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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 June 19, 2019

    How to Invest in Yourself: 3 Valuable Ways to Change Your Life

    How to Invest in Yourself: 3 Valuable Ways to Change Your Life

    Investing in yourself may be the most profitable investment you ever make. It yields not only future returns, but often a current pay-off as well.

    The surest way to achieve a better quality life, to be successful, productive, and satisfied is to place a priority on investing in both personal and professional growth. The effort you put into consistently investing in yourself plays a large role in determining the quality of your life now and in the future.

    1. Develop Your Skills

    Improving your skills doesn’t always mean investing in higher education, though that’s surely an option, and perhaps a necessary one depending upon your career field. Investing in your knowledge and skills can take many forms.

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    In addition, expanding your level of knowledge and skill isn’t limited to the business arena and doesn’t necessarily need to be formal. There are many “skill investment” avenues.

    • Advance your education –  extra classes, advanced degrees, relevant certifications, are all valuable investments. Take classes, either in person or online. (Lifehack also offers this Masterclass that helps you to break free from limitations.)
    • Utilize available training – enroll in workshops, attend conferences or participate in webinars.
    • Expand your knowledge – there’s a lot of information available on nearly any subject imaginable. Read books, articles, white papers, anything related to the talent or skill you want to work on.
    • Keep current – stay abreast of the latest trends or advancements. Subscribe to publications, read blogs of experts, and follow the latest news.

    2. Explore Your Creative Side

    There is a fountain of creativity within most of us that has never been tapped or certainly hasn’t been used to its highest potential. We may need to unearth, and hone our individual creativity.

    Creativity, in any form, helps us to grow personally and professionally, to view problems and solutions in different ways and to utilize other parts of our mind that may have been previously untapped. It’s important to keep in mind that creativity has many faces. It’s far broader than being a painter or sculptor; it’s also about trying new things.

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    • Learn a new language –  take a class or use language training software.
    • Try gourmet cooking – enroll in a formal class, by a new cookbook, or ask someone you know who enjoys cooking in a different way.
    • Write something – a book, short stories, poetry, anything.
    • Explore the outside world – try gardening, bird watching, or landscape photography.
    • Enjoy music – play an instrument, learn a new one or join a music group of some kind.
    • Create something tangible – paint, sculpt, make pottery, make jewelry or design your own clothes.

    Choose some form of activity that you have never tried, haven’t practiced in years, or have never explored fully.

    3. Nurture Your Mind and Body

    Nurturing both your mind and body allows you to have more to give now and in the future — more energy, more knowledge, more compassion, more ideas, greater strength, physical and mental endurance.

    Expand your mind. Learning new things and keeping your mind active even in simple ways helps to grow and maintain your mental ability.

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    • Read – anything and everything.
    • Explore culture – attend performances, listen to different style of music, travel, or join an organization or group comprised of people from different backgrounds.
    • Open your mind – engage in conversations with those who disagree with you. Look at an argument and try to make a case for the opposing point of view.
    • Keep your mind active – play word games, (yes, even Words with Friends counts,) board games that include strategy, or try using your brain to perform simple calculations rather than relying on a calculator.

    Care for your body. Your body is like a well-oiled machine. If you care for it in the way that you might maintain an expensive car, it will perform marvelously and last for a very long time. Remember the basics:

    • Give it high quality fuel – meaning to make healthy food choices as often as possible. What you eat does play a large role in your energy and ability to perform. You truly are what you eat.
    • Don’t push it too hard – meaning to rest and relax often, slow down and don’t overload your system. Also, don’t shift gears too quickly; it causes stress and damage to “your machine,” A.K.A. your body.
    • Get regular and necessary maintenance – meaning to go to the doctor when you’re sick – don’t put it off until you totally break down. Better yet, use preventative maintenance; get check-ups, take appropriate vitamins and pay attention to irregular or erratic behavior.
    • Polish the exterior – meaning to take care of the outside too. Many people dismiss this as frivolous and self-indulgent, but it’s not as long as you don’t go overboard. We’re not talking about facelifts and Botox, we’re talking about getting a fabulous haircut, and wearing clothes that make you feel confident and attractive.

    The Bottom Line

    Investing in yourself truly makes a difference in your life, your well-being, and your ability to thrive and perform to the best of your ability. The extent to which you invest in yourself, mind and body, not only shapes the way you interact with the outside world, it often reflects the opinion you have of yourself.

    Your future is in large part determined by your willingness and ability to invest in yourself now.

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    More About Investing in Yourself

    Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

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