“I thought I was prepared…” Can you ever be ready for your first child?

Though you read all the books and attend all the classes, can you ever truly be prepared for your first child?

I have heard so many first-time parents say ‘no one told me how it would actually be’.

I think the real question we need to ask ourselves is how on earth can you prepare for something so completely and utterly life-changing?

Maybe we need to break down what exactly makes it so life-changing. It seems like an easy answer—I have a child now whereas before I didn’t. Boom, life-changing. I think it is important to breakdown some of the multiple areas affected:

Priorities

Your life plan changed because you are suddenly not the star player anymore. You now have this little, beautiful bundle of joy, but this bundle of joy is completely reliant on you. There is no other living creature in the animal kingdom that is so reliant on its parents for so long. This is a big realisation and can be quite overwhelming. They are now your #1 priority.

Physical

Child birth alone will affect you physically. You need to be kind to yourself here. You need to understand what individually happened to you and how that interacts with everything else at this point in time. You will be physically exhausted. Sleep is a thing of the past. Lack of sleep will instantly drain you of your capacity to cope with things. Account for this when you find that you are being hard on yourself.

Relationships

Relationships will evolve. The top two points will make sure of that. We want to go into this period of our life understanding this and believing that this is not a bad thing, in fact it can be beautiful. This includes our relationship with our significant other, but we should be aware that this may also affect our relationship with friends and family.

Self-doubt

There is no manual. Every situation is different, every child is different and everything is constantly changing. Plus, we are inundated with information, rule and, advice. This can be overwhelming and can lead to feelings of self-doubt.

Identity

We don’t talk about the fact that it is ok to miss your pre-child life. You have undergone e a very big shift in identity. You are now a parent. There may be big shifts in your career, which can affect how you see yourself and this can be very tough. One of the reasons it is hard to prepare for this time in our lives is that none of these changes occur in a silo. They are all competing for time, mental and emotional space at the same time. So, remember that it will take time to adjust to becoming a parent, to having this new little dependent person(s) requiring your undivided attention, but that’s ok, you have created something beautiful. Congratulations!

There will be many highs to come. Don’t stress too much about parenthood, there’s no ‘right’ way of doing it, and there are many support mechanisms that you can lean on.

Parentline is one of them and we’re here seven days a week. Call us on 1300 30 1300 or jump online at Parentline.com.au.

By Kimberley Harper, Parentline Manager