Having a good relationship with your child from their very first days is one of the most important things both for the child and the parent. However, a lot of parents have an issue bonding with their child, especially if the circumstances aren’t ideal and they are under stress. But there are still ways you can bond with your baby, and it will do both of you so much good without you even noticing you’re doing something differently than before.
Before we get to all the ways you need to be there for your child, let’s talk about being there for yourself. If you are tired, cranky, on your last nerves, haven’t showered in a week and tripping on the doorsteps, you’re not nearly as good for your child as you would be if you were energized, clean and ready to fully commit to them. This can be difficult for parents that are raising the child without the help of grandparents, partners or other people, but it’s crucial to find some time to take care of yourself. Have a neighbor come over and watch them for a few hours while you get some rest or take a shower. Have friends over, drink coffee and chat, go for walks in the park. Do whatever you need to do to be the best parent you can be to that child.
Before the baby can see, hear and understand you, it can feel and smell you. This is the very first way you make contact, and it’s crucial that both of you are enjoying that time together. And it can be exhausting and frightening to be with your child all the time, while you have a million other things on your mind and your arms are asleep from holding them for so long. However, the touch between you and the baby will not only soothe the baby and reassure them you’re there, but it will greatly help mothers dealing with postpartum depression. If you have things to do – grab a baby carrier and have your child with you with your hands free to do anything else that is needed. Lie down on the couch and put your baby on your chest so you can rest your arms, or just lay next to each other on a big bed and cuddle. Any touch will be very much appreciated.
Children need patterns and a routine to structure their day and know what to expect. These don’t have to be grand gestures, but small things that you both get used to, like reading before bedtime. It’s important that they are activities that you do together and that they are mild enough that you can do them no matter how tired or sick you are. Reading is a great example, because you’re not only teaching your child to love reading, but it’s a very calming activity, perfect for dozing off to sleep once you’re all done. These rituals where you spend time together means that even on the busiest days when you didn’t have a lot of time to play and cuddle, you’re still getting some quality time together.
A lot of parents go online to look up exactly at what age their children should start to walk, speak, when should they enroll them in second language classes, “math for toddlers” and other activities, but the truth is that through these actions you’re only putting more stress on them and on yourself. They will walk when they have somewhere to go, they will talk when they have something to say and they will show and explore their interests through games and fun times. Stop worrying whether your child is the best in their group, and certainly never put that pressure on them, because they are still young and exploring and they have all the time in the world to change their interests and explore possibilities. Your child isn’t perfect, won’t always behave, and won’t always be a “bundle of joy”, but you will walk through the good and the bad times together, you will cry together and learn together and that’s the joy of parenting, so stop stressing and start enjoying the ride.
No parent is ever perfect, but in a few decades, your child won’t remember whether the apartment was messy and if you sang the right lullaby every night, and they sure as hell won’t care if their onesies were a color that matches their eyes – but they will remember that you were always there for them, that you taught them the most important things in life and that they can always come to you. The bonds you form when they are young are the bonds that will last a lifetime – although be prepared from some strains during puberty!