Mental Health Awareness Week and Parenting | Perfect Parents

Annie Belasco from the PANDAS Foundation shares tips on how to cope with the pressures of parenting.

1) Every pregnancy to child journey is and will be different as there is no rule book. Follow what works well for YOU and remember there is no parenting criteria to fill other than love and care.

2) Focus on presence as opposed to presents. Babies and children will always remember time spent with parents, reading a book, playing in the garden and having cuddles. Toys are easily used and then forgotten about! 

3) Talk about how you feel and be as open as you can. The (very) likelihood is that another parent is feeling the same or perhaps in a different way and does not feel like they can talk about it for fear of being judged. Negative experiences and feelings should and need to be acknowledged so that we can share coping mechanisms.

4) When in doubt, go out. Fresh air and exercise even 10 minutes a day can make a huge impact on a parents day. To break a day up, to refresh and re energise. 

5) Keep an eye on your mood. Feelings of sadness, anxiety, panic and compulsions can often be dismissed as “baby blues.” This can be a dangerous assumption of how someone may feel – when feelings that don’t naturally go away can be the sign of a developing mental related illness.

6) Say “No!” it’s ok to put boundaries and rules in place in your home around your child. Often bringing a new baby into this world can be exciting for everyone. Every parent needs their own space to think, and to parent their way. It’s ok to say not today to visitors if it doesn’t fit in with your routine! 

7) Self-care, from 5 minutes a day to 2 days a week. Make time for you. Outlets such as exercise (43%) and ‘me time’ (43%) helps parents deal with the stresses and anxiety associated with first time parenthood, research by Little Freddie found. Use any offers of support around you and take time for you. It’s so important to keep the YOU in the parent, you’re still an adult who needs to have other focuses such as work, socialising and time to relax and unwind. It’s ok to hand the baby over if you are comfortable with it.

8) Don’t compare yourself to any other parent. You and your child are unique and your way will always be best for you. Trust your own judgement. No one really knows how to ‘be’ a parent but every parent knows their own child and what works and what does not. 51% of parents worry about when to start weaning and 41% aren’t sure what advice they should follow and whether they’re doing it right, which can cause a lot of anxiety, found in research by Little Freddie.

9) Share a Smile with other parents. 76% of new parents said that something as simple as a fellow parent sharing a smile would brighten their day. Being open and honest about how you’re feeling with fellow parents, as it is likely other parents are going through exactly the same thing. This goes hand in hand with supporting other parents, Little Freddie’s research shows that even something as small as sharing a smile with a parent during a testing time can go further than you know 

10) When feeling low, panicky, depressed, anxious, isolated and lonely speak to someone who you trust about how you feel. Talking therapy is widely available as are local groups such as PANDAS Foundation networks (Helpline, email support and groups). Speak to your DR, GP, midwife, health visitor or even a neighbour. Someone you can confide in who can provide advice, signposting and empathy. 

Annie Belasco, PANDAS Foundation

The Little Freddie ‘Little Known Facts’ campaign aims to share the facts around weaning and the shared challenges parents face, alongside nutritional facts that helps parents make the right choice on their weaning journey. For more information on Little Freddie range head over to the website www.littlefreddie.com  

About The Author

My Baba

"My Baba is packed with expert advice and information on all aspects of fertility, pregnancy, motherhood and parenting. We're constantly researching and reviewing the latest educational toys, gadgets and gizmos, and blogging about the latest crafts, activities, fashions and mouth-watering family recipes. My Baba is also the ultimate present guide with unique gift ideas for babies, toddlers and children of all ages." Leonora Bamford, Founder

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