You can read every book on parenting and join all the Facebook mommy and daddy groups but when the time comes and you start raising kids, they will undoubtedly find a way to surprise you. Every. Single. Day.
Want to admire your boy playing with his toy? Too bad, he breaks your front tooth in half. Won't let your girl keep a handful of coins in her mouth? Get ready for a furious meltdown. At least you now have a story for the Internet.
As a follow-up to our previous list, we at Bored Panda have compiled a set of photos that perfectly sum up parenting in just a single frame. Enjoy!
Vicki Broadbent, a writer, director, broadcaster, and founder of the parenting blog Honest Mum, told Bored Panda that it's important to have realistic expectations when it comes to first-time parenthood. "I naively thought that my first born would be some sort of fun accessory I could dress up and play with when in reality all babies are hard work and parenting a baby—while joyful—is equally tedious and tiring," the author of The Working Mom: Your Guide To Surviving and Thriving At Work and At Home said.
"All they do in the early months is eat, sleep and poop. You as a mother will also be undergoing great physical and mental changes post-birth and those coupled with sleep deprivation will be tough-going."
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This might sound scary, but when you know what to expect, you can begin to prepare yourself for it. "My advice is to create a parenting self-aid kit for emotional and physical wellbeing spanning meditation apps (I like the free Insight Timer)," Vicki said.
Get yourself a set of short but effective mindful exercises, a stocked freezer full of healthy and filling meals, and a support network you can rant, cry and share with (on and offline), and you're good to go. "It takes a village to raise a child and a village to raise a mother."
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Psychologist Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D., acknowledged that becoming a first-time parent can have a dramatic impact on many people, both in terms of the stress they experience and the impact that it has on marital satisfaction and emotional well-being.
"New parents can report considerable stress for different reasons," he wrote. "Along with the added financial burden of a new child, new mothers and fathers often experience significant conflict between work and family life along with realizing that becoming a parent means taking on a lifelong responsibility."
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Vitelli also mentioned an interesting study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. According to the paper, for new moms and dads who have problems with forming attachments, the stress involved in making the transition to being a parent is especially high.
They usually have a history of poor relationships and are often loners who have difficulty asking others for help.
Since they are uncomfortable acting as caregivers, taking care of an infant is particularly difficult for them. Furthermore, they also get less satisfaction from their children than most new parents and are more likely to focus on their work while leaving most of the childcare duties to their partners. Since gender differences play a strong role in how attachments are formed, men are more likely to avoid attachments than women.
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If you're a parent, conflicts (both inner and outer) are inevitable. But it's how you deal with them that matters the most. After all, problems provide not only a headache but also an opportunity to grow. "As psychotherapist and author Philippa Perry advocates in her excellent bestselling book, The Book You wish Your Parents Had Read (And Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did), you need to recognize that your reactions/triggers to your children are usually reflective of experiences in your own childhood," Vicki Broadbent added.
"When you recognize this and treat yourself with compassion, you can change your responses to your children. With every stage of childhood, you will come across new challenges but taking a breath so you can respond rather than react, is key."
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Vicki said that the more you practise this, the more you can rewire your brain to take a measured, calm response. It's something she is constantly working on with an 11-year-old child experiencing puberty herself.
"I do believe the kinder you are with yourself, the more understanding you will be with your kids and everyone else. It's a privilege and a joy to raise children but it's also a huge responsibility. Cut yourself some slack. Perfect parenting doesn't exist, simply try your best, apologize when you fail, always be honest and empathetic."