BECOMING A PARENT: 10 Things That Might Surprise You
Hello my dear readers, as children’s day is last week I thought to touch on parenting. That time your loved one tells you those special words: “WE ARE EXPECTING”, “I AM PREGNANT”, “WE ARE GOING TO BE PARENTS”. It’s such a magical time and at the same time can be daunting! Raising a child is full of surprises. No matter how many books, parenting forums, and articles you read, nothing can completely prepare you for becoming a parent. If I could go back to before I had my first born and tell myself what I didn’t know I would experience, this is what I would say:
1. Making a Baby Isn’t as Easy as It Sounds
Some people are able to reproduce as easily as bunnies, but for others, that’s not always the case. The human body doesn’t really work that way. So if you’re thinking of having a child someday and want to plan the pregnancy for a certain time period, consider giving yourself some extra time and try not to stress out about the whole thing.
2. Children Rack Up a Lot of Surprise Costs
There is one thing you will need a lot of in the first few years: Diapers. A whole lot of diapers. You know that already, but you’re probably still underestimating how many diapers you’ll end up buying (or washing, if you go the cloth route). This makes subscribing to a newspaper for the diaper coupons worth it alone.
Other expenses will seem to come out of the blue over the course of your child’s life. Music lessons, for example, for thousands of naira a month, class trip costs, babysitting costs, and even medicine and medical fees can take you by surprise. Cost of daycare. (It’s like you need to take a second job to pay for the daycare that lets you work your first job.) So spend less on baby gear and keep in mind these unexpected (or unexpectedly high) costs that really add up.
3. You Will Lose and Surely Miss Sleep
Even past the infant and toddler stages, you might have sleep issues. Middle-of-the-night nightmares, your children sleeping between you and your significant other, difficulty getting them up in time for school, and so on. A word to the wise: Don’t start a sleep or nighttime habit (like letting your child into your bed in the middle of the night) you don’t want to continue until your child is in college.
4. You Don’t Need a Lot of Baby Stuff or Clothes
Strollers, car seats, playpens, swings, bouncy chairs, play mats, sleep hammocks, teething rings, bibs, burp cloths…babies seemingly need a ton of accoutrements. Let me save you a lot of money: You don’t need even half of those things.
Many new parents fear their babies will get bored or will need constant stimulation to develop super baby brains, but the truth is infants pretty much just sleep, wake up and cry to be fed, and then fall asleep after being fed. You don’t need multiple, endless ways to occupy them even when they’ve started toddling, because everything is entertaining to a young child. (It’s also why baby-proofing is important.) Also, kids tend to discard even new toys quicker than it took you to look for and buy them. I have a garage full of baby distractions and stuffed animals (the bane of my existence). To this day, I’m thinking: blocks or making toys out of toilet paper rolls would have saved me a lot.
Similarly, I wish I hadn’t bought so many baby clothes—at least new ones. For one thing, family and friends love to gift adorable outfits (who can resist buying tiny shoes, even if the baby can’t stand up?). For another, kids grow like weeds, so some outfits are rarely even worn before they don’t fit.
5. The First Few Months Are Pure Torture
I sometimes think babies’ cries are so grating, their sleep so erratic, and breastfeeding so painful just to harden up parents. If you can survive the first few months of Baby Boot Camp without losing your mind, you can survive anything—you’re like a superhero. Because, really, the first few months are hell if you enjoy sleeping, showering, and functioning well.
Others told me it was hard. But it’s impossible to truly convey just what it’s like to wake up at night every two hours for several months. Or try to calm a baby who’s screaming inconsolably. Or deal with your body now being three sizes bigger than it used to be. Or struggle with not feeling like yourself for not just months but maybe even years.
The other thing to know, though, is that as bad as it gets, you’ll get through it. (Just don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you suffer from post-partum depression.) There are blissful, amazing moments during that period too, and, after enough time passes, you might even think back wistfully on this period and even be crazy enough to go through that torture again.
To Be Continued…
By Teri Mendes