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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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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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