As any parent will know, having your first baby is a huge adjustment to your life. No matter how much any parents-to-be will say “we don’t want having a child to change our lifestyle”, in reality this cannot be helped. Children do change your life. But even though they change your life, they are also the greatest blessings you could ever receive. Becoming a parent teaches you many things and helps you grow as a person in numerous ways. Just as adjusting to having your first baby can be a challenge, having your second or even third child is another challenge all on its own.

Mom needs support structure
Credit: OMG … what? on Flickr via CC 2.0

This is a 3-part series on: Your Support Structure, Delegation and School & Play Time.

I discovered after having my first child that no one really speaks of the realities of parenthood. We were the first of our friends to start a family and this put us at a disadvantage as there was no one to ask who had gone through it already! Even when we befriended others having a child for the first time, still I found there was a resistance from people to be honest and real about the challenges they faced.  It took a long time before I finally met people who, like me, were open about the changes a child creates in your life and how to cope with them.

People can be very proud and not want to admit to the real challenges they face. I find it is by being open, true to yourself and family, and seeking the support you need, that really helps you face these challenges in a more productive and positive manner. Pretending your life is perfect is only going to make things worse for you, not anyone else. In reality everyone has challenges; it’s how you choose to tackle them that makes your family function more positively.

How then can you make life and this adjustment easier for your family?

Support Structures

A support network is a huge advantage when having children. Whether it is direct family support or very good friendship/s…any support is welcome when raising children. I know many different families and those who have support around them have it a lot easier than those who don’t. Sometimes it seems like those who have the support don’t realize how lucky they are, and also don’t learn how to do things completely on their own. Whether this is in fact a disadvantage for them is debatable. At the end of the day those families who have a great deal of support have more time to do what they need or want to do more freely. Families who don’t have support need to get things done regardless of whether they can freely act on their own or with children in hand.

If you have grandparents close by, or aunts and uncles - get them involved. Ideally there should be a good relationship between one another and they need to be trustworthy when entrusted with your precious children.  Some people have a natural skill with children and others just don’t. If you are going to be asking for help in terms of babysitting then you need to know the person caring for your child is attentive, knows and understands your child or baby’s needs, follows your values and is a responsible adult. If this is not the case then all that will happen is you will worry about your child’s well-being. If you are not 100% at ease with particular individuals caring for your child or baby then don’t allow them. Your baby or child’s well-being comes first! Just because it is a family member doesn’t mean they are a better choice over a very good friend.

Children reading book with uncle
Credit: Reading Time with Uncle Bob on Flickr via CC 2.0

In our own family we do not have any support from family members as the family we do have live too far away. What I find works really well when we need some assistance in babysitting  our son is asking our friends who have a daughter the same age as him and  in the same class. We rest assured when he is with them because (a) he has a friend to play with (b) we see them often so he is very comfortable with them (c) they have their own daughter and know how to care for a child as well as having good values and attentive natures. I find a friend of ours who doesn’t have children but is very good with children is also a wonderful option for us if we need some help with babysitting. A further option is our son’s day care teacher. She is a wonderful and trustworthy lady who our son adores. This obviously costs us but if we really need assistance and no one else is able to help out then this is our next best option.

Having friends who have children is a great support system for us. I say this because they understand what it is like to have children. In this way you can support one another through venting about the common experiences and offer one another helpful coping mechanisms that each one finds to work. If you socialize it’s usually easier as both families know when and where the best places are to go with children, and your children get to socialize too.

I’m sure as a parent you will have noticed that friends without children are not as easy to socialize with anymore. They just don’t understand what it is like to have children so they tend to be on a whole different wavelength, do or want to do things that just don’t work for your family anymore, and most likely don’t want to hear your endless stories of your beloved amazing kids (which you love to talk about – as any parent does).

So, to help you cope with your grow

Practical Support Measures to Assist You Daily:

  1. Build on those supportive friendships.
  2. Ask a trustworthy friend or family member to baby sit.
  3. Join a mommy group.
  4. Have play dates with other moms and children.
  5. Ask for help from trusted family members who live close by.
  6. Have family get togethers for the dads to socialize too.