A new year is an opportunity to look back and reflect as we look forward to what’s next. We’ve come up with 5 New Year’s resolutions for NICU families to think about adopting in 2022. What New Year’s resolutions do you have for your family?
1. Stay healthy
Once you’ve left the hospital, your goal is to make sure your NICU baby stays healthy, especially during cold, flu and RSV season. Here are a few tips to help you keep germs and illness out of your home.
- Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands.
- Create a germ-free zone. Download this handy printable to hang on your front door or email to friends and family.
- Avoid sick family and friends. Many families go into isolation during RSV season, but family and friends who are ill or who have recently been ill should be avoided at any time of year.
Nothing makes a NICU parent happier than learning their baby has gained a little weight! And once home, your NICU grad will continue to grow with the good nutrition and gentle love and care she receives from you.
3. Take care of yourself, so you can take care of your baby
We’ve all heard the term “put on your own oxygen mask first.” And it’s true. You cannot give your baby the love and care she needs until you have given that same love and care to yourself. Whether you are still in the NICU or you are at home with your family, making sure your basic needs are taken care of is essential.
- Are you getting adequate rest?
- Are you getting enough water and nutritious foods?
- Are you getting any exercise or fresh air?
- Are you maintaining a connection to the outside world?
These tips for caring for your mental health are relevant to parents in the NICU and parents at home. Read Caring for Your Mental Health in the NICU.
4. Don’t play the comparison game
As a NICU parent, you want to avoid comparing your situation to anyone else’s, or to the experience you thought you’d have. Maybe you feel guilty that your NICU stay wasn’t as long and arduous as a fellow parent’s. Maybe you feel resentment that you didn’t get to experience a typical pregnancy and birth.
These feelings are normal and valid, and it’s okay to feel them! But it’s important not to allow comparisons to hinder your healing. Your experience is unique to you.
5. Be present
It’s so easy to reflect on the past and worry about what’s to come. It’s often helpful to look back on the past and let it shape your future, but as we move into this new year, let’s also vow to be present with what is.
- Diminish distractions. Figure out what pulls your attention from being present (social media, Netflix, work, texting) and block out specific time for those activities.
- Celebrate the small things that are happening right now: an ounce gained, a milestone achieved, a happy moment.
- Allow yourself to feel.
- Reflect on your day. Keep a journal of the daily happenings, no matter how mundane. Even if you don’t go back and read it, daily journaling helps you relieve stress and allows you to reflect in the moment.
Take what you wish from these New Year’s resolutions for NICU families as you think about what you want your year to look like. Each day is a new opportunity to begin again and work towards your goals for a happy, healthy family. Happy New Year to you and yours!
What resolutions are you setting for 2022?
For support in the NICU and beyond, download the Hand to Hold app and join our community, a safe and inviting environment to connect with Hand to Hold Family Support Specialists and other NICU parents to find support whenever and wherever you need it. Learn more.