6 ways to mentally prepare yourself for parenting

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Did you attend antenatal classes in preparation for the birth of your child? Or parenting classes, hoping to be prepared for what your new role would be?

Honestly, it's most likely they haven't taught you the whole truth. Because it's impossible to be fully prepared for parenthood.

Here are a few reasons you can never really prepare yourself for the arrival of your little bundle of joy …

1. Grooming

Do you wake in the morning refreshed and happy, where the two most important questions that go through your mind are: 'What should I have for breakfast?' and 'How should I do my hair today?' Do you enjoy the feeling of slipping on that crisp white shirt and giving yourself a mental nod of approval as you glance in the mirror on your way out of the house?

It's probably not news to you, but once the kids arrive, that time will no longer be about you. Between feeding baby, feeding kids, bathing kids, making lunches, ironing uniforms, and yelling at teenagers to get out of bed, the last glance you take in the mirror on your way out will soon be to make sure you're not covered in peanut butter/vomit/frustration. And most of the time, in those early days, you'll even forget to do that … and not realise you have baby spew down your shoulder/in your hair until you're on the way home.

2. Cooking

Do you find yourself leaning on the kitchen bench daydreaming about your new life with your (as yet unborn) child? From the garlic-infused steamed carrot, pumpkin and broccoli mash you imagine yourself cooking for your baby, to the apple, quinoa and cinnamon muffins you'll one day fill your model child's lunchbox with?

Well good news! You WILL get to cook the garlic-infused steamed carrot, pumpkin and broccoli mash. Just be prepared for baby to spit the said mash straight back into your face.

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And the love-filled quinoa muffins? Expect compliments from your kids such as: "I'd rather eat dirt." Or perhaps the classic: "I wish you were Scott's mum. Scott's mum gives him triple chocolate choc-chip cookies."

3. Sick days

When you're sick, you may be used to taking the day off work. Maybe you'll watch some daytime TV while sipping on a bowl of chicken noodle soup. If you're lucky, there'll be someone there later to get you tissues.

Post-kids, of course, there WILL be 'someone' there, but be prepared: they will be small and demanding and won't understand that you lying on a tissue-covered couch, a stone's throw from death's door, means that you can't play with them. 

4. Toilet time

Within those four private walls you are queen. It's when you can truly be yourself, free to read your iPhone without a care in the world.

But really, prepare to overhaul your bathroom techniques. You'll learn to do your 'business' in record time, with the toilet door ajar, both ears on alert for your newborn's cry. You'll also develop the skills to 'unload' while still partaking in a discussion involving a never-ending flow of questions from an inquisitive toddler who may be on either side of that door.

My suggestion? Learn meditation techniques to help you concentrate on 'the job' despite the battering of questions from your child. You'll learn to make their cries of: "Where's my uniform?" and "What's for breakfast?" seem like the whispers of another world.

5. Attention

You know the feeling. You haven't caught up with your parents or family for a couple of weeks and visiting means you're treated like a superstar. Your family is so overjoyed to see you that you're bombarded with food, questions and attention. You feel loved. You're the best. You belong.

And then baby comes. On visits you find that as the door is opened, baby is snatched away and you're left on the doorstep wondering where everyone went. And as you shut the door behind you, shoulders slumped, you realise it's not just about you anymore.

Actually it's not about you at all.

But you'll soon learn to love the respite a visit to the family means, as others play with the baby and you can relax and take part in adult conversation. The conversation will be all about your baby of course, but hey, at least it's adult conversation.

6. Love

Do you imagine a life where the unconditional love you share with your child envelopes every moment of your day? Do you imagine spending hours walking in the park, gazing lovingly at each other because your toddler only sees you as her whole world? Do you look forward to being amazed by every little thing your baby learns as if he was some kind of mini genius?

Then enjoy these daydreams. Because they're not just daydreams: this will be your life.

And nothing will prepare you for this!

For more of Marianne's honest parenting blogs click on over to Enough with the Lemons.