There are few things in life that have a more profound impact than being told that you’re going to be a parent. Most of us grow up with a plan mapped out, which involves falling in love and having a family somewhere along the line.
The trouble is that no amount of preparation and planning can prepare you for what really happens when that screaming bundle enters the world and turns up it upside down. If you’re gearing up to welcome a new addition to the family, hopefully, these pearls of wisdom will come in handy.
Figuring Out What You Actually Need
When you start reading magazines and blogs, and you take those first couple of outings to stores packed to the rafters with ‘baby essentials’, you could be forgiven for thinking that you need to spend your entire salary kitting out a nursery. The truth is that newborns need a lot of stuff, but they certainly don’t require everything in the early stages.
It can be daunting trying to work through a list you need to tick off before you reach the due date, but try not to panic. Focus on the items that you’re actually going to use in the first few weeks.
Take a look at nursery furniture, but don’t worry if you can’t decide which wardrobe or shelving unit to buy at this moment in time. For the first six months or so, your baby will probably be residing in your room, so it doesn’t really matter if you haven’t got the interior design pinned down just yet. Make sure you have a cot and a changing table and plenty of storage for the endless vests and sleep-suits you’ll go through, and stock up on nappies, wipes, blankets and bottles.
Don’t worry too much if you haven’t got a toy collection to rival Hamleys when your little one arrives. You can buy as you go, and you’ll have a much better idea of what you actually need once that little person has made their entrance.
Preparing Yourself Mentally
You can listen to tales from other dads all day long, but nothing can really ever prepare you for how your life changes when you have a child. That said, it is wise to try and get your head around what is going to happen as best you can. Be prepared for highs and lows, long days and even longer nights and be kind to yourself. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be a perfect parent from day one. Remember that every single parent is in the same boat.
Talk to anyone, and they’ll tell you that in those first weeks, winging it was the order of the day.
There’s no instructions or guidebook, so do the best you can, and be ready to fight through those episodes when you’re exhausted, and you’re doubting yourself. Be strong, be confident in what you’re doing and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice and lean on those around you. Nobody you meet will ever tell you that parenting is easy.
Adjusting Your Lifestyle
There’s no getting away from the fact that becoming a parent will bring about major changes in your lifestyle. If you’re used to living spontaneously, you enjoy lazy days, or you’re a gym bunny or a workaholic, you’re going to have to make some adjustments.
Time is a luxury most parents don’t have, and it’s so beneficial to try and work out ways you can use more time more effectively and get yourself into a routine that is more suited to parenthood.
Assess your priorities, look after yourself and be prepared to make sacrifices.
If you’re ready to be more flexible and adapt your daily routine to accommodate your new role, you’ll find life much easier. Find a balance between getting yourself ready and taking life as it comes. It’s impossible to predict how every day is going to turn out and trying to over-plan may cause even more stress and anxiety.