Prioritizing Our Priorities

Parents involved in the summer infant class through Hopkins ECFE have enjoyed gathering weekly to talk about all the changes, challenges and joys that babies bring to our life.  The staff at Harley Hopkins Family Center has greatly enjoyed seeing families continue to walk through the halls during these summer months.  The programming has allowed new parents to meet, support and laugh with each other about the all the “new” that comes along with a new baby.

One of the conversations our families had was about finding ways to simplify and prioritize over the first year of baby’s life.  Our conversation was informed by some of the insights of family therapist, educator and researcher Dr. Bill Doherty’s work.  Much of the ideas that parents came up with were based on the simple and important actions they take on a weekly or daily basis to maintain their family as a priority.  One of the ways to do this is to be sure that other important priorities are met: self, partner, household and community.

Read through some of the tips and hints that our summer families created.  Incorporate one or two of the ideas into your own routine, and see how re-focusing on priorities tends to re-focus our life.

Tips for Maintaining Our Priorities During This First Year:

Prioritize Self

  • This is not selfish, it is necessary to be at your best with your baby
  • Find a way to fit in exercise—even a 10-20 minute walk can be rejuvenating
  • Equalize “time-off” with partner.  If one person gets a few hours of free time, the other person should get equal time
  • If it is energizing for you, find ways to get outside of your house on a daily basis. This can happen with or without baby, as getting out of the house tends to fight that feeling of cabin fever
  • Take the time to clarify with your partner or support group what the natural routine of the day seems to be, what is most comfortable, and how to work together to keep that routine
  • You can’t be everything to everybody, and you can’t be anything to anybody if you are totally stressed. Take care of yourself.

Prioritize Time With Partner

  • Eat a meal together as often as possible. It doesn’t have to be dinner, it could be breakfast if that works better
  • Incorporate a “date” night, if possible
  • Spend 15 minutes a day talking with your partner eye-to-eye. Try to focus on subjects other than baby. (This is very hard to do in the fist year)
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Remember, this is a partnership, work with each other

Prioritize Family

  • Look for community events to go to with your family.  This reinforces your family unit, as well as your place in the community.  Community events are often free or low cost
  • Maintain a routine during your day and week, as best you can.  These routines develop as the months go by and patterns become more clear with baby as well as family. Keep routines simple.
  • Create rituals that your family can share throughout the months and years.  Ex: Sunday morning is waffle morning, or Saturday afternoons are walks in the nature center.
  • Be intentional about what you say “yes” to. Often saying “no” to something else means saying “yes” to your family
  • Try to go at your child’s pace when you can. It is a lot slower, but that gives you time to connect over the littlest details of life.

Prioritize Household

  • Relax your expectations of yourself. Be ok with what you can get done in a day
  • Schedule necessary errands for the time of day when baby has the most energy for them. Stop errands when baby becomes overtired.
  • Find ways to exercise during your errands, bike or walk to stores when you can.
  • Take 10 minutes before bed to make a list outlining the next day’s events in priority order. Understand and accept that you won’t get to everything on your list. Set up what you can to ensure a smoother morning (make lunches or set out clothes or etc).
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier or go to bed 15 minutes later, and use that time to get a flurry of little chores done

Prioritize Community

  • Help others in your community in a way that is meaningful to you. It doesn’t have to be a large scale project—making dinner for a family with a new baby is a great service!
  • Attend community events around your neighborhood. These events are great ways to build connections.
  • ATTEND ECFE!!!!!

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