You’ve heard it before – becoming a parent changes you. But, apart from bigger breasts, stretch marks and a few grey hairs, how can it really change you?
Here are a few things I never knew before taking the plunge into parenthood – and the things that I think all parents-to-be should know.
1. Rest up while pregnant and let your partner rest up too.
You know those sleeps that seem to last forever, where you wake up briefly, then sigh, roll over, perhaps give your partner a cuddle and fall back to sleep blissfully unaware of your surroundings or the time? Well, you can pretty much forget them. But, you know what, waking each morning to the happy face of a beautiful newborn baby is pretty good too. Your sleeping’s going to take years to recover though, so get as much of it as you can right now.
2. Rest when the baby rests without fail. All else can wait.
Some days will go on forever. But, blink, and suddenly bub is celebrating his first birthday. Then you’ll be sending him off to school and wondering just how time got away so quickly.
3. Go easy on yourself. Parenting really is harder than you imagined it would be.
I know you thought you and your partner would be the first couple ever to have a baby and just keep on going as though nothing monumental had happened. (Come on, admit it!) Parenting is exhausting. When your baby gets older, sometimes you will feed them takeaway. Sometimes you will forget to wash their hair. Sometimes you will skip a bedtime story because you’re simply too tired.
It’s okay. You’re doing your best. Don’t let the parenting guilts get you down.
4. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there. Avoid Dr Google.
It’s hard to keep up with trends. And you know what? Turns out people parented children successfully for thousands of years, even without social media! Crazy, right? And if you want to, you can too.
5. Bodily fluids matter more than you ever thought possible.
When was the last dirty nappy? Did he just spew too much milk after his feed? Does that snot seem a bit green? Does it warrant a call to the doctor? Yes, these thoughts enter your head several times during the first years of parenthood.
6. Organise as much as you can before the baby is born.
Future you will thank you for it. Make use of free internet resources like Sign Up Genius to organise the help you need. You can share the links on social media and give friends the opportunity to help with all kinds of everyday tasks. Too embarrassed to ask people to sign up? Don’t be – but if you are, you could get a trusted friend to spread the word for you.
7. How satisfying (and draining!) a day can be.
Some days you will collapse in bed feeling like you have been hit by a bus – because juggling parenthood with other daily duties is incredibly draining, and it never ends.
But it’s (usually) satisfying too – and filled with moments that make the exhaustion worth it. You just have to look for them.
8. Routine can actually save your sanity.
Living outside the box is fun but, when you are busy, it’s best to have some sort of structure in place, especially for bub. Having a little bit of control of your routine can help keep your head clear amongst the chaos.
9. Accepting help can make a world of difference.
Before you became a parent, life was already busy. So it’s no surprise that after you have children it feels even crazier. It’s a good crazy but it’s always easier if you have help!
So call in the grandparents and friends, folks! Don’t be a martyr. If you’re following the list, you already have your meals (and maybe some washing) sorted, but you’ll need help looking after your children from time to time too. If you’re in Victoria you ought to check out Placement Solutions, which specialises in matching qualified nannies, night nannies and newborn care specialists with families who require casual, shared, full-time, part-time or even night care. Placement Solutions takes care of all the paperwork including tax deductions, superannuation, WorkCover and insurance. I’ll just say that again in case you missed it – night care!! Let’s all spend a minute imagining how great that would be, even as a one-off…
10. Just how quickly your whole world can change (and how amazing it really is)
The truth is, everything changes once you have children – you have a whole new responsibility and a whole new person depending on you. No, you don’t lose your identity when you become a parent. But it will change, and that change will look a bit different for everyone. It’s demanding and tiring at times, but absolutely worth it. To bring a child into the world and nurture them is the greatest privilege of all.
And while the journey of parenthood will vary with every family, it’s always good to have a bit of an idea of the road that lies ahead. Good luck!
(This is a sponsored post for Placement Solutions)