Getting the support you need

Remember, it's normal to feel overwhelmed occasionally by the newness and unpredictability of managing so many responsibilities. But don't try to face those feelings or your new challenges on your own. It's important to get both practical and emotional support.

• Seek out people with whom you can talk about the joys and challenges of being a parent. These might be friends, family members, or other new parents. It can be a relief to share experiences and get another person's ideas about dealing with the challenges you're facing. Spend time with people who make you feel better by sharing their own experiences openly and by listening to yours. (Some people can actually make you feel worse by not admitting to their own struggles, or by making you worry more about your own.) It's amazing how much better you feel, how much more perspective you have, after you've talked things through with a sympathetic listener.

• Get as much help as you can, from as many sources as you can. Divide up chores with your spouse. Get the older kids to pitch in. Try a Saturday morning one- or two-hour family clean-the-house session. If you can afford it, hire someone to do the heavy cleaning. Enlist the services of a high school or college student to run errands, do household chores, or babysit. Let everyone who is willing to help you do so—your mother, your aunt, your sister, your spouse's family, your friends. Trade off child care arrangements with a friend, giving both of you some free time.

Contact the program that provided you with this booklet to talk with a consultant about ways to manage your new responsibilities.

If you are feeling really overwhelmed, a professional—a counselor or social worker—can offer support and helpful suggestions. It's OK to ask for help!

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