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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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    Sophie Lizard

    A writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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