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Preparing for Parenthood

by Katlyn Joy | February 4, 2013 8:55 AM
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So much of what we focus on during pregnancy revolves around the moment: what is baby needing, how is baby growing and will this harm the baby? Or else we focus on the near-future of labor and birth. But after that big day has passed you will face the real challenges of parenthood. Are you ready?

Finances

No matter your fiscal situation pre-baby, your budget is about to take a hit once baby arrives. How much of a hit will be determined by how well you plan for the future. Do you have adequate insurance? Do you have a plan to live on just one paycheck for a time after baby's birth or will you resume work after maternity leave? Determine a budget for baby needs, keeping in mind cost-saving strategies such as borrowing baby items, buying consignment shop clothes and breastfeeding.

Lifestyle

Chances are you've never been so health conscious in your life as you have been while pregnant. But why stop once baby is born? You have the perfect reason to take good care of yourself right in that crib. Keep up those exercises, don't pick up those cigarettes again, and continue munching on fresh veggies and fruits. Include baby in your activities like daily walks, make your baby's own first foods from your own healthy cooked meals. By adopting a reasonable healthy lifestyle you'll give your baby the best start and make sure you're around to enjoy grandparenthood as well.

Emotional Wellbeing

Being a new parent takes a toll on anyone, and if you feel overwhelmed in the first months, you are not alone. It's a big adjustment in yourself, in your marriage, and your friendships. You have to find a way to take care of this new totally dependent being, and still nurture yourself. Don't quit doing all the things you love, even if you may not have the time you once had to pursue them. If you were an avid bicyclist before baby, you may have to limit some of your bike trips for a bit, but don't pack up your bike altogether. If you have a hobby that inspires you, refreshes you or makes you feel alive by all means, don't cut that out of your life. Finding balance is crucial for new parents, but don't feel pressured to be only and always a mom to the total exclusion of the rest of your life. Give yourself permission to not be perfect and have outlets for yourself. Get support from loved ones and don't neglect time with them. A happy mother is a more successful mom.

Stress

Being a parent is stressful, even if your child sleeps all night from week two and potty trains herself at 18 months. You need to find ways to cope with the stress that don't create more problems. For instance, relying on a glass of wine, or four, is not the best coping mechanism. Going for a brisk walk, doing yoga, practicing meditation or even taking five minutes after a nursing session to do some deep breathing can do wonders, though. Try journaling, having a regular mom hang out time with other new moms, or just reading a hot page turner can bring down those stress hormones. If you feel depressed or hopeless, don't hide your feelings. Talk to someone you trust, whether a relative or doctor, and honestly express the feelings you are struggling with. Sometimes hormones will do a real number on you emotionally, and there are ways to help. Don't go it alone or things will get worse.

How to Handle Mommy Stress

Family Values

Have discussions with your partner about how you will handle different situations as they arise in your family. What kind of schooling do you want your child to receive? How will you discipline your rambunctious toddler, your precocious preschooler or your tantruming teen?

Talk about things in advance to see what issues are likely to be hot buttons between you, so you can explore your areas of conflict and define methods of compromise.

Dreams

Finally, focus on what your true goals are for your child and your whole family. Where do you want to be in five years? In ten or twenty? What is important to you to impart to your child as he grows? How will you teach your child your values? Keep a journal to record your hopes and your thoughts along the way to making those dreams reality.


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