Raising a child may be the most natural thing in the world, but that doesn't mean it always comes easy. If you're not fidgeting with a tangle of straps, snaps, and five-point harnesses, you're trying to figure out feeding, tummy time, and sleep schedules. Is it any wonder new moms and dads often feel out of their element?
Thankfully, parenting does get easier with time and practice, which is why we created our 30-Day Fearless Parenting Challenge. It offers simple things you can do every day to help boost your confidence and find your groove as a parent.
Ready to take the challenge? Follow the tips below, and be sure to share your success stories and photos along the way using the hashtag #FearlessParenting!
1. Create a parenting mantra. Sometimes, parenthood feels like a wicked game of Mad Libs. The baby won't stop crying/pooping/eating things off the floor, and you'd give anything to be able to sleep/drink coffee while it's still hot/binge-watch This Is Us uninterrupted. Power through the tough moments by coming up with a mood-boosting mantra, like "You've got this" or "This too will pass." Repeat until you feel calm, centered, and confident.
2. Call your mom. Or your cousin, or your best friend who's also a parent. Ask them to dish on what those first few months with baby were really like. They probably felt just as overwhelmed and terrified as you and—bonus—may have some good advice to share.
3. Bone up on BPA and phthalates. You may be on top of well visits and developmental milestones, but are you as in the know about what's in your baby's toys, bottles, and bubble bath? Chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates can affect reproductive development and health and are found in many everyday items like plastic toys, raincoats, and even some soaps and lotions. Yikes! Read up on these and other harmful chemicals and learn what to look for on packaging and labels. And when it comes to your baby's products, choose a fragrance, dye, and paraben-free brand. (One we like: Bambo Nature.)
4. Take a break from social media. Put down the pins, give your filters a break, and leave FOMO for another day. Today, unplug from social media so you can be present for all the amazing, beautiful things happening around you in IRL.
5. Go to bed early tonight. There's a reason why so many studies are devoted to sleep deprivation: It wreaks havoc on the body, mind, and mood, which may explain why you wept during last week's 3 a.m. diaper change. This evening, swap out your Netflix session for an early bedtime—the extra zzz's will help you keep tomorrow's challenges in perspective.
6. Set a fitness goal for yourself and plan to stick to it for the rest of this challenge. Whether it's holding a plank for one minute or making it to the gym once a week, choose a fitness goal that's reasonable, attainable, and won't be derailed should the whole house come down with a cold. Start slowly and be patient with yourself—pregnancy and childbirth can affect joints and muscles. And if your old workouts are no longer cutting it, explore a fun new class or a different type of exercise.
7. Banish negative self-talk all day today. Not making as much milk as you were last week? Skipped a shower (again)? Go easy on yourself—parenthood is tough! Be mindful of how you think and talk about yourself, and replace negativity or harsh criticism with words of encouragement.
8. Wear something you normally save for special occasions. You know that killer red lipstick you normally wear on date night? Swipe some across your lips today. And while you're at it, slip into the "good" underwear that makes you feel sexy. Today, you deserve to feel unstoppable.
9. Celebrate a small victory by treating yourself. You nailed the swaddle last night—congratulations! Today, splurge on a once-in-a-blue-moon treat (hey there, Coke Slurpee). After all, small wins are worth celebrating, too.
10. Write down all of your baby-related questions. A funny thing happens when you're up in the middle of the night taking care of a baby: A million questions start running through your mind. Jot them down—even the ones that seem silly or obvious—and vow to ask your pediatrician all of them at your baby's next well visit.
11. Schedule YOUR annual physical. Self-care is easy to put on the back burner when you're juggling demands from work and family, but your health is too important to neglect. Today, make a point to call your health care providers and schedule your annual physical, pap smear, and dental check-up. Your body—and your family—will thank you.
12. Have a makeout session with your partner. Fun fact: Nurturing your relationship with your partner is an important part of raising a child. Plus, it's fun! After you put baby down to sleep this evening, spend some quality time connecting with your SO.
13. Get naked and stand in front of the mirror. Allow yourself look at your body in a new light today. Instead of focusing on perceived flaws or obsessing over stubborn baby weight, admire how strong and capable your body is.
14. Have a playdate with your baby. Schedule some time with your child's favorite playmate: you! Babies don't need grand gestures or exotic adventures to have fun. Something as simple as laying a blanket down on the grass and reading to them from your favorite book is all it takes for them to have a good time.
15. Book a standing date with yourself. Just because you're a parent doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality solo time. To help ensure it happens, block off some "me time" every week or two, and promise yourself you'll take advantage of it. Use the time to reconenct with something you loved—be it reading or rock climbing—before you became a mom.
16. Take a few deep breaths. When your baby is in the throes of her third sobfest of the morning and you're considering making a run for the hills, step into a quiet room and breathe. Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly out of your mouth—you'll feel calmer and more in control almost instantly.
17. Tune out the haters. When you're a new parent, everyone from your mother-in-law to your mail carrier feels comfortable commenting on your parenting style. Do yourself a favor and ignore anything not-so-nice (like how you're approaching sleep training all wrong).
18. When you note another parent's success today, acknowledge it without drawing a comparison. If the compliments you give regularly come with a side of self-criticism, it's time for a change of mindset. Today, allow yourself to simply acknowledge a new-parent friend's accomplishment without passing judgment on yourself.
19. Explore a new part of town. Check out a new boutique on the other end of town, try a different route home, or take baby on a stroll in a new park. The change of scenery will recharge both of you.
20. Hire a babysitter. Even the most devoted parent in the world needs a break. Ask friends and family to recommend sitters they love, and meet with candidates until you find one or two who mesh well with you and your family.
21. Discover a new way to work out with baby. You don't have to hit the gym to stay fit—there are plenty of opportunities to squeeze in some exercise with a baby in tow: Leave the car in the driveway and walk to the next playdate. Sneak in lunges or push-ups during baby's tummy time. Do a quick mommy-baby exercise video. The possibilities are endless!
23. Try something slightly outside of your comfort zone. A powerful way to boost confidence is to conquer something new. But no need to scale a mountain or train for a marathon (unless you want to, of course). Even small things—like taking a new exercise class or trying an exotic cuisine—can give you a charge.
24. Make a gratitude list. Whether it's how your partner unloaded the dishwasher this morning or you caught every green light on the way to work, take note of whatever you're appreciative of today. Counting your blessings isn't just a feel-good exercise—it has far-reaching benefits, including improved self esteem.
25. Say yes if someone offers you help today. Part of being a confident parent is knowing your limits. When a friend or family member asks how they can help you out, tell them! They'll get satisfaction from cooking you dinner or watching the baby for a couple of hours, and you'll appreciate the extra assistance.
26. If someone questions you about something today, pretend you know what you're doing. There's some truth to the saying, "Fake it til you make it." Acting confident really can help breed confidence. The next time someone questions your ability to handle a situation—whether on the playground or in the office—let them know you've got it under control. Because you do.
27. Reflect on all that you've accomplished today by writing it all down. Staying focused on the daily grind means losing sight of the big picture. During a quiet time—perhaps while baby is sleeping—think about all the incredible things you've done just today. Chances are, it's a pretty impressive list.
28. Create a realistic to-do list for the day. Setting realistic expectations for yourself can do wonders for building up confidence. Exhibit A: your to-do list. Sure, it would be nice to mop the floor and clean out the garage, but today, winnow down your chores to the ones you know you can comfortably tackle today.
29. Get moving with other new parents. Explore postnatal fitness classes in your area, such as a stroller jogging group or new-parent bootcamp class. Exercising with a group doesn't just build camaraderie, it also helps motivate you to stick with the regimen. Win-win!
30. Laugh. Giving yourself the giggles is a great way to boost your mood. Think of a funny story that makes you smile, call that friend who always knows how to crack you up, or play a silly game of peek-a-boo and enjoy major belly laughs with your baby.