Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world around us has shifted dramatically. The repercussions of this global crisis has greatly devastated millions of families. Of the many people affected, new parents are presented with even more uncertainty than ever before.
Right now you may be feeling isolated, stressed, exhausted, or perhaps a mixture of all the emotions. We want you to know that it’s not only okay to be feeling this way, but it’s perfectly normal. Perhaps you’re exploring new methods to cope as a new parent but just when you gain back some control, life happens and you are back to square one. We want you to know that you are not alone in this.
While becoming a new parent is oftentimes a happy and joyous occasion, it can come with added frustration, irritability, and uncertainty, especially right now. When seeking support, it’s important to connect with a trusted partner, friend, or family member who can both empathize and validate your emotions. Let’s take a closer look into how you can find parental support during a pandemic.
Reaching Out for Support
Before reaching out to a loved one, it’s important to understand what kind of parental support you’re currently in need of. Sometimes without the right request, you’ll receive unsolicited advice that can lead to even more confusion or frustration.
Types of helpful parenting support include:
Practical support: this type of support implies the action of helping out with a task. This can include any day-to-day duties of parenting such as helping with laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, feeding the kids, and so on.
Personal support: this type of parenting support should be directed to you, the parent. This could be as simple as having a friend to vent to after a stressful day or a partner provide a comforting shoulder massage.
Informational support: this type of support involves receiving guidance or instruction about certain areas of parenthood. It’s important to direct these questions to a fellow parent from whom you trust receiving input.
Once you’ve identified the kind of parenting support you need, communicate this with your partner, friend, or family member. Depending on if you’re looking for advice, a solution, or someone who will simply listen to you and validate your feelings, be sure to make that apparent early.
Social Interactions During a Pandemic
One of the primary concerns most new parents have throughout this time is the lack of social interaction their newborn receives. Although the pandemic can be incredibly isolating, it’s not something you should worry about throughout this time. Research has shown that babies receive all of the social interaction they need from their primary caregiver(s).
In other words, your baby will not be negatively affected if they miss out on the local “baby and me” programs that are no longer running. You can rest assured that the most important thing right now is spending quality time with your baby.
Finding Support as a New Parent During a Pandemic
Throughout this time where programs are shut down and people are restricted from visiting their friends and family, we are still very fortunate to have so many amazing options as new parents. Thanks to the beautiful outdoors and online world, there is an abundance of supportive outlets available in your community. Here are the top 8 ways you can receive support while limiting face-to-face contact.
Reach out for help: First and foremost, when you’re seeking parental support, reach out to a trusted person in your life. Whether that be your partner, a friend, or a family member, it’s better to ask for help early before you become too overwhelmed. Remember to clarify which of the 3 areas of parental support you need, and communicate this to your loved one.
Virtual hangouts with other parents: Setting up weekly zoom or facetime visits with other parents can be helpful for both you and your fellow confidant. It’s helpful to schedule these times around your baby’s naptime to make the most out of these visits.
Social distanced walk: Ask a friend or family member to join you outside for a nature walk. Not only does this give you a chance to get out of the house, but it’s also a great opportunity to connect with a loved one while getting some exercise along the way.
Attend an online parent group: It’s always nice meeting other like-minded individuals who are going through the same hardships as you are. Find an online parent group in your community to receive virtual support. Not only will this help you out, but you have the chance to help other parents in need too.
Seek out professional help: There are plenty of supportive professionals who have taken their services virtual due to the onset of Covid-19. For example, both Tiny Bites Nutrition and Isla Grace Sleep are devoted to supporting and educating new parents in two very important areas of your baby’s life.
a) Tiny Bites Nutrition helps support transitioning your little one to solid foods, navigating nutritional challenges, educating parents about the nutritional needs of children as they grow, and so much more.
b) Isla Grace Sleep is a supportive forum that educates new parents about infant sleep. These professionals provide a ton of great tips to help you navigate sleep-related concerns while focusing on the attachment and connection between you and your child.
Practice self-care: Let’s face it, it’s easy to forget about yourself when all your focus and attention is directed to a new little one in the family. At the end of the day, if you neglect to take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy to give to someone else — especially when it comes to your baby. To ensure you give the best care to your little ones, you must make sure that you’re continuously caring for yourself too.
Online breastfeeding support: There are a variety of locations across Ontario that offer virtual support with a registered public health nurse. Check out your local region to see what kind of support is available. Also, the International Breastfeeding Centre offers virtual appointments, free handouts, and educational videos in a variety of languages.
Book a counselling session: Babies and toddlers aren’t the only ones who experience big emotions. Oftentimes, being a parent can be an emotional rollercoaster. If you find yourself struggling to adapt and navigate through parenthood, it’s important to reach out for professional counselling. On Your Mind Counselling has clinicians who specialize in the area of parenthood and deal with various health concerns such as anxiety, (postpartum) depression, OCD, stress, relationships, and more.
Gaining more control over your life during a pandemic can be difficult — even more so when you’re navigating your way through parenthood. When you’re seeking help from others, it’s important to first understand what kind of parenting support you need. This can guide you towards making a successful plan for you and your baby throughout the upcoming days, weeks, and even months!
Being a new parent is never easy. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy to take on to reach success. At the end of the day, providing love and support in the best way you can offer is all that matters. Remember, you’re not alone in the journey. Consider all your options and try out something that works well for you and your family.