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Relax, ignore the mess and accept help - Top tips for new parents

Put down Gina Ford, go with your gut and you’ll get through it.

Image: Shutterstock/Natalia Deriabina

This article is part of our Change Generation project, supported by KBC. To read more click here.

THE FIRST YEAR OF parenting is a voyage into the unknown.

The library is full of books on how to do it all breezily and with a smile on your face, but what’s the real deal?

We asked some of our readers for their top tips on surviving the first year.

Do it your way

Mother of two, Katie Vanston, says forget about all the ‘advice’ and do it your way.

Go with the flow and you will develop a natural routine. Don’t put yourself through the torture of Gina Ford.

Kates Katie Vanston with her son Hugo and daughter Astrid Source: Katie Vanston

Katie also says that from her experience a happy parent equals a happy baby, so remember to look after yourself and cherish the little moments:

Self-care is key. These beautiful tiny humans are full-on, so be as kind to yourself as you are to your baby. The days are long, but the years are short! Enjoy the madness, the little moments, they are fleeting and magic!

Source: @RememberTheFada

Dilly O’Brien lives in Dublin with her husband and three children. She says it’s important to remember that all babies are different, so what works for someone else might not be the right thing for your little munchkin.

You can’t compare your situation to others. Always give breastfeeding a go and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work out. Trust your gut.

Source: The London Mother/Twitter

Enjoy it

“The first year can be as stressful as it can be magical, and the constant drive to attend to their needs feels like we’re always fire-fighting,” says Han-Son Lee who runs his parenting blog, daddilife, in London.

Daddy and Max Han-Son Lee and his son Max on his first trip abroad Source: Han-Son Lee

“One thing I did to help was adopt a ‘reset’ button. For some in the daddilife community they get that by sitting together and holding hands with their kids, for others it’s putting out the washing and taking a deep breath!

For me, every month or two, I looked through all those baby pictures and videos, from the very beginning, and it had a wonderful effect in making me truly appreciate the journey I’m on as a dad.

Accept help

“When help is offered – take it. Don’t second guess it,” says mother of one, Caroline Clarke.

We Irish can be a little insincere at times – ‘call me if there is anything I can do,’ and not really mean it. Well tough! You offered so now you have to pick up my shopping from Tesco’s click & collect! Off you go!

“As a first time mum I felt I had to prove myself by being able to do it all like I had before. This led to crazy situations like ironing at 5.30am! Take the help.”

Skin to skin contact

“The first year as a new parent can be magical and challenging but take a minute to think how it must be for the baby. Compared to other species, human babies are the most helpless of all and depend completely on their caregiver. How scary is that for the baby?” says Dil Wickremasinghe, social justice and mental health broadcaster with Newstalk.

Source: Dil Wickremasinghe

If I can give just one tip to first-time parents to help build a lasting bond with your baby it would be this – practice skin-to-skin contact as much as possible! Do this by breastfeeding, babywear using a sling, co-sleep (ensure you observe safe co-sleeping guidelines), respond to your baby when they cry and hold them close to you as much as you can. This will help baby feel safe and loved and it will make the first year easier and gentler for the whole family.

Look after yourself

“Relax! Babies are actually far more resilient than you think and kind of hard to break,” says Aisling Maher in Dublin.

“Trust your gut. Accept all offers of help. Hugs, kisses, food and a clean bum is all a baby really needs to thrive so don’t get sucked into buying s**t you’ll never use.”

Mind yourself too as you’re no use to you baba if you fall down from exhaustion. It is totally OK to still be in your dressing gown at midday. Housework can wait.

Source: Kieran Cuddihy/Twitter

Been there, done that, got some top tips? Share them in the comments below.

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