Bringing your baby home from the hospital can be a surreal experience. There is a great deal of tears (from baby and parents), laughter, cooing, and chaos. But you don’t have to do it all by yourself – there are often family members and friends lining up to help you. At least, this was the case until 2020.
With South Africa currently in level 1 lock down and the threat of a third wave of the pandemic looming, isolation has become more important than ever. Of course, if you have a new baby at home, this can be easier said than done. In addition to handling your responsibilities as a new parent, you are also having to cope with the realities of parenting during COVID-19.
This can leave new parents feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Even if you have older children (which brings with it different challenges such as what’s being posted across social media), the idea of bringing up younger children during a pandemic is enough to put pressure on any parent.
If parenting during COVID-19 is something that you’re struggling to do, here are some top tips to help you out during this difficult time.
Make sure you’re splitting duties
Before the outbreak, it was easy to get help from willing family members and friends. At the very least, you had a grandparent or two willing to hold the baby while you took a shower or ran some errands. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible anymore – new parents are on their own.
Needless to say, this can lead to you feeling overwhelmed, since you have to juggle quite a bit more. So, how can you cope in this instance? Here, it is all about the division of labour. You and your partner should be equally sharing responsibilities. This way, the work gets cut in half. Not to mention, you will have a lot more time to spend together as well.
Take care of yourself
Whether it is the demands of being a new parent or the worries regarding COVID-19, it can be easy to stop taking care of yourself. You may not eat proper meals or fail to exercise on a regular basis. Not only can these bad habits compromise your health, but it can also have a negative impact on your mental health.
So, start by planning out your meals a little better. Not in the mood to cook? Look for healthy foods that you can whip up quickly, maybe even without turning your stove on. Keep the processed foods to a minimum and load up on fruits and vegetables instead.
If you can get some fresh air and exercise, do try to manage this. Take the proper precautions to wear a mask and ensure that your baby is well-protected to. Carry hand sanitiser and check that no one comes too close to you and your little one. You should also exercise indoors as well. Take a portable bed or cot and keep your little one beside you. Then, workout as needed. It will make you feel a whole lot better.
Look for online healthcare support
It is natural to freak out about how your baby is doing as a new parent. Every sneeze or too-long cry can seem suspicious. To ensure that your baby is in peak health, accumulate a number of online healthcare contacts. This could be a paediatrician, pediatric nurse, or even a doula.
Just have someone that you can call or message if you have any questions. This way, you will be able to put your mind at ease and take some of the stress out of being a new baby. Remember that if you have serious concerns, though, it is best to take your baby to a hospital.
Social distancing doesn’t mean an end to socialising
The main problem with isolating during the pandemic is the feelings of isolation that come along with it! This can increase when you have a new baby. After all, this was supposed to be a time for you to show off your little one to family members and friends. Thus, you may feel especially removed from those closest to you, particularly your parents.
Well, just because you need to partake in social distancing doesn’t mean that the socialising has to come to a total stop. Use technology to keep you with the people in your life. This is particularly important for new grandparents. They can often feel like they are missing out and may feel rather down about it. Video calls on a regular basis, however, can make them feel more involved.
These calls can be detrimental for your sanity as well. Talking to people – especially ones that haven’t thrown up on you that day – can act as a stress reliever. You can voice concerns, talk about any issues you may be facing, or simply gossip!
These are all the ways that you can cope as a new parent during the pandemic. It will be tough, but this is definitely something that you will be able to manage and get through.
Written by Chathurika Kahavita