Normally, I try to advocate for pursuing avenues of wellness that tend to be free or low cost. We can usually meet most of our needs without having to spend a lot of money, just by putting some thought into it and maybe doing a little planning. But sometimes being creative, proactive, and resourceful can only get us so far. Sometimes it’s beneficial to call in reinforcements.
One of the things that many new parents struggle with is the financial costs of a new baby, especially alongside the economic constraints of maternity and/or paternity leave. It feels hard to justify additional expenses at a time when the financial stability of our families is somewhat more precarious. In reality, it’s probably wise to be somewhat more frugal at this stage but budgeting for a little extra support during the postpartum period can make a big difference.
Once upon a time, our communities were smaller, our families were usually closer, and our neighborhoods were more connected. These were the villages that people talk about when they say it takes a village to raise a child. There were more layers of support for new families in those early weeks and months. Nowadays, many new parents are left to fend for themselves at a time in their lives when they could most benefit from the support, guidance, and encouragement of those around them.
Parents are tired and busy people. Amid a backdrop of chaos, parents often become overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted. There is no denying that this tends to be a transition that is extremely hard on people and their relationships. The reality is that most relationships take a big nosedive in these early years. This is perhaps not surprising; in a climate of increasing stress, there is less time for fun, appreciation, and intimacy, and consequently, marital satisfaction tends to decline.
When I encourage people to think about splurging on extra support, it’s not because I don’t think they can manage, it’s often because there’s a difference between just managing and making it through this time in our lives with our relationships and our sanity intact. Parents will hesitate to spend money on some house cleaning, baby sitting, dog-walking, postpartum doulas, counselling/coaching, meal delivery, or grocery delivery because they’re not working and it feels superfluous. But we need to ask ourselves how much we are willing to push ourselves and our relationships before we ask for help. Are those things superfluous too? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very supportive of ‘sucking it up’ in many aspects of life. After all, I think we learn a lot about ourselves when we are pushed to overcome certain difficulties. But sometimes, this is our pride talking and we need to examine whether we are making the best decision for our families.
The price of your wellness needs to be considered in this equation. What is it worth to you to feel a sense of peace in your day? to be able to share some quiet time with your spouse instead of mopping the floors? to be present with your child instead of dealing with your to-do list?
When we remove some of the complications and stress by recruiting support, we:
- create more opportunities for bonding time with baby
- prioritize rest and recovery
- reduce the kinds of stressors that can worsen postpartum depression and/or anxiety
- improve the likelihood of you enjoying this time in your life
- lessen the strain on your relationship
- enhance the overall wellness of you and your family
In the best case scenario, you have a huge support system with myriad friends and family to assist you during those early weeks as a growing family. That may or may not be a possibility for you but regardless, it may be helpful to consider setting some money aside to spend on extra help along the way. Because sometimes that can make all the difference in the world.