If we are all in this together then why are so many expectant and new parents feeling abandoned? Care providers have decreased their prenatal and post-birth visits. Partners are unable to attend visits, and ask questions about their concerns or hear the responses. Extended families feel at a loss of how to help once the baby arrives. It's hard not being able to enter the home and give hands-on support. The new parent groups and activities people had planned on using for adult interaction while on mat leave are now cancelled. Collectively we agree this is disappointing.
When I chat with families that have new babies they state how nice it is to have their partners at home with them a lot longer than anticipated, and that they are getting to learn about their babies faster, free from outside influence. It feels more connected. They feel free to let their homes be a bit messier while they tend to the vital work of discovering this new human. They are not busying themselves with the implied should-s, and instead are following what their family's needs are, and respecting the ebb and flow of an unhurried pace.
Families and friends are finding new ways to support them that are not as hands-on. Imagine, putting your dirty laundry on your porch, later that day it arrives, washed and folded. If you are super lucky there is a snack or meal along with it. Video conferencing calls give older siblings one-on-one time with a loved one. Story time with a grandparent is a great way to keep the kids entertained while parents nap with the new baby. While you are feeding the baby why not setting up a virtual Lego building contest, or crafting session with a friend from school/daycare and their parent?
There are several parenting groups and forums you can tap into, even if you are averse to social media. Knowing other parents out there, going through the same things you are, is so reassuring. Hearing what others have tried that worked, or were an epic fail, can help you decide what feels like the best approach for your family. Other new parents are going to be up through the night as well. Sometimes those 3 am feeding session forum chats provide welcome relief, incredible insights, and some good laughs. Parent and baby yoga videos and live sessions can be found on YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms. Infant sign language classes are a ton of fun. And with the virtual world there is no driving with a kid who is averse to the car seat. You don't end up late because just as you were about to head out the door there was a diaper blowout.
Yes we are missing out on a great many things. But we are also realizing the impact of the lifestyle we had before. Was it truly sustainable? Was it working for us? What did we take for granted?
As I type I keep glancing at a photo beside my screen that says 'Time is not refundable'. It is my reminder to not get lost in my work or distracted tasks. My relationships with myself and my loved ones are what bring me the most return on investment. Those moments are the ones that provide the riches of life.
Time is not refundable, and you are not alone. Though I enjoy the quiet pace of a kayak, someone else may be rocking a jet ski, and another a party boat in Monaco. We are all in a vessel on the water, riding the ebb and flow that each day brings us. Find the connection, your life raft. With breathing space we can enrich the relationships we have, seeing boundary lines we always pushed, setting prioritizes, and treating ourselves with more loving grace.
What have you implemented to stay connected? To support others or receive support in meaningful ways? Share your stories of love by commenting below.