Where to find the energy for early-year parenting?

Stepping into the role of mother or father of an infant can be one of the most exhausting jobs you’ll ever have. Your newborns’ irregular rhythms will throw your own into disarray. Contemporary wisdom tells us that their needs should be met whenever they arise – be it dawn, late afternoon, or three in the morning.

Many of your responsibilities at this early stage of the game are invisible. Even when you may not seem to be “doing much”, you are actually nurturing the growth of your young ones with your life energies. It’s no wonder that you end up feeling so depleted. Unfortunately, this very lack of energy can inhibit your ability to be effective as parents. You do this job best when you are feeling healthy and happy yourselves. In order to achieve this, you have to take steps to replenish that energy that goes into rearing the children.

No sleep, no health

Of course, the biggest source of rejuvenation is what is most often infringed upon by your new routine: sleep. Some adjustments will be necessary to compensate for this. The easiest way to make up for sleep deprivation is to coordinate naps of our own alongside our young ones. Infants and young children can usually be relied upon to nap a couple of hours in the mid- or late-afternoon when their energies typically wane. You’d do well to take advantage of this time in order to catch up ourselves.

Take care of yourself

Nutrition is especially important at this time, particularly for breastfeeding mothers. It is a good idea to take some vitamin and mineral supplements in order to replace the nutrients that go towards nourishing the baby. Moderate exercise such as walking – especially out in natural environments – can help revitalize your bodies when you’ve been forced to spend so much of the time indoors.

Ask for support

If we have the support of spouses, partners, or family members, you might be able to carve out small periods of time to spend alone. An hour or so of solitude each day can have an incredibly refreshing effect on your bodies and emotions. You can then return to the tasks involved with mothering or fathering with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Caring for children during the first year of their lives can be exhausting due to the many ways in which your accustomed daily routines become disrupted. Short of forcing your little ones to adapt to your schedules, your only recourse is to readjust your living habits so that you can take advantage of the small moments of peace and quiet that come, and use that time to rejuvenate your bodies, minds, and spirits. Then you’ll have more energy to devote to one of the most difficult but rewarding jobs you’ll ever have: parenting.