Being a parent is one of the most fulfilling tasks one can ever take on. It is the privilege of watching your child grows up to be strong, independent adults. It is a journey that starts with a child being born and it never ends. While parenting itself is subject to changing fads, the job of the parent is to provide for the child, ensure their safety, influence their academic and personal growth, create a loving, nurturing home for them to shape their strengths and personalities. It is a job that requires a tremendous amount of patience and strength.
As new parents look at the task ahead, there are some realities that they must come to terms with.
The realities of parenting vs the expectation
Expectation: We have all had that thought. We see unruly children making a fuss at the store or at the airport, tired parents who look like they have given up and we make that snap judgement. ‘Our kids will be so disciplined’, we think to ourselves.
Reality: The truth is that even with all the books we read, we might end up facing a situation just like that. We can never predict the kind of tantrums we have to put up with, the anger and sadness at something as simple as not finding their favourite toy. Disciplining children is hard work. It takes an incredible amount of patience to explain what they are doing wrong. One way to discipline your child is setting rules for home and for outside. It is about showing them how to behave instead of how not to behave. However, you can never say when some insignificant thing goes wrong and you have to face a tantrum. The best thing to do is be prepared for what is to come.
Expectation: You will have plenty of time for your own needs. You can continue indulging in hobbies and have ample time to meet up with your friends. You can create the ultimate parent-life balance.
Reality: The reality of parenting is that it is a full-time job. Often, you won’t realize the time pass you by. Even with multitasking and prioritizing, you will have your hands full. The way you can make time for yourself is to involve child care facilities including hiring a babysitter. Often, with new parents who take on too much for themselves, unspoken resentment will build up too. It is important to use words, show appreciation and take a conscious effort to be kind to each other. With effective tools like a bedtime calculator, parents can send their children to bed, create rigid sleep schedules and make time for themselves.
Expectation: You have already decided that you aren’t going to let your child affect the career you have built. You will be the best possible parent with a thriving career. You will be involved in your child’s development while making time to excel in your work as well.
Reality: Work-Life balance, especially for new parents is not easy to achieve. The biggest thing holding you back is often the guilt. It is important to surrender the guilt and make the place for an accepting self. It isn’t impossible to be a working mother, but it requires making some hard choices and building the acceptance that it is okay to miss certain things. It necessitates understanding your priorities and focussing on them. By staying connected to your child during the day, you can still fulfil your responsibilities as a parent and maintain the connection you crave.
Expectations: Once my child is asleep, I can get a full night’s rest. I have the night time to myself and don’t need to worry about my child anymore.
Reality: The truth is that a parent’s job is 24/7. Your child’s sleep is a very important part of mind and body development. You need to know the answers too many important questions about sleep. What does a healthy sleep cycle look like? What are some sound sleeping tips for my child? Research and constant monitoring are the answer. In this time, it is also important to get some sleep yourself. Adjustable bed frames are a great way to get your bed to contour to your sleeping position, therefore, providing you the comfort of sleeping on a cloud.
Expectation: I will have a lot of money by the time I decide to be a parent. I will have enough in savings and afford a nice, luxurious life. Money will never be a problem and I wouldn’t have to work forever for it.
Reality: The reality is that raising a child is expensive. The expenses start from that positive pregnancy test to college. Diapers, clothes that don’t fit every few months, formula, education, medical bills and so on are just a few things but can mount your expenses through the roof. However carefully you plan out your expenses, you are going to find an unexpected surprise. You will be browsing for rugs for sale instead of a high-priced designer one like you expected. The way to truly manage your money as a parent would be to prioritise your spending and draw up a family budget. However, it is important to talk things out and remove any building resentment as money matters can be an emotional journey.
Expectation: Like every parent, you expect your child to be the star of the school. Be it with sports or academics, or both, you expect your child to win trophies and score high.
Reality: By setting unrealistic expectations for your child, you are only preparing them for failure. Many children are facing mounting pressure from home, leading them to create negative impressions of themselves and lowering their self-esteem. It is important to set achievable expectations for your child, even if it is high. It will enable your child to strive towards achieving them. However, it is also important to be clear about your expectations. With each success your child achieves, appreciate it through positive affirmations. Of course, you will also experience some setbacks and the best thing to do then is to learn from them. It is also important to adapt to changing circumstances and mould your expectations to be realistic in nature. The way you react to setbacks will teach your child how to experience disappointments.
Expectation: You will travel to beautiful, exotic locations every chance you get. Your children and you are going to be so cultured. They will know the whole world like the back of their hands because they have been there.
Reality: Travelling with your child includes travelling to places that they will enjoy. Amusement parks will probably rank high on their list. Every place you go, you will first have to research activities for your child. The process of travel itself can be challenging. Cranky, bored children can be very hard to handle. Throw in motion sickness or diarrhoea and you have a real problem in your hands. As parents, travelling includes a new aspect of planning. Pre-travel medical check-ups to a whole bag of extra nappies and wipes, travelling with a child is not as easy as you might want it to be. It includes a whole lot of planning and spontaneity is your enemy.
Mayim Bialik, actress and neuroscientist, said: “I came to parenting the way most of us do – knowing nothing and trying to learn everything.” Parenting comes with big changes to the way you live your life. It is imperative to be prepared for these changes. It is also a skill you will learn over time. There is a lot of information out there on how to raise successful kids. While you do so, take into account their happiness, help them hone their strengths and let them make choices.