Welcome home to you and baby! It’s been months of planning. You’ve been poring over paperwork, painting the nursery, and sweating all sorts of details. As you are transitioning home with your newly adopted baby, you will likely get all kinds of (unsolicited) advice.
The most common wisdom folks give any new parent is to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” It’s great advice for bringing home a baby, truly. But there is other practical wisdom to consider, to help you navigate a smooth(er) transition home with your newly adopted baby.
Setting Realistic Expectations
The first few tips deal with your expectations for this new season. The key to a smooth(-ish) transition is setting realistic expectations. Specifically, here are a few areas in which you can re-adjust your expectations for a more seamless transition home after the baby arrives.
1. Re-define Your Idea of Productivity
Lower your expectations for what you will get done other than surviving these early days and weeks with your baby. Plan to get nothing done beyond taking care of yourself and the baby. I mean nothing. Zip. Nada. Tell yourself that a good day is putting on actual clothes. A good month is shaving your legs… once. Expect little and be thrilled if you meet those expectations.
2. Set Your Sights on “Better than Average”
Lower expectations for yourself as a parent. We all go into parenting with the expectation that we will be the perfect parent. We may not say it out loud, but deep down, we all expect it. It turns out, none of us will ever achieve that perfection! You will feel frustration at this (sleepless) baby you so desperately wanted. You will dislike the enormous responsibility of parenting at times. Occasionally, you will maybe even wish that you had never worked so darn hard to achieve this dream.
None of this means that you are a failure… it means that you’re a human. Rather than expect perfection, shoot for “better than average,” especially during this transition.
3. Allow Grace in Adapting
Lower the expectations you might be holding for how you and baby will bond. While you have been planning for this adoption and dreaming about your new life, it’s still a new experience. Change – while welcome – is not easy.
Additionally, remember that if the baby was prenatally exposed, she might have some physical difficulties in accepting comfort. She might turn to you during this period, but she might turn away from you. Give yourself and your baby the grace of both time and patience while you adapt.
Make Self-Care a Priority
These next few tips are of the “self-care” variety. They are practical and accessible in their simplicity. Remember that it’s about “progress, not perfection.” A healthy mom and/or dad makes for a happier baby.
4. Strip Away the Extras
Simplify your life in whatever ways you while transitioning home with your newly adopted baby. Prepare simple meals for yourself and your family. Use paper plates as often as you can stand them. Reduce participation in outside activities that aren’t rewarding to you.
5. Feed Your Soul
Make time for the activities that “feed you” and make you feel like you. You were a whole person before this baby entered your home. Your life was full of interesting diversions while you waited for the adoption to take place. Carve out time for those during this season, even if it happens in tiny increments.
6. Keep Building Your Foundation
Make your relationship with your partner (if you have one) a top priority. Again, remember that you were a family before your newly adopted baby showed up. The relationship with your partner is the foundation of your expanding family. Nurture it and build a strong foundation even while you are transitioning home – it’s right for you, your partner and your child.
7. Make New Friends
Find a new peer group of new parents even if you are the oldest in the group. It won’t matter because the experience of being new parents will bond you, even if you are of different ages. You need a group of friends who “get” the newness of the baby stage. These friends will cheer with you for baby’s first steps and can commiserate with you over sleepless nights of teething. Creating a Family has a wonderful online support community that will be happy to cheer you on, as well!
You Will Find Your Groove
Transitioning home with a newly adopted baby can be the most joyous days you’ll have. They can also be the most exhausting, stressful, and overwhelming days you will experience. In the joy and in the struggle, you will find the new normal that fits your new family.
Someday, when you’ve slept more than 5 consecutive hours, you will realize that you took care of yourself, your relationship, and your child in practical and reasonable ways. And that you didn’t have to do it by performing unattainable, superhuman feats of perfection.
Image Credit: tostadophoto.com;Bee Collins