I like lists. They give me the feeling (or maybe the illusion?) of being in control. Buy milk? Check. Get the oil changed? Check. But after I had my son, lists gave me another feeling—guilt.
Pre-baby, I had planned to do all sorts of things with him while he was awake—and accomplish others while he napped. But he had different ideas. He never slept for long stretches of time, and crying was a hobby of sorts. When he slept, so did I. If I was out of my bathrobe and showered by 3 p.m., I felt as if I’d accomplished something. And that made me feel guilty.
You’re Not Alone
In fact, guilt is a common emotion after the birth of a child. Many of us are used to striving for perfection, and if we’re not checking things off the how-to-raise-the-perfect-child to-do list, we’re somehow inadequate. With so much information available about what to do at every age and stage—not to mention the glowing social media posts of friends and celebrities detailing everything from baby’s swim lessons to designer layettes—it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Safe and Loved
The thing to remember is that there is no one right way to raise your unique baby. I’m not saying to ignore the experts—there is plenty of useful information out there, especially about health and safety. Just remember that your first priority is to make your baby feel safe and loved. Everything else will follow in time.
Keep It Simple
And give yourself a break. Many of the best things you can do with your baby—such a read a book or sing a song—are also the simplest. So when you feel guilty, take a step back and try to put it in perspective. No tummy time today? Don’t worry, it won’t ruin his life. Just relax and try again tomorrow.