Being a parent is one of the most rewarding adventures. The roller coaster of emotions you’ll experience as a parent can be overwhelming and unexpected.
Kids require a level of commitment unlike any other. It’s truly an experience you cannot fully comprehend until you are in the trenches learning as you go. Here are some things they don’t tell you about parenting that you’ll want to know.
1. You’ll Constantly Be Sore and Tired
Caring for a newborn is no easy task, but it gets better. The first six weeks of parenting are the worst. Prepare yourself for sleepless nights, muscle cramps, sore breasts, and a constant array of questions you’ll have. You can read all the parenting books and still have questions that arise as soon as you’re home with your baby.
Avoid using the internet to research your questions if it gives you anxiety or you tend to worry too much. Your doctors will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have after you leave the hospital’s care.
Regardless of age, you’ll likely be tired for the duration of your time as a parent. When they’re little, you’ll lose sleep because of their crying.
As they age, there will be myriad new reasons to worry that might cause you to lose sleep. Don’t worry–you won’t trade it for the world no matter how much angst they cause.
Small children get into everything. You can put up child gates, child lock your cabinets and put protective covers on your outlets, but they still manage to find crayons to draw on the walls. You will get vomit on your clothing and maybe in your hair. It all comes with the territory.
2. You Become Their Guide
As a parent, you are your child’s beacon of light, the master of solutions and the beholder of the good, bad and the ugly. You are their everything all the time until they’re old enough to fend for themselves and sometimes even still.
You’ll have to talk about hard things and watch their hearts break—it will be brutal, but it’s part of it. You have to take the good with the bad.
Gently explaining loss to your child can be excruciating, depending on how they react, but it’s a part of life that they should learn from you. Ensure to answer their questions and talk openly about how they’re feeling.
Open and honest communication can help your child feel safe. Provide healthy outlets for them to express their emotions like drawing, journaling, music or exercise. You are your child’s greatest teacher–they will learn and model themselves after what you say and what you do.
Your child will face challenges that you will want to solve for them. Parents would do anything to take the pain away from their children, but most of the time it isn’t possible. You can guide them through their pain and help them understand and cope with changes.
When your child has difficulty learning, you can discover their learning style and find alternative ways to appeal to their educational needs. You’re responsible for the things they learn, how they act, and how they survive–it’s all up to the parents.
3. You’ll Continually Adjust and Perceive Differently
Becoming a parent often changes your values and your perceptions. You will constantly adjust to your child’s stages as they age, which can feel overwhelming. Often, as soon as you get used to their routine and schedule, it will likely change again. You’ll soon learn how to roll with the punches and take things as they come.
You may start to feel like you’re losing your identity as a parent. Who were you before you had children? Your hopes and dreams change as your world revolves around your child–that’s completely normal and OK.
Dreams change, and that’s perfectly OK. Especially when your children are small and leaving the house starts to feel like a luxury. Going to the bathroom alone is no small feat–taking a shower can feel like a day at the spa.
The task list is never-ending as a parent. As they age, they gain extracurricular activities, school functions, and homework, and on top of all that you have to find time for errands and other adult things.
Your parenting will evolve as your child ages, and you will find your balance. It takes practice and patience that you may not feel you have, but you will find it. It’s natural to feel lost as a new parent, but your instincts will rescue you more than once.
It’s hard, but there are ways to navigate and maintain your sense of self as you parent. Ensure to practice self-care to nourish your body and mind so you can be the best version of yourself for your kids.
Calendars, spreadsheets and a healthy work-life balance can help you stay on track and keep everything to have a social life and be the kind of parent you want to be.
Parenting Is Hard, but It’s Worth It
Regardless of the difficulties, parenting is worth every moment, no matter how torturous it can be. Prepare yourself for them as much as possible and prepare for the little things that will melt your heart in more ways than you can imagine–it’s worth it.