PREPARATION FOR PARENTHOOD

This week on Candles Online, we are discussing the importance of preparation in our lives. There are things that you can enjoy the most when you dive in head first, but for a majority of important events in our lives, we feel that we must prepare ourselves. Is parenthood one such event? Without doubt, yes. And yet, it often throws even seasoned parents into a conundrum.

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Source: Good Parentig Quotes

No matter how many books you read, or gyan you get from mothers around you, or prenatal yoga you do, nothing helps you get back on your feet faster than the thought of your newborn unattended. The stitches from my C-section still burnt with intense pain but one whimper from my daughter would make me spring up from my hospital bed. I wouldn’t entrust her feeds to anyone else. I’m sure many mothers will agree with me when I say that their mothering experiences were quite different from the one’s around them in certain aspects. The same goes for parenthood in general. No amount of research on being a parent is enough when you’re tackling a toddler who refuses to brush her teeth with ‘pink’ toothpaste and wants the ‘blue’ one instead. Aaaah, now there wasn’t anything about toothpaste choices in that book on parenting, was there? Don’t bother checking. There may be a thousand, no make that a million, other instances that the book doesn’t offer advice on. Why? Because every parent and every child is unique.

So should we not prepare for parenthood?

Of course, you must! While much of the learning about parenting happens on the job, there’s still a lot you can learn beforehand by observing others, through books, even through your own experiences as a child. For example, I am eternally thankful for the parenting books I read that acquainted me with the bowel movements of newborns, or else I may have had a heart-attack when I saw my daughter’s first few stools changing colours after every two days!

So yes, books, videos, the experiences of others, they all help you prepare, but the very first step in preparing for parenthood is preparing oneself, and by this I don’t mean buying things for the child, or redecorating your home to make it baby-proof, or going to the doctor or taking your health supplements on time; I mean preparing oneself emotionally to become a parent.

Two days back I talked to my best bud who is not a mother yet and we were discussing how some of our friends are second-time parents already, whereas she couldn’t conceive of being mommy to even one child because she thought she wasn’t prepared for it. What did she mean by that? Not prepared financially? Or her residence wasn’t baby-proof? Or that her career didn’t allow her to be a mother? It was all of that too, but mostly she meant that she wasn’t yet ready to take on the responsibility of taking care of a child. She wasn’t emotionally prepared.

Why is emotional preparedness important for being a parent when it’s your body and your pocket taking care of the child? It’s because biologically, after attaining puberty, most people can become parents very easily. Some are as young as just teenagers when they become first-time parents, but to be a good parent, one must be willing to take that responsibility and ensure that they will do their best to be good role models to their children. 

 

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Source: Pinterest

From what I have learnt after being a parent, parenting is all about being responsible, sacrificing and setting a good precedent for your child. Parenting is a lot of work and most of the time it’s a thankless job. Oh! also most of it is guesswork. Add to that, today’s definition of a parent does not limit itself to ‘someone who takes care of a child’ because the term ‘childcare’ itself means taking care of the physical, emotional, educational, financial and spiritual needs of a child. No wonder it’s a confusing experience for most first-time parents, but let me tell you, it isn’t any less confusing for second and even third, or fourth-time parents, because every child is unique! Again taking an example from my own life, my mother tells me, I gave her hell at mealtimes, and she fretted that my brother would turn out the same way, but he turned out to be an angel. So much for her parenting experience!

So if you are planning a family or are expecting a child in your world soon, the first thing to prepare is – yourself. Ask yourself if you’re ready. Ask your self if you will be devoted to your child – love him, nurture him, ignore his tantrums and bad habits, yet guide him on the right track to life and be a friend, mother, father, family, guide, teacher, protector and cheerleader to him for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. When you answer yes to all of the above, you’ll know your preparation for parenthood is almost done. Now go ahead, have fun being a parent and yes, you may now buy that cute dinosaur onesie! 😉

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Source: Pinterest

Featured Image: OnlineMommyDiva at Pixabay

IMPORTANCE OF PREPARATION

What does preparation mean, if we go just by the definition it simply means: “the action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration”, but is it as simple as this definition – it’s much more than that.

Imagine how chaotic life would be without preparation for the day, be it home (cooking, cleaning, laundry), work (meetings, presentations, targets to be achieved for the day) or kids (getting their stuff done, packing their lunch box, preparing their meals, driving them for classes etc.).

Preparation however is not a skill that can be taught or given knowledge on. It comes with practice and experience. My dad is the most organized person I have seen, he would plan days in advance and do his preparations accordingly. An effective way of doing this is to note down all your plans and make a note of the preparations you need to do to achieve the same.

Preparation is not just a task, it can be helpful in more ways than one for the person:

  1. Self-discipline: when a person is prepared for things in his/her life, they drive their life towards achieving the goal, hence it becomes imperative that the person follows certain routine and hence in the process becomes more disciplined in life.
  2. Confidence: when a person is prepared well enough to achieve the goal they have set, it becomes easier to achieve the goal, and hence the more they achieve the results or their goals, the more confidence they gain in life and hence more self-respect as well.
  3. Maturity: The more a person is prepared, the more logistically their brain functions. They see life through different aspects and situations and hence prepare accordingly, hence they can handle the real life situations in a better way than the normal.

However, having said all of the above, it is also obvious that no person can always be prepared for all the situations in life. Human mind and emotions direct us internally to be prepared for the so called ‘happy path’, but destiny might have different plans for each of us. Hence, no matter how well prepared we are, we should always be ready to change directions and planning towards the instant challenges that life throws at us. So as they say-

“Plan for the best but be prepared for the worst”.

HOPE FOR THE BEST BUT PREPARE FOR THE WORST

Life is beautiful, it feels like an adventure everyday. While all of it looks good, feels great, going in the right direction, there are times where we have to be prepared for the worst. What we plan for may or may not happen, and odds are bound to happen, putting us in situations we aren’t prepared for.  There are broadly two types of events in life, known and unknown.

Moving from high school to graduation, getting our first job, marriage, having kids, these are known events, the plan was laid and we have known these events would happen. Loosing a job, falling ill while we are on a financial set back, unwanted pregnancy, loss of loved one, breakups, we would have never known of these earlier than they could occur. 

Sudden change of plans due to unforeseen circumstances of life is a bitter reality. Everyone of us have setbacks, heart burns when such events happen. Most of us are wise to an extent that we plan for the expected, but we crumble when the unexpected happens. 

It has nothing to do with weak hearted or strong, it has to do with how we take what happens to us, how planned were we, more than plans how prepared we are.  Life has never been as they would have planned for any one who have ever lived. The reality of life is hard to accept, lot of people feel very apprehensive to even think that something wrong might happen, if we are afraid of thinking about it, how would we be prepared?

I have known a lady who is full of life, I was always puzzled at how amazing she is at handling the unexpected, she never even complains. She was an ace badminton player, in her academy everyone thought she would make it to international level some day, until she lost her left leg in an accident. A man fell in love with her, post marriage they discovered she can never have babies. An year and half after marriage she lost her husband in a plane crash. That’s life! Was she expecting all this? No… This is only one instance, there are many such instances all of us would have come across in family, friends or even in the news. Disasters happen, and often families are unaware of the future. The emotional drains of life are hard to handle. 

We will feel very stressed and fearful when such things happen. Often, it so happens that other people are busy with their own lives while we are fighting hard, our world has crashed down and everything else seems normal. It can be quite scary to think of the future. There are certain ways in which we can be prepared.

  • Be self-reliant: Soak in life’s lessons, when we raise kids we have to teach them everything. Like while we were in schooling, we have learnt so many subjects but we hardly put them to use, exposure is very important. Exposing ourselves to various skills, learning all that we can without being biased on how it is going to help us is very useful. 
  • Have a plan which has room for unforeseen: Life happens all of a sudden, leaves us with no time to react. When we plan we should always have a contingency or alternative plans, nevertheless we cannot plan for everything. 
  • Do not over prepare: While preparing is important, overdoing it is of no use. Some people continue to plan for ever and actually execute less. At times, we may feel we are not yet prepared to take the next step, it’s OK, there is a first day for everything and we would learn while we are on the job.
  • Live life as it unfolds: No amount of preparation can help some times, calm down, think through it and let life be. If it’s new, it is and the only thing we can do is to deal with it. We cannot run away or escape from it but face it.

I believe that everything in life happens for a reason, now we may not know it, but it has a definite place in the future.  Everything we go through prepares us for the next level.

“There is always a part of my mind that is preparing for the worst, and another part of my mind that believes if I prepare enough for it, the worst won’t happen.” 

― Kay Redfield Jamison

 

BY FAILING TO PREPARE YOU ARE PREPARING TO FAIL

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” – These are the words of Benjamin Franklin which ring true for people of all walks of life. Whether you are a sports person or an actor or a mother or a lawyer or a teacher preparation is a must for all.

Taking the time to prepare and plan is an essential part of being able to execute your aims. I’ve become more and more convinced that mindfulness and planning are keys to happiness.

It is very evident in the case of a sportsman. For him winning a game or match is not only because of the performance he gave on the field that day. But it’s actually the culmination of the preparation he did for days, months or years. He has to practice his game, prepare his body in terms of nutrition, strength and endurance to win in the actual game.

I would like to share a poem I found on the net about importance of practice and preparation in a sports person’s life.

Practice like you’ve never won,
In everything you do;
Success isn’t made overnight,
Let it be well done by you.

Perform like you’ve never lost,
Do all the best that you can;
No need for wasting time,
Show that you are the man.

Practice like you’ve never won,
Losing shall pull you down;
Exert extra effort to prevail,
Becoming a talk of the town.

Perform like you’ve never lost,
Don’t be scared to make mistake;
Learn lessons from failures
To taste the icing on the cake.

Discipline is all you need,
Days of negligence are gone;
Triumph tomorrow shall shine,
Practice like you’ve never won.

Bernard F. Asuncion

Another aspect of preparation is to be prepared to face any adversity or disaster in life. Plan ahead and don’t wait for the axe to almost fall before taking any action. Like the famous saying goes “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark”. He anticipated the approaching danger and started preparing for it. If he had started the work only after flooding had started then the whole mankind and animal kingdom would have been doomed. Preparing ahead is so important.

This kind of planning is a must in every routine work also.

  • Like it’s so much easier to face an exam in school or college if we have started studying or preparing for it many days in advance.
  • Early morning rush and routine is so much simpler and sorted if the menu of the school tiffin is already decided by the mother and preparation for the cooking is already done.
  • The office executive makes such a good impression in front of his boss if he has worked out all the facts and figures and the supporting documents for them. His preparation for the meetings goes a long way in helping him climb the corporate ladder.
  • If there is a cyclone warning in your area it makes life much easier if we are already prepared for power outages and got all the essential things stored with us.

This list is endless. Every single work we do needs some kind of planning, preparation and attention for details from our side. Otherwise it ends up being a sloppy work which no one appreciates.

Being a mother there is another kind of preparation that I have come across. Preparing someone emotionally to face the changes in their life. I think most mothers will relate to this. When the second child is about to come into this world the mother has to prepare the elder sibling emotionally to accept the new baby. Otherwise they end up considering the baby as their adversaries who are just hogging their mother’s attention and time.

Or when the child is going to join school for the first time the parents try to prepare the child for what to expect and also to be able to stay away from home for a few hours without a tearful meltdown. And I must say these preparations make the life so much easier for the toddlers their mothers and the teachers.

So in short I would just say “Fortune Favours the Prepared.” So be prepared.