Children Now Insider: Creating a Positive Environment for Young Children Starts with Supporting Strong Families

Parents’ Well-Being is Critical to Babies and Toddlers’ Well-Being

By Yasmeen Kamrani
Guest Author, Parent and Early Childhood Business Administrator

September 9, 2019

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As a new mom, I am like all other new parents in saying there is nothing like gazing at your newborn son’s sweet little face, hands, toes as he dozes off in your arms. And, as you sit there with so many feelings of love and awe, you also begin to come to terms with this new existence as a mother, what your daily routine entails now, and all the energy you are tirelessly giving to this tiny being.

Raising a child is hard. Every parent struggles with sleepless nights, isolation from family and friends, and the stress of taking care of a little one. But, for many California parents, raising a child also means worrying about insufficient or non-existent parental leave, trying to find affordable childcare, juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet, and facing the possibility of housing insecurity or homelessness.

As parents, we want the best for our children – we want them to grow up healthy, happy and safe – and that often means doing everything we can to make sure their needs are met, and ignoring our own. While this may seem like the right thing to do, when we don’t take care of ourselves, it impacts our children. Research shows that babies’ mental health is closely related to their parents’ mental health; and parental stress can negatively affect a child’s development.

Taking care of ourselves is not selfish – it is critical to ensuring the well-being of parents, caregivers and their children. And as a community, we must understand that it is just as important to support new parents, as it is to support their new children.

While eliminating stress entirely is neither feasible nor practical, here are some important tips for improving self-care: 

Prioritize healthy eating: Busy days can unintentionally lead to poor eating habits. ‘Grab and go’ foods don’t provide the energy – keeping up with a toddler requires some serious stamina – or nutrition that parents need to stay healthy. Parents, along with friends or family who want to help, can prep snacks like veggies, nuts and dried fruits, and give kids tasks so they can get involved.

Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is the conscious act of paying attention to the present without judgement, and while it may sound daunting, a simple breathing exercise is a first step!

  1. Inhale deeply through your nose into your belly, then exhale fully through your mouth
  2. Breathe in through your nose for five seconds
  3. Hold your breath for five seconds
  4. Breathe out for five seconds
  5. Repeat at least four times, or as many times as you need!

Engage adults in your community: Friends, family members, and members of the community can help by giving moms and dads a break once in a while – help entertain that toddler while dad’s in line at the store, or take baby to the park to give mom a break.

Be present, not perfect: Beating yourself up for not being the perfect parent isn’t necessary. Kids need to learn that making mistakes is part of life, and that it’s okay to fail. Parents can help teach these valuable lessons by modeling this behavior at home, and listening to and comforting their kids when things don’t go their way.

Understand you’re a unique unit: Every child is unique. Therefore, what works for one family may not work for another. Finding a flow takes time as you and your little one are learning together. As long as your intentions and practices are on the right track for your child’s healthy and stable development, know that others’ critiques of your parenting, even when they are coming from close family and friends, aren’t the truth. 

Ask for help: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or failure, but rather one of strength. Parents can’t do it alone, and they shouldn’t have to. By reaching out to neighbors, friends, family members, or other parents, we can share the struggles (and joys) of raising a child, and learn from each other. The saying is true – it takes a village!

In addition to becoming a mom this year, Yasmeen Kamrani is a Business Administrator and Director of three preschools in Alameda, CA where she oversees daily activities and instruction, trains and mentors staff, and spends quality time with the kids and families that attend the schools. She has been passionate about early childhood education for 20 years, and her philosophy has long been that our greatest investment is to enrich children with a stimulating loving environment filled with intention, curiosity, and wonder from they moment they are brought into this world. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with focus in Human Resources & Marketing with a minor in Human Development specializing in Early Childhood Education as well as a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, both from California State University, East Bay.

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