Assalamu’alaikum & Marhaba!
I know how overwhelming it can feel when you are preparing to welcome a little human into your life. Here are some of my tips for new parents. I will try to do more detailed posts specific for dads and moms each, Insha’Allah (God Willing).
#1 – Watch this video!
Shaikh Yaser Birjas is one of my favorite shuyookh of our time, Masha’Allah. His advice on parenting and family matters are some of the best out there. This video, The Sunnah of Being Born, is a lecture I send to all of my friends once I know they are expecting! Do not forget to have your spouse watch it, too.
#2 – Spend Time Together
The days of being just you two are numbered. Get in as much time as you can. I thought “babymoons” sounded so silly when I first heard of the trend, but why not! Sneaking in a romantic getaway before the biggest change of your lives and marriage does not sound like a bad idea at all. Take your pregnancy walks with your husband. Relax, talk, and have fun together. You will not get this time back, especially during the first few years, so enjoy one another and strengthen your marital bonds.
#3 – Take a Parenting Class
I was shocked when my husband simply said yes when I asked him to take a parenting class with me without any convincing and cajoling. It may have felt a little silly at times, but it saved me the trouble from explaining everything. I am sure your spouse has a lot of questions, this is the best way to prepare them without feeling like you are lecturing all the time.
#4 – Find Islamic Parenting Resources
There are many opportunities to take Islamic Parenting classes, but if there isn’t one going on nearby, find other resources. One of my favorite books listed first in this article of “Best Muslim Parenting Books” is Our Precious Sprouts by Muhammad al-Jibaly gifted to me by a thoughtful friend. I have not read the other books recommended, but I am adding them to my reading list now.
#5 – Support System
I think it is great if you can even talk to your local shaikh, Imam, or knowledgeable person about becoming parents. Maybe you can request private sessions or a small halaqah for expecting couples in your community. There is no doubt in my mind it would make a world of a difference in how you and your husband view pregnancy, childbirth, infancy, and parenting. The halaqahs can continue on until after you have children and be a form of a support group. For non-Muslims, I would recommend the same – having a group of new parents to talk to and share advice with can make the many challenges feel a little easier.
I think many couples are aware that their life will change, but do not actually understand how much. Usually, we are prepared for the technical aspects of becoming parents, but not so much the emotional changes. I cannot think of one of my friends that did not share similar complaints about their spouses failing to understand what they are going through. As mothers we feel the sacrifices and challenges we are facing outweigh our husband’s. It does not mean they are not feeling something, too. They just probably will not be as open to discuss it.
#5 – Learn the Basics
Get a good book such as the super popular, The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two by William Sears. Another for breastfeeding. Lastly, download the app and sign up for the Baby Center emails. You are all set to go. You really do not need to read 100 books and articles overwhelming yourself. I did it for you!
Keep in mind, you do not need to read the books from start to finish in one go. Read a few chapters as you reach the different milestones to keep yourself informed. The Baby Center app is one of the best things. They deliver short and easy to digest information about your stage of pregnancy or your child’s age and development after they are born. If you want to learn more, you just read the articles relative to your concerns. You do not need to know every little detail, but enough so you are not totally clueless.
#6 – Exercise and Eat Well
As a family, make it a point to eat well balanced meals. Stay away from processed foods as much as you can in your cooking and snacking. When you feel the need to run out and buy some junk food, do it! Once in awhile will not kill you. It is just a good habit to get into before you have kids. Processed foods are not just dangerous because of obesity, but research continues to show the negative affects on children’s overall development. Many parents do not know that the number one advice given to parents with children who suffer from ADD/ADHD is to change their diet and get them off of processed foods. Getting into the habit of eating well and exercising now will mean your children share your healthy habits later.
#7 – Visit Friends and Family
Pregnancy can take all the energy out of you. I have to admit when I made the effort to see my friends and family, I never regretted it. The laughs and quality time are some of my best memories. I even found the stories my aunts and uncles shared about their journey as parents insightful. One of the most meaningful moments was when my mom shared her wishes and hopes, regrets, and moments of pride as a mom. She never opened up to me in that way before, and the advice she gave me I will never forget.
#8 – Take Time for Yourself
Give yourself a break to paint, write, read, or whatever your favorite hobbies are. Indulge in a spa day or a relaxing massage once a month. As hard as it will be once the baby comes along, try to find ways to make time for yourself every now and then. It may be a few weeks or months after, but having something for yourself is fundamental to stay mentally healthy (sane) and happy.
#9 – Consistency in Your Deen
After becoming a mom, my ibadah (worship) took the hardest hit. My salah (prayer) was shorter, distracted, and rushed. Fajr (the dawn prayer) was tougher because of the number of times I was waking up to nurse and change diapers. I had to really remind myself that the time and effort we were spending on keeping our little one happy was considered ibadah, too.
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.” (Ibn Majah, 4240)
Do small but consistent deeds to help keep your Iman (faith) on track. There are some things you can easily do with baby, such as your morning and evening adhkaar. Recite Qur’an while putting them to sleep or dhikr while putting them to sleep.
#10 – Plan and Ask for Help
Plan the last few weeks (when pregnancy is toughest), the childbirth, and the first few months after. Sit down together and discuss ways your husband, parents, family, and friends can help. It is especially important to talk to your spouse about your expectations from him. One lesson I learned was that the nurturing and care mothers instinctually possess does not come as naturally to men. They love their children with all their hearts, but simple responses such as, “pick the baby up when they cry” does not flash in front of their eyes like it does for us. Be specific and do not be afraid to ask for help. You will need all that you can get.
Hope these tips help! I will post my tips for new parents (after the baby ar soon, Insha’Allah!