Preparing for Parenthood

“Having a child is the most rewarding experience of your life. ”

That statement is guaranteed to immediately divide the room. On one side, there are the people nodding emphatically — some of them with wry expressions of joy mingled with exhaustion, others with the sagely peace of people whose children have grown up and left home — and on the other side are the people who don’t have children, looking either bored or sceptical.

Before my children were born, I was one of those bored, cynical people. I listened to people talk about motherhood and, I’m ashamed to admit, often thought they were a little soft in the head. “My daughter is amazing. She only sleeps for two hours at a time and she spits up constantly, but when she looks at me and smiles, my heart just melts.”

Really? This baby stops you sleeping and vomits on you, and you think that’s good? You’re clearly insane. Besides, I’ve had plenty of rewarding experiences in my life. I’ve travelled, I’ve had a job that I love, I’ve had pets who depend on me and love me unconditionally. How much different can a child possibly be?

All the parents in the room can stop sniggering now.

The fact is that having a child changes your life, your mindset, your priorities, and (in the case of a child-bearing and/or breastfeeding mother) even your physiology. When my first son was born and placed on my chest, he opened his eyes and looked into mine. In that moment, it wasn’t just my life that was changed — it was me. I distinctly remember leaving the hospital three days later, baby in my arms, and looking at the road I had to cross to get to the car park. “How am I going to get over there?” I thought to myself. “How can I possibly cross the road, dodging these terrifying projectiles hurtling past me at extreme speeds? Why have I never noticed before how dangerous the world truly is?”

But enough of that. There was no way that anyone could have explained those feelings to me before my boys were born, no matter how eloquent they were. The thing is, that feeling is what so many people focus on when they talk about parenthood. They talk about the feelings that come with holding your newborn, or the way the world changes, or the way the hard stuff fades into insignificance in comparison to the good stuff. (I’m also guilty of doing this.)

But that’s not what I’m writing about today.

You see, while the good stuff is amazing, that doesn’t mean you don’t feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and generally unprepared for all the hard stuff. People will tell you that there’s no way to truly prepare yourself for the way your life will change. But I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong.

I give you: Five Ways to Prepare for Parenthood

  1. Find an alarm clock. Set the alarm to go off every two and a half hours, day and night. Every time the alarm goes off, immediately stop whatever you’re doing, jump to your feet, and spend five minutes running backwards and forwards around the house — really get that adrenalin flowing. Then return to what you were doing, and try to pretend there was no interruption. Do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the next three years. If you intend to have more than one child, add an extra two years per child.
  2. Every time you cook yourself a meal, leave it sitting on the table untouched until it’s cold. For bonus preparation points, forget about it entirely and find it still sitting there the following day, then eat it rather than cook something fresh.
  3. Ask a friend to spray you with a mix of sour milk and water at random, unexpected intervals throughout the day. Don’t wash or change your clothes afterwards.
  4. Fixate on poo. Spend your free time reading about it, looking at pictures of it, and discussing what it means when poo is different colours or consistencies. Insert at least one statement about poo into every conversation you have.
  5. Find the most annoying noise in world. (I would suggest either a baby crying or a toddler whining?) Play this sound for sixteen hours of every day. At high volume. For bonus preparation points, have the sound start and stop at random, uncontrollable intervals throughout the day and night. Continue this for two years and then change from crying/whingeing to children’s music.

Do any other parents have preparation tips they’d like to share?


Filed under Life With Kids

22 responses to “Preparing for Parenthood

  1. Watch at least one really sad movie or read a really sad book/article/blog so you cry two or three times a day. But then again I had postpartum depression.

    Great great post.

  2. This is a perfect list, it’s my life for the past 15 years. Also, why I drink so much!

  3. ava

    What great ways! Hahaha! Brilliant list. Though, until now, I haven’t quite figured out how to deal with #5 yet.

  4. Oh Jo….you are my Mohammed, Budha, Jesus, God, Vishnu, Ganesha & my best friend. In summary – you are the shit girl! Thanks for the smile – much needed today xx

  5. Gosh you write it so well I am reliving it especially the exhaustion that came with a baby who only slept for one and a half hours at any one time for the first six months at least. OMY How could I have forgotten how tired I was ALL the time. tx.

    • It really is amazing that we get over it so quickly, and then completely forget what it was like. Or maybe not so much “amazing” as “useful”. Otherwise, I doubt any of us would have a second child!

  6. Walk around the house carrying a sack of potatoes, or something heavier, for hours on end for no apparent reason. Make sure the bag is open so that you can’t move it an inch. Say sh-sh-sh-sh the whole time you do this. If nothing else, tell yourself it’s a good workout.

  7. Ouch! Thankfully B.T.’s been a pretty good sleeper, after those tough first 6-9 months. These days (he’s a toddler now) he regularly sleeps 10-12 hours per night. (We often have to wake him in the morning to get on with our day.) He also wasn’t too bad on the spit-up. I think he did real a bad spit-up only two or three times, total, and regular throw-up only a couple more times on top of that. But the poo fixation? Yeah, check.

    • Big Brother was a good sleeper. In fact, I admit to being quite smug and self-satisfied when I’d say to people, “Oh yes, he’s been sleeping 9 hours overnight since he was 7 weeks old. No, no, no problems at all.” By the time he was 18 months, he’d sleep for 12 – 14 hours a night, from 7:30pm to about 9:00am. A few times, he actually slept until after 10:00am. I felt like the best parent in the world. Clearly our routine was so awesome that sleep wasn’t even an issue.

      Then we had Baby #2.

      Please refer to item number 1 up there.

  8. Oh, I love this! This is in my Weekly Top 5- as in the Top 1. The final list is perfect….except I would set the alarm every hour on the hour for the first 3 months!

    • Thanks, Tricia! So glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 It’s the first 6 weeks that are the worst. With Baby #2, I remember going for 8 days without having more than 2 hours sleep a night. How do we survive it without going insane??

  9. I loved this and am looking forward to your tips as your children grow older. As an empty nester, my preparation tips would probably be to learn how to say no and mean it (the sooner you do this the easier it’s going to be to say no when all of the other kids are driving up to the summit to party and cliff jump), develop a keen eye (look for red eyes or eye drops), know the difference between the scent of Axe body spray and Axe body spray concealing some other scent, learn how to use a breathylizer, and most importantly, hangout with a person who finds you extremely annoying and overprotective.

      • Thank you. 🙂 That’s one of my favourites of Big Brother when he was still little enough to be carried. Looking at him now, it’s hard to believe he was ever that tiny!

    • I love your last tip. 🙂 That is definitely good preparation for the teenage years!

      I definitely live by your first one, too. I read someone else’s blog recently (I wish I could remember who it was! If you’re reading , please feel free to claim this quote.) and she quoted her uncle saying, “Better the child cries now than the parent cries later.” Now that is advice to live by.

      • My oldest son (age 23) just called tonight and gave me that last bit of advice about my youngest son (age 19). I’m not sure what that means, perhaps, my job is done and I can relax, OR maybe I over did it with the older son . . . . I think you have a great attitude with your oldest son and I loved the way he asked the other kids about their indoor shoes (in the next post) . . . I love his ease in the world (my daughter – age 21 – is like that; I think it’s probably harder than she makes it look).

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