There is no book or class out there to prepare you for the adventures you are about to endure as a parent.
While today’s popular culture encourages reproduction after you have gotten all the desires of weekend drinking, monthly getaways, great sex, promotions and binge-shopping out of the way, sometimes life throws us a curveball.
At this point, you will probably freak out. You will most likely cry and feel hopeless. It’ll feel like you didn’t live life to its fullest and you aren’t ready.
I assure you, all those symptoms are totally normal after discovering that in just nine short months, you will be the parent of another human.
No one is ever ready to take on the role of a parent; something will always come up, and things will happen that need to be done before you are, in fact, “ready.”
I myself have been there; at the tender age of 23, I got the news that I was going to be the mother of two little babies I was not planning, nor was I ready for.
Now I’m taking on my second year as “mom” and have come up with a compilation of advice for all the other young parents who feel the way I did before taking the plunge. Trust me, you’re going to need to know this stuff.
1. Raising a child is difficult, regardless of how old you are.
There is no one on the face of this earth who has ever been able to say parenting was a walk in the park. Regardless of if you are 14 with a baby, or 52 having your seventh baby, parenting is strenuous.
It will drain you of all your efforts, patience, tears and sweat. Although the 52-year-old mom may have more wisdom than the 14-year-old one, I promise you, it will be the most difficult job you will ever take on, regardless of how long you have lived.
2. Time flies.
There really aren’t enough hours in the day, so the art of time management is probably one of the most important lessons parenthood can offer.
Time is of the essence when you are a parent. In the blink of an eye, your day will be over, and in the next blink, your children will no longer need you to change their diapers or remind them to brush their teeth.
3. You will get the chance to be a kid all over again.
Evenings spent watching Disney movies or reading scary stories with a flashlight in a homemade fort are way better than drinking overpriced, watered-down drinks at a sweaty bar with intoxicated people.
The time you spend with your children is so valuable, so embrace those moments. Lose yourself in the stories you read to them and play cops and robbers like you used to back in the day.
4. Your friendships will change. The people you end up spending your free time with are different than who they used to be.
Now that you are a parent, your filter for friends becomes pickier. Is it a good idea to hang out with that one friend who’s usually drunk by 5 o’clock?
You start to consider what kind of people you want to raise your kids around, and it’s usually the people who are responsible, have kids themselves or are older.
5. Patience is one of the best qualities a person can have.
It takes a lot of it to raise a human being. You will be surprised how much patience you will accrue when you have children of your own.
In order to keep your sanity through the career of parenting, it is an utmost requirement to have it, or at least to be able to fake.
6. Children learn from example.
Kids will watch everything you do. They notice the way you treat others and how you treat yourself. The way you react to the struggles in life will be a lesson to them.
So, before you decide to yell at their dad for not taking out the trash last night, remember that children look up to their superiors.
Don’t forget to wear that superhero cape with pride.
7. Having children so young impacted my career goals.
Becoming a parent before you have found your identity is tough. It can add more obstacles to your path, making your goals harder to reach. On the contrary, it does give you this incredible amount of motivation to accomplish what most think is out of reach.
There is nothing more satisfying than being a working mom with a degree that took hard work and sacrifice, while still having the ability and the time to give your children all the nurture and love they need.
8. Money doesn’t grow on trees.
You have to work for it and save it for a rainy day. We don’t realize it until we are financially responsible for someone else’s present and future. Investment plans and 401(k)’s are much more important than they used to be.
Instead of blowing your paycheck on new shoes and passes to all the cool concerts coming into town, you now have to think about having enough money to feed, clothe, entertain, educate and house another person — or two.
9. There is no such thing as privacy anymore.
You better get used to being walked in on while taking a crap and being stared at while you do your business. Let’s not forget to make sure you lock the door when you’re getting down in the bedroom because they will walk in on that, too.
Your kids will want to follow you everywhere, so get used to it. Set some boundaries because that’s the perfect opportunity to teach your children the value of respect and self sufficiency.
10. Other parents will respect you and admire you for your efforts, especially the older ones.
Although you might come across scum bags who judge you for your parenting habits or for becoming a parent so young (they usually are the ones who have no children), you will come across the kind of people who understand your struggle and applaud your efforts.
It feels good to have your own mom compliment you for your talents of being such an awesome parent.
11. It takes a lot of sacrifice.
As a parent, you give up so much, but you get even more in return. Life no longer revolves around you, and you can no longer come and go as you please.
In order to be there for your kids and support them, you sometimes have to make selfless decisions. Just remember, those little people you are raising are counting on you. Just that thought makes the journey all worth it.
12. You will cram in most of your adult things during their naps and bedtime.
Children are abnormally charged with a vast amount of energy that will drain your entire day. Take advantage of the time they spend sleeping.
Catch up on Netflix, do some yoga or eat some of the chocolate you have been hiding. This time is your time, so use it wisely.
13. You will never master parenting, and you never stop learning.
You will never master the job of parenthood. Just when you have one thing down, another comes up. There’s always a new challenge or a new conflict, and your mastered skills quickly become obsolete with a growing toddler.
You will never feel like you are ahead of schedule or on top of things, so just relax.
14. What other people think of you doesn’t matter as much.
Remember when you worried about what others thought or said about you? Well. you won’t have time for that anymore. You’ll be more worried about preventing your children from falling victim to the wrong crowd or doing your best to teach them to see the beauty of this world.
Life is too short to waste on worrying about opinions of others. Remember, what Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally. Teach your kids that by setting the example.
15. You will catch yourself doing things you secretly judged other parents for before you became one.
Remember when you used to judge the moms who would send their kids off for the day with their breakfast in a ziplock bag filled with dried cereal?
Parenthood is now a judgment-free zone because you will be the one doing those absurd things. Those things don’t seem so bad now that you are in the parenting club, do they?
16. You learn how to be a parent by actually being one.
It’s like riding a bike or learning how to swim; you cannot learn it by reading a manual or consulting an expert. Learning how to be a parent is a lesson learned in its own course.
You will make mistakes, and you will suffer sometimes. No one is a perfect parent, so accept yourself for the best you can be and enjoy your time as being someone’s mom or dad.
17. At some point in your role as a parent, you will accidentally hurt your child and you will feel absolutely terrible about it.
It is bound to happen with all the bouncing and running and madness they get into. Just brush it off and try not to laugh in front of them.
18. Getting ready to leave the house will require 10 times more effort and 100 times more planning than it ever used to.
Taking a trip to the post office to drop off a letter is going to feel like a mission, so you better begin planning it beforehand. Seriously, forget the days when going to the gym only required you to bring water and headphones.
Make sure you have the capacity to carry a diaper bag loaded with the essentials that equip you for any accidents or tantrums that may occur at the daycare center.
Don’t forget the snacks, sippy cups, blankets and an extra arm to carry your children into the building because they may not feel like walking today.
Just getting into the gym is enough to say you completed your workout for the day.
19. It is harder than you thought it would be, but you wont even notice.
Everyone says it: Parenting is hard; get ready for your life to change.
There are so many other words of advice I have gotten from just about everyone in regard to what I got myself into. They were right; my life has changed. I have become a different person, but I hardly even noticed it happening. It just did, and I was able to handle it like a champ.
20. Life will still be awesome.
It may not be the same kind of awesome you are used to, and it’s natural for it to suck sometimes, but the good will overpower the bad.
Your life will take on a completely different meaning. You will become a hero in someone’s eyes and that someone will be calling you mommy (or daddy).