Starting a family is a life-long commitment and it’s easy for parents to feel lost and confused. To paraphrase a popular saying, “A child is for life, not just for Christmas.” Yet, many parents can struggle to come to terms with the many requirements and responsibilities of family life.
The truth is: Nothing in your adult life prepares you for running a family. Thankfully, love and good intentions can go a long way.
But sometimes, it helps to have some guidelines you can refer to when you are feeling lost or confused — which is likely to happen because being a parent is a completely surreal experience.
I present the 7 commandments of family-proofing your life for parents who feel lost and confused. These tips/rules are loosely inspired by the 10 famous Commandments that most of us use in day-to-day life.
This might be your rule number one for every pregnancy, whether you are on your first one or you’re an experienced mother. The human body is not a Swiss cuckoo. In other words, while pregnancy is said to last 9 months or 40 weeks, it can be a completely different timing in real life. Most women will go into labor a week on each side of the term. Some women can be overdue.
Others can give birth to a healthy premature baby. You can never tell when your baby is going to come, which is why you need to start preparing for their arrival early during your last trimester. Essentials such as diapers, clothing, and receiving blankets will save you a lot of hassle. Many first-time mothers prefer to wait until the last moment to purchase newborn items.
However, if you wait too long, you may not have anything ready when your baby is ready to arrive. Ideally, you want to baby-proof your home towards the end of the second trimester and the first half of your last trimester.
At this point, the pregnancy is typically safe, and the fetus is viable. At around week 35, you might want to pack a hospital bag with all the necessary baby gear and items for yourself.
Not all families live in the typical American family home. However, when you expect a baby, you need to check real estate websites to find an appropriate location for your family. Many couples often live in small one-bedroom apartments in busy parts of the city.
Yet, with a child, it is not uncommon to want to move to quieter areas with easy access to schools and shops. Additionally, a child needs a bedroom, which means you have to consider properties to buy or rent to provide sufficient bedroom space for your family.
We’ve all known a parent who kept comparing their child against other children. If you grew up in an environment where your parents use comparisons to motivate you, chances are that you still compare yourself against others.
Do not compare your child with others. Comparing yourself against others is hurtful. It destroys your self-esteem and your self-confidence. Knowing how destructive comparison can be, protecting your child from going through similar pain is essential.
In the same vein of thinking, criticism can be a harmful approach to self-improvement. Everybody is bound to make mistakes at some point. And that includes your child too. Mistakes are part of a long learning journey. However, when mistakes are only met with criticism rather than fair compassion, the scars can affect your child’s development.
As a parent, you act as your child’s self-esteem compass. Teaching them what they did wrong and recognizing the reason for their behavior can be more productive than focusing on the mistakes. First of all, some mistakes are accidental and can occur as a result of their lack of experience. Others are caused by intentional behavior.
Yet, children are not equipped to recognize danger or the consequences of their acts. A compassionate approach can help them see the fault in their ways and correct it in the future. Indeed, when children are exposed to constant criticism, they learn to expect criticism from everybody else. This can contribute to developing future malaises as adults. For instance, imposter syndrome could be linked to frequent criticism during childhood.
Most parents have a financial plan for their children. Approximately two-thirds of parents save on average $18,000 for college tuition and expenses. According to student loan experts, families should aim to save more if they want to reduce the financial burden on their children. Therefore, if you plan on creating a saving strategy to help your child, you might want to seek professional financial advice. Experts recommend using the 529 plan, which can cover up to one-third of your college saving goals through earnings only. Additionally, side hustles and smart investment plans can also support your financial goals, helping your child experience college without debt worries.
Lying to your kids is something you do naturally as an adult. Why? Because some white lies are part of childhood culture, such as pretending that Santa brought their presents at Christmas. Besides, lying also works in most situations. How many parents have pretended to leave their kids at the playground in an effort to interrupt the never-ending games? Sure, the look of panic on their faces is cruel, but the bottom line is that it got your kids to follow you. Is lying harmful? The simple answer is: it can be. When you lie to avoid tantrums and disappointment, your children don’t learn to cope with social challenges. As a result, they can struggle to adjust as adults.
Children learn healthy habits from their parents. Introducing a healthy routine in your lifestyle can make physical activities, a balanced diet, and mindfulness a natural part of their everyday lives. Be the health role model your children need. Adults can find it hard to unlearn bad habits from their childhood.
It’s easy for parents to feel lost and confused. From emotional guidance to financial support, the better you identify your duties, the more relaxed you can be about being a good parent. Plus it helps if you and your partner can communicate well and work together in a supportive way. With this in mind…