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6 Vital Lessons to Learn Before Becoming a Parent

6 Vital Lessons to Learn Before Becoming a Parent

There are, ooh, about a billion things you need to know before you become a parent. You need to know things about baby care, about diapers, breastfeeding and colic. This is not a list of those things.

These are the 6 life lessons to learn before you decide to produce offspring. They’ll all benefit you as a parent, but they’ll make you a better human, too.

1. Control is an Illusion

You might like to think you and your partner will be the ideal parents: wise, firm, yet gentle. That assumes you get a choice in what’s going on! Before you have children, come to terms with the fact that you can’t control them. You can’t decide when they’ll be born, when they’ll poop, or when they’ll ask for their first motorcycle. (My daughter was 2. Your mileage may vary.)

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The zen of parenting comes from acceptance. There will be mess. There will be tantrums. There will be accidents and tears. There will also be moments of bliss and a lifetime of pride in your offspring. Let go and enjoy them, because nothing else is more important for your family.

2. Memories Matter

Before becoming a parent, your life’s full of events you want to remember. Deep conversations, fun days out, romantic nights in and those moments when you feel on top of the world. Start creating a support system for those happy memories to stick with you by keeping scrapbooks, photo albums, or journals of your favourite moments. Take the time now to create even more good memories with your friends and your partner before you start a family.

Once you’ve got kids, you’ll sometimes feel so scattered you need a list of instructions just to get out of bed and make breakfast. If you keep records of what needs doing, as well as of what you’ve done, that’ll make life a lot easier on those days too.

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lessons before becoming a parent

    3. Get Over Your Fantasies

    Being a parent is a very long term commitment. Once you’ve started, you can never stop. So let’s make sure you’re living in the real world when you decide to go ahead and make babies! There are some popular fantasies about parenthood that, frankly, will bite you in the rear end if you fall into their trap. The most dangerous are:

    • “Becoming a parent is a fresh start.” Nope, it just takes the life you already have and puts a baby into it. Any fresh starts are entirely your own responsibility.
    • “Becoming a parent is my legacy.” Nope, being you is your legacy. Being a parent simply means you’ve added another person to the world. What they do next is your child’s legacy, and they may not want to build on yours, so don’t pin your hopes on feeling fulfilled in life just because you’ve got kids.

    4. Sleep is Sacred

    Babies feed every 2 to 3 hours. All day, all night. Your opportunity for sleep once you’re a parent will be limited, possibly for years, so if you’ve got any existing sleep problems, work on them now while you still can.

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    Once your baby’s born, people will suggest that you “sleep when the baby sleeps”. They say this because they don’t realise (or have forgotten) that when the baby sleeps is the only time you get all day to do anything else. For future reference, there’s only one sane response to this: ask them if they’d mind keeping an eye on the baby for you while you take a bath, grab something to eat and do all the other stuff you need to do before you can sleep.

    5. Nothing is Normal

    Especially after you have kids. Beforehand, you might worry about things like this:

    • “Is our relationship normal?”
    • “Am I normal?”
    • “Do I want to be normal?”

    But trust me, once you’ve got a tiny human to take care of and a thousand different people telling you to do that in different ways, you’ll be thinking more like this:

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    • “Is crawling backwards normal at this age?”
    • “Is worrying about developmental milestones normal?”
    • “Oh dear, is eating spiders normal?”

    Get your head straight. Life isn’t meant to be normal, and neither are people. Instead, ask yourself, “Am I happy with this?” If you are, then your job done.

    6. Do Less, Be More

    Parents aren’t meant to be perfect. They’re meant to be present. Every time you stress over the little problems of parenthood like laundry or mealtimes, you deprive yourself of a chance to be fully present in the moment with your child.

    Relax your standards, even just a little, and your life will be richer for it. Most parents set themselves impossibly high expectations and waste time worrying about their perceived failure. You know better, so enjoy every moment and do the laundry later!

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    How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

    How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

    Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

    But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

    Sight – Visual Stimulation

    The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

    1. Maximize your exposure to light.

    Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

    Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

    2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

    Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

    Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

    Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

    3. Take note of your environment.

    Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

    By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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    Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

    What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

    4. Engage in conversation.

    Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

    Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

    Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

    Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

    5. Listen to upbeat music.

    Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

    Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

    Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

    If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

    6. Work your nose.

    Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

    If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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    Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

    Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

    If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

    7. Have a good breakfast.

    Start off with the most important meal of the day.

    Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

    Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

    Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

    20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

    8. Drink lots of water.

    Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

    So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

    How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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    Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

    3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

    9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

    Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

    Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

    Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

    25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

    Touch – Tactile Stimulation

    Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

    10. Splash cold water on your face.

    Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

    This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

    5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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    11. Use acupressure.

    Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

    Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

    12. Get moving.

    Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

    And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

    You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

    Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

    Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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