Finding connections with other new parents is one of the most exciting parts of entering the parenthood journey for the first time. A community to share your ‘ups and downs’ with, share advice, and laugh at some of the situations you find yourselves in along the way.
The reality for many of today’s budding parents, however, is that life looks very different in a world of restrictions and lockdowns. Suddenly, the expected flow of visitors is limited, appointments with maternal health nurses are via telehealth, and parent groups are likely virtual (or in many cases non-existent), rather than all-important face-to-face interactions.
For Melbourne-based couple, Melissa and Minal, welcoming their gorgeous bundle of joy, Eden, in June of this year came with a high-level of excitement, both packed to the brim with love and nervous anticipation as they started their parenthood journey in the middle of Melbourne’s COVID lockdowns. “The initial thought of what mum-life might be like, with long lunches and brunches with friends with kids, is far from what has occurred during this year’s restrictions,” Melissa explains, as she reflects on her first few months of motherhood.
“No longer can your parents provide the ‘village support systems’ like they once could through long-standing visits, helping with the laundry and home cooking,” says Melissa. “I was fortunate; I had one face-to-face Mother’s Group meeting where I was able to meet fellow parents and bubs, establish a WhatsApp group, and set some small foundations for friendship.” From here, with the remaining community sessions held online, Melissa found meeting up with the mums within her 5km for walks, helped her continue to form those friendships and get some face-to-face experiences.
In addition to the virtual Mother’s Group, Melissa was able to partake in a handful of alternative activities centred around sharing in new experiences with Eden. “I was gifted two sessions at a Melbourne baby spa, which ensured some outside interaction for myself and Eden. We both really enjoyed these sessions, so much so that I continued to take Eden over the following months to break up our week and enjoy bonding time outside of our home,” says Melissa.
Determined to build up confidence as a new mum in lockdown, Melissa set herself one goal every day to complete. It might have been as small as heading to the grocery shop the following day for fruit or butter, or as big as an extra-long walk if Eden remained happy in the pram. “As the primary carer for Eden, it’s rewarding to achieve a small goal each day. Those extra-long walks break up our day, and build my confidence through accomplishing new things,” says Melissa.
Welcoming an unexpected lockdown benefit of a slower, more simple life, Melissa, Minal and Eden have found a silver-lining with Minal working from home. “Having Minal working from home has been beneficial for all of us. In the mornings and on lunch breaks, he gets to spend quality time with Eden, strengthening their bond and building Minal’s confidence as a dad. It also gives me some welcomed time to have a stress-free shower, or quickly put together a meal, sans baby in my arms,” says Melissa.
Even though it was not the experience they pictured, and as with most newborn periods where babies are learning about their new environment and parents are getting used to their new roles, there have been ups and downs; yet Melissa and Minal are a true testament to focusing on what they can control, while finding the bright-side wherever they can.