think we can tell when the other needs some quiet time or time out of the house and we are both aware that giving space and breaks is important for parenting. It’s a very “teamwork” job! We haven’t really had date nights yet because Camryn is so young and it is difficult to trust others with your child (This was another lesson for me)! But, I think when you’re ready, making time for your significant other is so so important for strengthening your relationship.
I look at Ed every day and realize he’s the coolest and best dad ever. I can’t wait to watch him and Camryn grow older through the lens of a parent. Your perspective definitely changes after parenthood. But it’s a whole new level of love, in my opinion.
Ed: Try to make things as easy for your wife as possible. The littlest things can make the biggest difference, whether it’s cleaning bottles or changing diapers. I don’t think either of us knew all the other things involved besides just “caring for a baby.”
What memories do you have with your parents growing up? What do you envision for the future?
I have so many fond memories! We were (and still are) a pretty closeknit family and I remember just always being around my siblings (I’m the oldest of 4). My mom was very involved with the PTA (when we were little, she worked for an airline company), but as we grew up, she was planning and involved in all of our school events. My dad owned his own business and was very involved in our sports growing up. He even coached my little league team, and made it to nearly every soccer, basketball, baseball and later softball game of mine. I feel fortunate that I always felt supported and I hope to provide the same supportive and loving environment for Camryn. I’m still very close with my parents and siblings and I’m so so grateful.
What have you learned as you’ve aged that you want to instill in your children?
To this point, I’ve learned that time goes quickly and age is just a number. People become parents and grandparents at all different ages. Heck, people are running marathons in their 60’s! The world is changing for the better, and I hope there continue to be opportunities for people of all ages. I still see my dad as the same person who took me for ice cream when I was 7, took me to the father daughter dance when I was 9, played catch with me when I was 10, and walked me down the aisle when I was 28. I didn’t think about him aging – I thought about, and appreciated, his presence, his constant love and support and his guidance throughout my life to this point. I hope my daughter has the same perspective.
Ed: I spent a good amount of time outside growing up and I want to provide the same opportunities for my daughter. I still have a very close relationship with both of my parents. As they’ve grown older, I’ve become more appreciative of everything they’ve done for me in making me who I am today. I want to instill these family values in my daughter, too. I want her to grow, love and appreciate her grandparents.
I want to keep things as simple as possible for as long as possible for my daughter. By that I mean, limiting technology and focusing more on letting Camryn use her imagination and creativity and letting her be a kid before she feels like she has to be an adult.
I think Ed and I can both agree that while being a parent is the coolest thing we’ve ever done, it doesn’t come without its challenges. Like anything, you have to work at it, and most importantly, work with each other. We look forward to the years to come, as we age together and watch Camryn grow up.
Aging shouldn’t be seen as a scary thing, but instead, a normal part of life. I still want to be capable as I age – I still want to be a role model who engages in regular physical activity, stimulating educational and cognitive opportunities, and a mom and wife who provides all the love I possibly can. Age won’t change that.
You tell me,
How do you view aging? Do you think it’s a scary thing or just a part of life?
How have your parents changed over the years, or if you’re a parent, how has your parenting style changed?