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Surprising Things New Parents Should Know
“If only babies came with instructional manuals” is a sentiment often expressed by new parents who are finding parenting even more difficult than they anticipated. Many think it’s supposed to come naturally...but does it?
No matter how many books you read or how many experienced parents you rely on for information before the baby comes, no one can ever be totally prepared to be a parent. Parenting is a job often best learned by trial and error. In fact, there are some surprising things new parents should know, but often don’t.
- It often doesn’t magically click. Maybe you were told by someone else who already had kids that once you had children of your own everything would simply click. Perhaps you heard that an innate parental instinct would kick in automatically so you’d know exactly what to do all the time. You’ve likely discovered this isn’t the case at all.
Many new parents feel completely overwhelmed by the sudden changes to their lifestyle, level of responsibility and sleep patterns. The first thing to come to terms with is it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed. There’s nothing wrong with you just because you don’t automatically have all the answers. No one does.
- You don’t have to give up your freedom. Friends who don’t have children may joke that you’ll be giving up your freedom once you become a parent. They may say you’ll go from being carefree and happily self-centered to hopelessly tied-down and self-sacrificing overnight. While it’s true that good parenting demands time, commitment and a fair share of self-sacrifice, becoming a parent doesn’t mean you have to give up your freedom.
Becoming a parent shouldn’t mean you have to give up your other interests and hobbies, even if you don’t have as much time to pursue them. It does mean you’ll need to act as a role model, so it might indeed mean a lifestyle change. If you’re truly ready to become a parent, you’ll be ready to change who you are to suit your new role in life but still have the freedom to enjoy the things that make you happy.
- It doesn’t get easier. Regular feedings, diaper changes and irregular sleep all make caring for a newborn baby difficult. Parents of newborns are often sleep-deprived. It can be hard to keep up with other responsibilities when you have a baby depending on you. However, it doesn’t necessarily get easier as your child becomes more self-sufficient. It doesn’t necessarily get harder either.
Every stage of parenting comes with its own challenges. If you surveyed parents about which stage they most preferred you’d get back varied answers. Everyone is different. Some parents enjoy the newborn stage the most, while others enjoy the toddler or teenage years the most. Instead of waiting and hoping for the day that it becomes easier, it’s important to focus on the positive and know that challenges will appear, often unexpected, at every age.
- Parenting may age you, but not how you’d expect. Most people know that parenting can age both men and women. The truth is that parenting probably does age you, but not always in the ways you might expect.
Plenty of parents remain just as active as they did before they had children. If personal fitness and physical activities were important to you before you had children, continue to pursue them. When you’re children are old enough, include them in your fitness schedule. Parenting doesn’t have to age you physically any faster than you normally would. Parenting does make you the responsible one though. Be proud that your age has brought along with it wisdom you can pass on to your child.
- Your life will be taken over by their interests. Once you have kids you can forget things like a carefree schedule and a perfectly clean house. Before you know it your living space will be full of baby accessories. You’ll be more interested in parenting manuals and magazines than the latest books and TV shows and you’ll be watching more cartoons than you have since you were five.
But guess what? It’s not a bad thing and it will balance out again. While you won’t have as much time to spend on your grown-up pursuits, you’ll actually be interested in some of the things your child finds interesting. Eventually all of the kid’s movies and toys littering your living room floor will disappear. You may actually look back and miss those times when cartoons ruled your house.
- It will be the most amazing journey of your life. So many people focus on the sacrifices of parenting. They talk as if putting your child first means you’ll always be missing out. You might feel that way sometimes, but it’s all in how you approach it. In reality, parenting is one of the most amazing journeys you ever make. It can be a wonderful gift, leading to self-growth and a greater sense of self and contentment than you’ve ever had before.
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