Imagine for a moment that your new normal is waking constantly with a crying baby that is eager to eat every two hours. New parenthood is being torn between being extremely tired yet wanting to spend every second nurturing a precious new soul. It’s yearning to understand what each cry means so that you can quickly calm and care for your baby.
Imagine for a moment that your new normal is feeling confined within the walls of your home because of the endless demands and unfamiliarity of welcoming a new child. It’s new territory, a weakened immune system that is earnestly trying to grow stronger and develop, and a little body trying to adjust to a brand-new world.
Imagine for a moment that life with a newborn means quickly showering or running to use the bathroom so you can tend to hunger cries that begin to rage in the background. It’s spending countless hours on the couch feeding the baby for the first few weeks.
Imagine for a moment that your new normal is washing and folding soiled baby clothes, guzzling coffee to keep you awake, and constantly checking Google to see if your child’s symptoms are normal or if it’s worth a phone call to the pediatrician’s office.
Life with children can alter and shake your entire world. Before kids, you are able to be spontaneous and go to the movies after 7:00 p.m., run to the gym after work without a second thought, go out to dinner on a whim without worrying about screaming toddlers who may throw food, and having the ability to quickly shower and leave the house at any given time. Shopping trips didn’t involve figuring out diaper changes in public restrooms and constant feeding schedules.
Needless to say, many new parents tend to face an identity crisis after bringing children into the world. Raising children is not a mundane task that can or should be taken lightly. Having children means raising little humans who are completely and utterly dependent on you for their food, education, love, nurturing, and mental, emotional, and spiritual development.
It is a life-changing task that while tiring, changes you from the inside-out for the better. It’s a milestone in life that can help you grow and develop into the person and role model that God wants you to be for the little people that now depend on you.
3 Steps to Avoiding an Identity Crisis as a New Parent
In thinking about embracing the new adventure of parenthood, here are three steps to remember who you are.
1. Accept your new normal.
The first step is to realize that your life is changing for the better and the craziness and sleep depravity that come with having a newborn represents a short-lived phase. While the beginning may seem overwhelming, the around-the-clock feedings, the constant diaper changes, and soiled clothes, the vomit-stained shirts are all temporary.
While each new phase of parenthood will bring new tasks and challenges to overcome and stages of development, the newborn phase is one that may leave you the most physically taxed. It is key to know that during this time it is healthy to ask for help. It’s a great idea to have your mom bring you coffee, help throw in a load of laundry, or help you with the piled up dishes.
This phase is exhausting, and it is important to know that you are not alone. Accept the help. Accept the coffee shop gift cards. Accept the offer from people at your church to drop off homemade meals after you arrive home from the hospital. Know that it is okay to enjoy baby cuddles and do the dishes in a few hours.
Know it’s okay to order your groceries online and pick them up because you feel overwhelmed with the thought of trying to grocery shop with a newborn. Let someone hold the baby while you take a nice hot shower. Accepting help in the craziness of this new phase is crucial to your physical and emotional health.
Don’t let the small day-to-day tasks steal your joy and prevent you from enjoying the new milestones that come with having a newborn. Let your church or spiritual mentor rally around you and ask how you are doing. Communicate your feelings and know that postpartum health can vary from person to person.
2. Take time as a couple and as an individual.
In the new parenting phase, your world quickly shifts to revolving around this precious little soul that has entered the world. While they are and should be one of your top priorities, it is also important to carve out time as a couple. Invest in your marriage and in the unique person God has gifted you with.
Take quick trips to the coffee shop together, continue going to church together, hold hands when you can, and make praying together a priority. God united and brought you together as a couple to raise your children, but to do so, you must be united and on one accord.
While marriage may not be always seeing eye-to-eye, it is important to continue healthy communication, continue getting to know your spouse, and continue making your relationship with one another a priority. Leave one another love notes. Ask your spouse how they are doing. Share your feelings on this new phase of parenting. Pray with and for one another. Help each other through the hurdles and hold hands when things get difficult.
During the new parent identity crisis, it can become all too easy to feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself. Your dreams and goals can quickly be put on the back burner. Perhaps your life before kids meant writing songs, going to the gym every morning, having a Friday night game night with other couples, or simply taking time to hike and soak in God’s creation.
Try to carve out time for physical, emotional, and spiritual rejuvenation by doing tasks like these to continue growing and evolving into the unique individual God created you to be. Even if it’s a few minutes here and there, every minute counts.
3. Make Christ the center of your home.
In a world that is bombarded with “perfect” family social media photos, busy and chaotic schedules, and endless to do lists; the heart and soul of a healthy home is Jesus. He is the foundation that can help individuals and couples face and withstand the storms of life.
Billy Graham said, “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” Finances may be tight, jobs may be stressful, sleep may be disrupted for several months, but Jesus can bring hope and strength that you never knew existed.
In a world that often tries to push the idea of perfection on families, it is healthy to admit when you need help. It’s healthy to apologize to your spouse or your child when you raise your voice too quickly. It’s healthy to ask for help if you are dealing with postpartum emotions or just need someone to watch the baby for 30 minutes while you shower and do laundry. Your emotional and spiritual health can help you push through the difficult times.
It’s important to realize that no perfect family exists, unlike what social media in this day and age tries to portray. All stages of parenthood will bring numerous challenges and lessons that can be learned, but it is important to take it one day at a time, one prayer at a time, one phase at a time.
Soak in the baby cuddles and sleep when you can. Know it’s okay to ask for help. Know it’s okay to see a counselor to help you deal with postpartum emotions or if you are facing an identity crisis.
“3 Crosses”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Parents’ Hands and Baby’s Feet”, Courtesy of Andreas Wohlfahrt, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Holding Hands”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Delicate Flower”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License