What is the best way to prepare yourself for being a parent.(20 Posts)
I've turned 30 this year, and my thoughts have turned towards getting married and having children. I intend to get married and have kids in the next few years, and have been saving very hard for a house deposit for the last few years to try and get a stable permanent base. I'm curious about what the daily reality of being a parent is like, and what advice you would give to someone to prepare for it. From what I've read and heard it just seems like a permanent unending thankless jobs, but which you nonetheless feel rewarded by.
What advice did you wish someone had told you but no one ever mentioned? What advice would you pass on to someone in my situation? What is the hardest aspect of being a parent, and how to you try to mitigate the harder aspects of it? Are there any books or films that accurately portray being a parent? Being a good father / role model is quite important to me, and advice about how to achieve that would be welcome.
I got a kitten about a year before I got pregnant. She was abandoned at 5 weeks old. I had sleepless nights, got woken up at 5am with screeching, did potty training, was constantly terrified she would get out of the house or get stuck up the curtain pole etc. Didn't leave her alone overnight for 3 months. It was pretty good training for a newborn. It taught me not to be selfish and to put something else first.
My first DD was actually less work than my manic kitten.
Wake up every two hours and try and stay awake for an hour or two whilst sitting still and in silence.
Find someone to poo and pee on you?
Put the kettle on. Make a lovely cuppa, sit down, take that delicious first sip, Get up immediately. Return an hour later to cold mug.
Learn how to cook things from scratch now and don't wait until your baby is 6 months old and all the weaning advice tells you to "just feed him/her normal family but without the salt". Now I considered myself a fairly competent cook until I realised that i relied heavily on jarred sauces and they all contained huge amount of salt.
Sleep as much as you can because you will never have another nights decent sleep again. even if the Dcs don't wake up, YOU will wake up because you think they have called you/got out of bed/haven't made a sound for too long. And lie-ins - pah. They are for wimps.
For me, the hardest part was coming to terms with those feelings that nobody mentions. Chances are, there will be times when you feel like you've made a horrible mistake, when you miss your old life and feel wretchedly jealous of childless couples. Nobody ever told us we would have those feelings, and so for a long time we didn't 'confess' them to each other. Talking about it helped us to get through the rough times. So that would be my advice; try not to have any 'taboo' topics.
Everyone WILL tell you it's amazing and you can't possibly conceive of the love you'll feel for your child, and that's also true. I won't bang on about it because it can't be described, but it's like being dizzyingly, obsessively in love for the first time, only the object of your love loves you back - in fact, you are their whole world. When your baby smiles at you, every smile is like the first smile in the world. I know how wet that sounds Sometimes you'll cry and feel queasy just thinking about them... in a good way.
Some parts will be easier than you expect. Ours has mostly been a good sleeper, and doesn't seem to give a shit about teething. Other parts will be harder - colic broke us and put us back together in a whole new way. Babies are maddeningly unpredictable - all day, every day.
Oh, books -
This will be enough to make some people hate me, but A Life's Work by Rachel Cusk. Also You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman by Judith Newman.
Read We Need to Talk about Kevin. That was how I knew I was ready - even afterwards, I still wanted a baby.
Can anyone else recommend some good blogs for the OP?
I actually wish I gradually got myself used to less sleep before baby arrived. The sleeplessness plus stress made me seriously struggle for awhile. Had I got used to the lack of sleep before the stress arrived it wouldn't have been such a shock to the system!
Set your alarm for the hour, every hour... do this for nine months ... then no alarm for a month, enjoy the sleep.... reset alarm for every 2 hours ... Do this for oh about 6 months.... then no alarm for say 12 months...
then program your alarm to randomly go off once, twice even sometimes 5 times a night for - oh say 6 years
And then no alarm for 12/15 years after which you can set your alarm for anywhere between midnight and three am to fit in with your teenager stumbling through the door
Now who says mum's are obsessed with sleep
You sound terribly earnest and serious about it
If I were you I'd concentrate on having a Lot of Fun. Perhaps too much, like an averstion therapy.
Drink, dance till dawn, go on City Breaks. Drink a bit more. It's not that you can't do these things once you're a parent, they just take a bit more planning, and somehow you are less inclined. Enjoy the ability to spontaneously pleasure-seek without knowing that at 3.25 you will have to do the school run.
Forget about your life before you had a baby. And never ever talk about it.
It's really not worth the pain and heartbreak.
Practice mindfulness to make the most out of sleeplessness. By being 'in the present' you will realise that you begin to resent less getting up in the night.
Seriously, read Sue Gerharts book, 'Why Love Matters' before or while you are pregnant. Its the most startling revelation on why and how you feel those feelings towards your baby and the importance of bonding and attachment.
tabulahrasa - that was very funny.
I had the joy of spending a month with my nephew and niece. Got some practise with nappies and broken nights. My SIL was having a hard time so I was there to help her.
I came home having aged about 5 years and telling Dh that actually I did not want children ever!
I had my first about a year after that.
I dont think anyone ever told me just how monotonous the baby stage. DTs are a delight now they have a personality but really, that first bit is just boring.
The most boring bit is the watching them do sport/drama/music. And having to stay alert and intested looking in case you miss their particular 35 seconds.
And this goes on at least until they leave home. Sometimes longer.
What publication is this for, OP? Sounds like a journo question to me...
::Bad Tee. No cookie::
Definitely set your alarm for every hour. Oh and when it goes off on the hour in the night you need to force yourself to stay awake for half an hour before you can go back to sleep.
Make yourself a cup of tea and have one mouthful then tip it away.
Cook yourself a meal and let it burn. Next time cook a meal and let it go cold before eating eat. Next time you cook eat three mouthfuls then throw it away. Repeat on a cycle forever.
Have an early night with dp/dh, start having sex but stop before the good bit. Every time.
Sit down to watch your favourite tv programme and then leave the room to sit in a dark bedroom alone in silence for 10 minutes at a time. Repeat until your programme has finished.
Arrange a night out. Buy a new dress and get all done up. Leave the venue half an hour after you get there, come home.
Everytime you eat or drink something, smear some of it all over you. Especially if you are dressed for work.
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