First Night Out: Tips for the Nervous Parent
We’ve all been there. You love your precious angel baby and could watch them sleep and eat all day long. Until, one day, you need one hour to yourself or to have a conversation with a grownup. It seems like an easy enough problem to solve, take a break and leave your partner, trusted neighbor or family member in charge while you get a little me time. But as you’re walking out of the house it hits you “what if something happens and I’m not there? Do they know where the WubbaNub is? I can’t go, this is silly”. It’s the voice in the back of your head that becomes a full-blown panic and suddenly you’re back in the nursery like a scene out of Terms of Endearment. It’s natural to feel nervous, and the best way to counter that nervousness is by creating a plan.
Maybe for your first trip away from home don’t jet off to Havana at a moment’s notice. Instead, start small with a trip to the grocery store or going to see a movie. If you’re lucky enough to have grandparents nearby that can be a great resource in terms of childcare that doesn’t stress you out. In lieu of that, ask a friend or trusted neighbor – knowing that someone close to you is the one looking after your baby can help ease a lot of stress when venturing out. You can build on the momentum for longer breaks away from home and maybe even find a recommended babysitter who can help out once or twice a week.
COVER YOUR BASES
Make a list of all of the things you think might worry you when away from home. Start with simple things like where you keep the formula or milk, where to find extra diapers just in case and any emergency contacts. If you’re going away overnight write out the schedule you normally have your infant on, your sleep training plan, allergies, likes, and dislikes. This list this is for your childcare provider
Now make a list that is just for you. What are your concerns about being away for the first time? Or for the first time overnight? Write out everything that is worrying you and sit with those thoughts for a bit. Ask yourself why this is making you nervous and if there is a way to combat that nervousness before you leave the house. Or if perhaps this is something to be mindful of when you’re out and start to feel pangs of fear. Identifying these concerns and remembering that it’s normal to be anxious won’t prevent you from it, but it will help you manage the anxiety when it comes.
MAKE SOME GROUND RULES
This can be hard to stick to, but try it as best you can. Before you go out, have a conversation with yourself or between you and your partner about how much checking in is allowed. On your first trip, you may need a call every hour to offer you a little relief, or maybe just a text. Set up those expectations with your childcare provider so that they know to expect to hear from you at certain times. It’s perfectly okay to tell someone, who is watching your baby, that you’re a bit anxious and will likely need to check in a bit more than they may be used to. Once you get more comfortable out of the house the number of check-ins will likely decrease, but for now, set some ground rules for yourself.
AVOID TAKING A GUILT TRIP
For some new parents, a few hours away is easy to do while for others it can feel excruciating. Neither of these mindsets is wrong. People are wired differently and therefore approach the same experiences with different needs. It is important for your health, and therefore your families health that you have some time to yourself or with your partner that is not entirely baby focused.
If out with your partner, try to avoid making the conversation all about your expanding family. Carve out time to really be engaged with one another and make the time count. That might mean getting a hotel nearby so that you can have a night of romance or, even more likely, uninterrupted sleep. Feeling anxious about how best to manage this new part of your life is completely natural, but don’t let it keep you from creating the space you need to breathe and focus on yourself.