I have three children aged nine, six and four. I know what I am talking about when I say there are things you should do before you become parents. Five things to be exact.
Seriously, I wish someone had told me how much sleep you lose during the first decade of a child’s life and particularly during that first year after becoming a mother. Mind you, had I known then what I know now I might have slept through my entire 20s and missed that decade.
|They sleep, but not for long.|
Sleep when you can, lie in on a weekend, spend lazy Sunday mornings (to hell with it, and afternoons) eating breakfast in bed and, reading great books and watching fabulous movies. By the time your days are filled with nappies, milk feeds and rocking a baby sleep is a distant memory.
You don’t travel light with a baby or toddler in tow. In fact, if you’ve got any sanity left you just won’t bother travelling at all.
Entertaining a hungry, cranky, bored toddler waiting for an overdue flight in a busy holiday shouldn’t be on any sane person’s wish list. And long haul flights? Baahahhaaa. It’s why the local motorways are blocked up in the summer holidays with cars filled with car seats and little people, and every possible item you could never imagine you needed before you became parents packed in every other spare centimetre of car space.
So, before you have a baby go see the world, spread your wings and enjoy what the world has to offer – it will be a decade or more before that idea becomes fun again.
|Trust your instinct and ditch the parenting books|
3. DITCH THE PARENTING BOOKS
Once you know you’ll imminently become a parent there is an urge to run out and buy, borrow or read every parenting book you can get your hands on. Don’t.
One thing the books can’t teach you is this: trust your instinct. A mother’s instinct is the most powerful tool at your disposal. Once you are a parent, you can better understand your own parenting style and then seek out reading material as an aide, or other people with the same parenting philosophy. Reading every book or article with the word parent in the title before that time will only confuse, upset and mystify you. There is conflicting advice everywhere you look so let your instinct guide you in the right direction.
I know, I just said ditch the parenting books but I’m talking about other reading material, the reading that you have always wanted to do. Now is the time to grab those classics on your reading bucket list. Now is the time to make the most of your favourite magazine subscription. Sign up at your local library and make your library card work for you.
Enjoy the peace, quiet and time that you have before a baby arrives. Trust me, you won’t pick up another non-parenting book until long after your baby has turned one.
5. PREPARE FOR A LIFETIME OF CHANGE
|Life will never be the same again.|
That is easy for me to say of course, I have three children. I know the before children and the after kids life very well indeed but before you actually have a baby it’s hard to imagine all the ways life will change but, let me assure you, nothing in your life post kids will ever be the same again.
Your living room turns into one giant play room. There are potties and toilet training seats filling bathrooms and the downstairs loo. Your dining room floor always looks as if a food fight has just taken place (and usually it has, just not in the same way as during those fun student days). Your garden is filled with plastic houses, slides and balls and the beautiful flowers you plant last one hour after they have bloomed before they are plucked by chubby little hands.
But the biggest change of all is not inside your house. It’s inside you. From the moment you become a parent your heart is filled with unconditional love. You will have no idea where this love comes from but it is all consuming. You are no longer responsible for just one person on this planet, and that feeling is overwhelming. Welcome to parenthood. Life will never be the same again.
Life will be better. So much better. Even without sleeping and travelling and reading, without peace and quiet and even though your home no longer feels like a sanctuary, life will be better. Because you have a little hand to hold, a little person to lead through life. Because you are somebody’s mama.
What would you add to the list? What should you do before you become parents?
If you want to read more about parenting abroad head over to support Knocked Up Abroad on Kickstarter and buy a pre-release copy of the book!