Becoming a parent is a wonderful and truly life-changing experience. But as first-time parents it’s fair to say you’re never 100% prepared for what lies ahead of you. The last two years have been life-changing for us, and not something we could really prepare for, although we certainly did our best to get ready for becoming parents.
A lot of things lie ahead for new parents, and pretty much all of them will be first time experiences. Yes, we may have nieces and nephews, younger siblings or even stepchildren, but the responsibility of being there for your child 24/7 is something that really changes your outlook on things.
Still, a lot of the challenges you face can be more easily tackled if you know what to expect. It’s worth preemptively taking steps to alleviate your future stress. With that in mind, these are the things worth knowing before you have your first child.
With this in mind, here are a few things to consider to help prepare yourself for becoming parents. While there are many things to consider, these are just some of the steps we would suggest taking some time to learn more on.
6 Things For First Time Parents to Remember
Prepare for the Birth
For the most part, you’re probably preparing yourself for parenthood. Still, the first step is to actually prepare yourself for the birth of your baby. Obviously, you’ve already been told that it’s a physically and mentally draining experience and nothing can prepare you for it, but that doesn’t mean there’s no preparing to be done.
You should check out this baby hospital bag prep checklist to make sure you’ve packed everything you’ll need when you go into labour. It’s wise to do this at least 4 – 6 weeks before your due date so that you’re not caught unaware. You should also keep towels in your car so that you can keep yourself and your seats dry if you’re out and about and your water breaks.
One final tip in preparing yourself for the actual birth is to talk to others who have experienced this – friends, family, even your parents. Ask them what you should be aware of and try to get some advice for staying calm when the moment finally comes – this will help you for all of 5 – 10 minutes 🙂
The Time Goes Quickly
Everybody says this, and it’s one of the few statements which is applicable to all parents. It’s an important thing to know for many reasons. Firstly, whilst you might always see your child as that little baby in your arms, the fact is that they grow up in the blink of an eye (the last two years for us have just gone by so quick).
The key to parenting is adapting and adopting new techniques as your children get older. Make sure you don’t mollycoddle your kid once they start to gain independence. You need to encourage their exploration of things – food, items, your home, your garden, and indeed, the world around them. If they fall over (and they will) then help them up, but don’t discourage their mini adventures.
In a sentimental sense, it’s important to remember that time goes quickly so you can stop and simply enjoy the moment. Being in the present is important. As an exhausted parent, it can be difficult to focus on the beauty of it all, but make sure you do on a regular basis.
Keep a diary of key milestones from your child. In a world in which technology is ever advancing, be sure to try and capture those key moments – first words, first steps, etc – because they will go by in a heartbeat. But if you record them, you will have them to cherish forever.
This applies to both the parents and the child. Obviously, it’s easier said than done. During their first few months of life, babies struggle to sleep comfortably (although there are some exceptions, unfortunately for us, Lewis wasn’t a great sleeper for his first 15 months).
While your kids will eventually fall into a sleep pattern, this can easily be disrupted in the early months by the dreaded teething phase, which can last many months. This can result in your kids wakening up at all sorts of hours, and unfortunately this can mean a lot of disturbed nights sleep for you.
Your main priority, of course, will be helping to ease your little one back off to sleep. Resting well is crucial to the healthy mental and physical development of a growing child, after all. Of course, sleep is still important for fully-grown adults. Everyone in your house needs a regular bedtime routine so that you’re all healthy and happy.
You and your partner should try to take shifts if your child is particularly unsettled at any point. That way, you can each get a good night’s sleep on alternate nights. It’s a tough compromise, but it’ll help on a temporary basis. This can sometimes be easier said than done though as in our circumstances it was usually Helen getting up when Lewis wakened as Lewis was a breastfeed baby and not a huge fan of the bottle.
If you’re a single parent then you should take the night off from time to time and seek the help from your loved ones with regards to babysitting. We’ll talk about that more in the next point.
It’s Okay to Accept Help
As was briefly mentioned in the above point, your loved ones can be very helpful if you’re overwhelmed by the demands of parenting. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy if you ask for help. You need to keep yourself in good physical and mental shape, as we’ve already made clear.
Sometimes, the best way to achieve this is to take a break and tap in a friend or relative. If you work then you might hire a nanny to look after your child during the day, but it’s important to give yourself a little time for relaxation too. You need to remember to protect your own wellbeing as well as that of your child.
You do that without thinking at the moment, but it’s easy to forget about your personal health once your baby is born. Accept the help of those close to you when you need it. They say it takes a village to raise a child, after all. Even if you just need help in the form of answers to questions, never be afraid to seek assistance.
Trusting Your Instincts
Of course, as important as it is to seek help whenever you need it, you shouldn’t worry too much about the opinions of other people. You have to remember that every kid is different, so they’ll have different needs. We all grow up to be unique individuals, after all.
Other parents will likely share their own parenting experiences and it’s certainly worth listening to others as they have been there and done it. They may have some great hints and tips for you to consider, but when it comes to your own children sometimes it’s just as important to trust your own gut instinct.
Trust your own instincts because they have strong foundations. At the end of the day, you’ll know your own child. It might be hard to understand until you have your first kid, but the connection and level of understanding will make sense once you do.
It’s Okay to Relax
The best way to ensure you’re a dedicated and alert parent is to ensure you take care of yourself. Take the time to relax if you can, so that you maintain your physical and mental strength. As mentioned earlier, if you need the help of family and friends so you can take the occasional night off to recharge then that’s fine.
You’re only human, and your wellbeing is crucial to the wellbeing of your child. If you run yourself into a state of exhaustion you will not be 100% for both yourself and your child, so be sure to take some time for yourself to relax and refresh yourself.
Got Something to Add?
Do you have anything to add to the list based on your own experiences of being a parent? Let us know in the comments section below.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
Helen, Nial and Lewis