There’s really no way to be a parent until you have kids. Then, every day is a brand new opportunity to both learn and unlearn countless ideas.
You could say that new parents spend a lot of time in one, big learning curve. It’s how they become the best parent possible.
But that doesn’t mean you should wait until the stork brings the baby before your parenting journey begins. Parenting actually starts before your child is even born.
Why Are You Having Kids?
This is an important question that all men and women need to ask themselves before pregnancy even occurs. Your motivation for having children will drastically influence how you parent them.
For example, some people have kids because of the expectations and pressure from friends, family, and society. Later down the road, these parents may realize that they didn’t actually want children. They can feel confused and resentful.
Others have kids as a way to find fulfillment. But by doing so, these people place a lot of pressure on their children to bring them personal happiness and satisfaction. Some folks have kids to save a relationship, and this is an unfair responsibility to give to your children.
Then, there are people who have kids because they truly want to welcome new individuals into their life. This is the best reason to have children. It doesn’t mean your parenting will be perfect. Nor does it mean that you won’t have days when you question your sanity and want to give up.
But if you start your parenting journey with the right motivation, this is an anchor you can return to again and again.
What is Your Parenting Mindset?
When you look at yourself and your future child together, what do you see? What does your relationship look like?
Do you see a dominant figure overseeing a submissive child? Do you see obligatory respect and blind obedience? Do you hear, “It’s my way or the highway” and “Because I said so!”?
Or, do you see two, equal individuals who share time on earth together? Do you see your child as an independent individual who must think and act for himself?
When you look deep inside, you’ll realize that when it comes to children, you can feel a myriad of emotions.
Do you feel threatened or curious? Do you feel reverence or arrogance? Try to come face to face with the truth inside you. The best parents learn to cultivate self-awareness and are very honest with themselves.
Prenatal Parenting is a book written by a neonatologist, Dr. Frederick Wirth. His main message is that in order to have a healthy baby, the pregnant mother must take care of her emotional wellbeing. That’s because the mother’s emotions become the unborn baby’s emotions, too. And a mother’s stress can negatively impact the baby’s growth and development inside the womb.
Dr. Wirth recommends that pregnant moms take three “fetal love breaks” each day. What are fetal love breaks? They’re like mini dates you take with your unborn baby. You can relax to some calming music. Or, you can practice meditation, or even read and speak to your baby.
It’s how mothers can start sending love to their baby and nurture their emotional wellbeing before birth.
Be Prepared for Birth
No one can predict what will happen at birth. But with mindful preparation, you can take steps to ensure that your birth is as peaceful and calm as possible. Why does this make you a better parent?
Traumatic, stressful and anxiety-ridden births can negatively impact your child for years to come.
So, as a mom-to-be, learn as much as you can about different birthing methods. There’s hypnobirthing, cesarean sections, unmedicated and medicated births, water births and so much more. There’s also meditation and breathing techniques that can support you during labor.
It’s up to you to decide which birth method aligns with your lifestyle and values. Then, do everything you can to ensure that your birth goes the way you want it to. This helps to prevent unnecessary stress and disappointment for the parents. Plus, it provides a safe and secure welcome mat for your baby.
Be Prepared for Life After Birth
Once your baby’s born, your life will never be the same. But there are steps you can take to mitigate this huge lifestyle shift.
- Budget: Start to plan for all the baby expenses long before he arrives. This includes everything from prenatal care, hospital visits, baby supplies and having less income.
- Childcare: What about daycares and babysitters? Will you need them? Can you afford them? And what do you look for in the ideal care provider?
- Vaccines: What’s your stance on immunization? Are you familiar with vaccination schedules, and daycare requirements?
- Boundaries: Family and friends can be an enormous help when it comes to meal preparation and childcare. But any boundary issues you already have won’t go away once the baby’s born. In fact, unaddressed boundary problems can only create lots of tension and resentment. Try to come up with a plan and communicate with people who tend to unintentionally overstep their boundaries.
Taking Care of Yourself So That You Can Take Care of Your Child
Parents do need to make compromises and sacrifice certain things to ensure that their child is safe, protected and provided for. Gone are the late nights and weekend parties. The same goes for uninterrupted sleep (at least some of the time).
But this is all normal and to be expected.
The problem is that some parents sacrifice everything for their little one. This goes for everything from career, self-care, dates with their partner, time with friends, hobbies, and pastimes, and so much more.
Unfortunately, this is how parents can quickly exhaust themselves and run on empty. And it’s hard to give love and attention to someone else when you don’t know how to give love and attention to yourself.
It might seem selfish for a new mother to take care of herself, but if she doesn’t, both she and her child will suffer.
Who you are as a person will influence who you are as a parent. Take time before your kids arrive to cultivate self-awareness and self-care practices. This is how you can become the best parent possible, even before your child is born.