It Takes a Village
When we become parents, we encounter a whole new set of experiences, sometimes for the first time, or sometimes in a different way. Because we are new to parenthood we sometimes lack confidence to admit to or work towards changing situations that are difficult for us, but more than likely most other new parents are feeling the same way.
It is not uncommon for new parents, especially mothers and stay-at-home dads, to experience feelings of isolation during your first few weeks or months at home, especially if you worked full-time before having a baby, or have just moved into an unfamiliar area. Extended feelings of isolation can lead to depression. If you can, take the time to explore your local area and its facilities so you can go for a walk to alleviate the blues, entertain a bored toddler, or meet with a local friend for a coffee & chat.
Feelings of distress or lack of confidence to cope with all the new responsibilities are also common. If you can, try to join a group with other parents & new bubs so you can share your experiences and act as a support group for each other.
Parents often feel frustration due to the lack of clean and functional facilities like baby change rooms and public toilets. Frustration can be also due to the lack of parents' parking spots or children's play areas. Speak up if you are frustrated with the facilities that your community is providing you with (or lack thereof), speak to (or email) your local council. Councils often spend a lot of money trying to get feedback from the community, so lets be assertive (and polite!) and give it to them for free.
Parents also find it frustrating at lengthy retailer queues with a tired infant or bored toddler when you know full well that the store can afford to employ more staff. Likewise frustration with retailers that leave the lollies and chocolates within toddler-tempting distance and then expect you to pay for the damage. Speak up, speak up! If you have a good idea that can benefit the rest of us parents, like suggesting to shop retailers that they provide a basket of toys so we can browse with a little bit of peace, then let them know. Tell shopping mall managers if toilets or change rooms are not up to scratch, or if change room cubicles are too small to comfortably fit yourself, a pram, and the clothes you are trying on.
More frustration: Frustration with the lack of child care places available and the long waiting lists for those there are. Frustration with employers for not offering more part-time work opportunities, or child care on-site, or the opportunity to work from home. Speak up, speak up, speak up! If you liked your job, talk with your employers and try to create opportunities for yourself. It saves them having to hire and train new employees, and means that they get to retain a committed employee who enjoys their job all the more as a part-timer.
And don't lose heart because there IS plenty of community support out there and some wonderful organisations waiting to help: below are some national numbers for Australia, or refer to your particular state or territory.
Raising Children Network, www.raisingchildren.net.au
Good Beginnings, www.goodbeginnings.net.au
Australian Breastfeeding Association, www.breastfeeding.asn.au
PANDA, (Post & Ante Natal Depression Association) www.panda.org.au
SANDS (Stillbirth, Neonatal Death and Miscarriage Support) www.sands.org.au/
Men's Line Australia 1300 789 978 .www.menslineaus.org.au
Australian Childhood Foundation 1800 176 453, www.childhood.org.au
Australian Multiple Birth Association, www.amba.org.au
Cerebral Palsy Alliance, www.cerebralpalsy.org.au
Reflux Infants Support Association (RISA) www.reflux.org.au
Relationships Australia (counselling and courses) 1300 364 277, www.relationships.com.au
Child Support Agency 13 1272
Family Counselling Legal Advice 1902 283 534
Pregnancy Helpline 1300 139 313