5 Tips For New Parents During COVID-19
Having a baby in the midst of a worldwide pandemic is probably a completely different experience to what you had anticipated. COVID-related restrictions mean that new parents can't have family and friends to meet their baby, and help out at a very stressful time. You're missing out on much-needed support that people outside of your household can give, and it's easy to end up feeling isolated and alone.
There's lots of advice for new parents out there, but we've taken a look at five key tips that can help you as new parents during COVID-19.
Try to relax
Don't feel under pressure to be up and about and getting stuff done in the first few months after having a baby. And with COVID restrictions limiting what you can do at the moment try to make the most of this quieter time at home with your family. While you might feel a sense of loss about how you thought things would be, it is a good opportunity to bond as a family, relax and find your way without endless visitors.
When you do have things to get done then make the most of nap time (or take it as a chance to catch a few minutes of sleep yourself). But don't set yourself up with high expectations about what you need to get done — nobody is expecting you to be able to do everything.
If you feel overwhelmed then it could be worth trying some meditation practices to help you relax and feel more in control. You can try using an app like Insight Timer to help you with guided meditations that reduce stress and anxiety.
Look after yourself
Having a new baby is one of the most intense and tiring experiences you'll go through, and it's easy to end up neglecting yourself with everything else going on, especially during COVID. But it's important to take care of yourself so that you can keep your strength up. Make sure you're eating enough, especially if you're breastfeeding as you need to take in more calories.
If people offer to drop around food or some cooked meals for you, take them up on it — eating well is essential. Otherwise, book in regular food deliveries (if you're not easily able to get out to the supermarket) or look into a meal kit delivery service such as Gousto. These kits come with all the ingredients you need for a healthy meal, and because it only contains exactly what you're going to use it can help to reduce food waste.
Plan out childcare and activities
If you’ve already got another child, then it can be hard to adjust to life with a new baby. Balancing looking after a newborn while keeping young kids entertained is really difficult, especially if you don't have any outside help or your usual childcare arrangements have been disrupted by COVID.
Where possible try to come up with a plan at the start of the week so that you know what you need to be doing and when. If you’ve got a young toddler that’s at home then come up with a list of engaging activities to keep them occupied.
You can find a long list of educational play ideas on websites like Learning 4 Kids. Kids subscription boxes are also a great way to keep young children entertained — for example, a Sago Mini Box comes with everything you need for an engaging make-and-play activity. Each month has a different theme so it’s something for kids to look forward to and you don’t have to worry about finding the time to buy new toys..
Ask for help
If you’re feeling isolated or overwhelmed reach out to your friends and family. They might not be able to come round and help out in person, but you can schedule in regular video calls so that you have an opportunity to talk about how you’re feeling.
Having the chance to talk to someone outside of your household can give you a much-needed boost. And it’s important to maintain connections with your friends and family, especially during COVID.
Don’t forget, if you are a single parent living on your own you’re allowed to bubble up with another household, even if you’re in an area with the tightest restrictions. It’s important to get all the support you can, so consider whether there’s someone close by you could form a bubble with.
If you’re really struggling though, it’s important to take it seriously and reach out for professional help. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed or struggle with your mental health as a new parent, and the current pandemic is only going to make things more difficult.
It's easy to feel like you're in your own little bubble after having a baby, especially during COVID when you can't have people over to meet the new arrival. But you should still try to get out of the house, even just for a short walk, as often as possible but at least a few times a week. The change of scenery and some fresh air will give you a break and help you to feel connected with the outside world.
Becoming a new parent during COVID might not be what you were expecting, but it's important to focus on the positives, take care of yourself, and reach out for help when you need it.