Rachel Tucker, a mom and family therapist in my community reached out to us with an offering of some best practices for managing the stress of new parenthood. She conducts home visits for new parents who are experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety.
“It’s such a common experience during the first year of parenting and many families really struggle to get help for a number of reasons,” she said. “I want to increase the mental health of rookie parents, so I am trying to make it as easy as possible for them to get support.”
In Rachel’s work as a family therapist, she gets to meet a lot of brand new parents. People who are just stumbling, bleary eyed, into the chasm between the fantasy and the reality of parenthood.
“It’s such a rich time of life. Everything is new. Everything is different. The learning curve is steep. The learning seems to happen all night long.”
“Some of us are comfortable in that place of learning. But most of us are used to feeling pretty in control, in charge, and rested. Then comes parenthood.”
“There are so many more questions than answers in those first months. I haven’t met anyone who didn’t need some help along the way. I feel so lucky to get to be there for the families who I work with.”
Here are the top five things Rachel shares with every new family she works with:
Just as your baby is learning about life you are learning to be a parent. It’s a parallel process. Learning is hard. It takes time and it involves making mistakes. Try your best to remember this and have patience with yourself.
Give some of your love and nurturing to yourself. You deserve it. You are figuring this whole parenthood thing out. Next time you look in the mirror, smile. You are doing this!!
Connect with other new parents. They are on the same crazy and amazing ride. Having one other new parent to call, text, or meet up with is a game changer. My friend Kristina saved my sanity on more than one occasion.
When you’re having a particularly hard time, find a sentence to repeat. Here are a few mantras that have worked for my clients:
- My baby is safe, I can sleep.
- I am learning and doing my best.
- I can do this.
- One step at a time.
(Related: Mantras from a triplet mom. Spoiler: When it comes to triplets, humor is mandatory.)
Enjoy the good moments. Breathe them in. These are just as real and profound as the challenges. Learn as much from these as you do from the struggle.
Related: How to behave: a Mom’s Group toolbox
Rachel has a private practice in the East Bay offering therapy to children and families. Her areas of focus include postpartum support, parenting support, child and parent relational help, behavioral difficulties, and special needs support. She offers home visits as well as service in two offices located in Oakland. Families who work with Rachel share that she helps them to feel more connected more of the time. RachelTuckerTherapy.com