It takes a village to raise a child. We’ve all heard the old saying, and it exists for a pretty good reason. Parenting is hard, and we all need some help from time to time, especially in those early days.
If you’re expecting and live far away from all your family members and in-laws, you’re probably (and rightfully) nervous about how you’ll make it work. But while parenting away from your family is tough, it’s not impossible! Here are a few tips to help make the new mom thing feel manageable.
Stagger family visits
Your parents, siblings, and in-laws will likely want to be there for your baby’s birth, which is amazing! But let’s be honest: It can also be slightly overwhelming to have all those people around for your baby’s earliest days. (And when they all leave, you may be even more overwhelmed to lose all that support.) Instead, ask your family members to stagger their visits so you have maximum coverage. You may even want to create a digital calendar and encourage them to enter the dates they plan to visit so you can ensure there’s no overlap. That way, you won’t have to entertain too many people at one time and you’ll have helping hands when you really need them.
Set up regular Skype or Facetime dates
One of the (other) tough things about raising your kids far from family is the fear that they may not bond as well. Keep grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins actively involved in your child’s life by scheduling regular digital dates. Your baby will likely feel more connected to those people if he or she regularly sees their faces and hears their voices, and—bonus!—this doesn’t count as off-limits screen time for little ones. The other benefit? Seeing friendly, familiar faces on a regular basis may help you feel reassured and more connected to the outside world.
Don’t be afraid to get help
You don’t have to do it all. If it’s in your budget, you may want to outsource some of your at-home responsibilities. A part-time nanny could save you your sanity, a visit from a cleaning service could make the world of a difference, and a local student who can run a few errands for you could help you maintain order. Whatever the case may be, you shouldn’t feel bad getting some outside help. And yes, this applies to stay-at-home moms as well!
Lean on your friends
Don’t be afraid to request some help from them! That might mean asking someone to come by and hold your baby while you nap, drop off diapers, or even just visit for some adult conversation. The bottom line? They won’t know you need help unless you ask for it. While you shouldn’t feel bad asking your friends to pitch in, it’s natural to worry about how they’ll take your requests. But remember this: Your friends will likely want to log some time with your baby. And if you have a box of pizza or glass of wine waiting for them when they come over to help? Well, that never hurts.
Consider going to them
Maternity leave can be crazy (and short!), so planning a trip during that time might seem impossible, but it could work in your favor. If you’re comfortable traveling with your baby, you may want to take him or her to visit family members towards the end of your maternity leave (but only if your pediatrician is ok with it!) for a much-needed change of scenery. You’ll also get the chance to be around people who can help you with feedings, diaper changes, and bath time.
Don’t be afraid to get out when you have visitors
If your mother-in-law comes to town to help with the baby, don’t worry too much about leaving her to run a few errands or head out for a date night. Your family members are there to make your life easier, and chances are they don’t expect you to entertain them around the clock just because they’re in your home. Believe it or not, they may even prefer that alone time with your baby. Access to a reliable babysitter is one of the biggest challenges parents who don’t live near family face. When you have it, use it!
What are your top tips for raising kids with local family support? We want to hear them!