Every first-time parent on this planet, ever, has – at least at some point – felt insecure. Like they have no idea what they’re doing. This is not just true for moms – dads are also highly susceptible (especially when mama bears tell them they’re doing all wrong!).
Maybe you’ve got someone in your family telling you that you’re making mistakes… failing all the time, failing your child. Maybe you’re saying that to yourself, during those difficult mornings, when your baby needs attention and you can barely keep your eyes open.
Deep down, you know that’s not true. You feed them, bathe them, entertain them, you’re doing everything you can right now to be a great parent. The best you can be.
Yet, you doubt yourself sometimes. Could you do more, if you knew what? Could you do better, if you knew how?
I understand this, because I’ve been there. It took me a while to get over the anxiety and the feelings of loneliness, failure and being overall clueless about what I’m supposed to do.
Trust me. You’re doing great. Just the fact that you decided to read this means that you care and you’re trying to do what’s best for your child. It means you think about it and want to hear what people… well, me – have to say about it. That’s great!
Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to banish anxiety and enjoy your time with the baby!
Is your baby clean, fed and overall taken care of?
I really do believe your answer is yes. Remember: babies don’t need much more than that. They’re honest little beings, and if they don’t like something – they’ll find a way to let you know. Trust me on this one.
If your little nugget doesn’t look too happy and he/she is being quiet, not smiling too much: the baby is fine. Young children don’t laugh all the time, like in the movies. Yes, you can put effort into making them laugh if you want to, but if they’re just sitting there on their own and playing, you’re doing great!
I’m putting accent on this one simply because I used to feel like this a lot. I understood that babies need self-exploration time, yet I kept wondering if I’m doing enough to actually interact.
I still try to sit on the floor or next to the playpen whenever Viktor is there, playing alone. I’m putting a lot of effort into just letting him play, knowing he’s not unhappy if he’s not squeaking and giggling at that time. I’ve gotten better at realizing I’m doing great. You are, too! Let yourself see that!
Is your baby playing on their own?
Just like I previously mentioned – if the baby is playing, it means that all the other needs are satisfied.
Babies don’t just aimlessly take the toy and say to themselves: “Alright, since no one else is watching me or making me laugh, I guess I have nothing left to do except play with these boring toys until someone notices how unhappy I am.”
Babies are honest. They play because they want to play.
Once they ask for your attention, either by trying to establish eye contact (they do that consciously, since it’s one of their few ways of calmly calling someone over), or by crying, if nothing else works.
If you notice that they’re tired of playing, pick them up. Reconnect. Show them a new way to play with their toys. Dance. Giggle. Cuddle. Now, the baby needs you, and you need to be there for them.
Is your baby tired?
Is it possible that, if your little one looks unhappy or uninterested, it’s time for a nap?
Sometimes I get so caught up in our time together that I don’t notice it’s nap time and I try to sort of fix my son’s mood. Then I look at the clock and I realize instantly what he’s missing. A nap. It’s that simple.
Babies get super tired quickly, especially when they’re playing, crawling, standing…
Make sure to allow them the time to regenerate.
Do you forgive yourself on a bad day?
This may look like an odd question. Let me explain:
When your day is going horribly, do you walk around trying to hide it from everyone? (I mean, maybe you do, but you know that’s not good for anyone… especially you… right?)
Same goes for your baby – they’re human, too. A very vulnerable, young, clueless human being who doesn’t grasp the concept of handling emotion.
Forgive them for their emotion and accept it, instead of trying to make them push it aside. You know that’s unhealthy for you, so don’t raise your child into thinking they need to hide their negative feelings. They have them just as much as you do.
Try to be there for them instead and let them know it’s okay to have those feelings. The sooner they realize that, the better they will adapt to the outside world. At some point, there will be heartbreak, or physical pain, they will have to endure. We can’t protect them from everything, not should we.
Are there other underlying reasons for feeling anxious?
This is the most often cause of feeling like you’re not doing enough for your child even when you’re with them.
Due to your own distraction, and your brain acknowledging it.
Work. Marriage. Money. Friends.
On and on it goes.
Don’t get me wrong on this one – you’re a person, too, and you obviously have other thoughts and problems occupying you. There’s no getting away from them. As much as you’re trying to do it, they catch up to you, and they result in a bigger problem that can now affect your child for real (a ruined marriage, financial issues etc.)
Resolve your problems. Don’t ignore them. You know that the quality of your child’s life depends on it, too.
If you’re still feeling guilty, though, about not being fully present, here’s something you can do. Take a break from work or whatever is occupying you and set a timer for 15 minutes. Your problems won’t go anywhere during that time.
Now, focus completely on interaction with your baby. Leave your phone or anything else that’s bothering you. Play with your baby. Teach them new words, new ways to play.
Babies are simple beings. 15 minutes of active attention does a whole lot more for them than hours on end of you being there only with your body, and not with your mind.
Do this every hour. If you’re busy with work from home, or trying to find a way to get out of financial struggle (or any kind of struggle that disturbs your family life), it’s fine to dedicate to it while looking after your baby. You’re doing it for them, not against their well-being.
Remember: we give ourselves a lot less credit than what we’re entitled to. Your baby loves you so much and you’re the best person in the world to take care of them. You’re a mom, or dad, and no one can replace that. You’re their little world. And you’re making that world a magical place. Stop worrying too much and enjoy this beautiful time with your baby!