Now that my due date is officially only 1 month away (eeks!), we're in full-on prep mode over here. In between finishing up the last details of the baby room and my ever growing belly, I just can't wrap my mind around the fact that our baby boy is going to be here in a matter of weeks. I mean, how surreal is that? During my pregnancy, I consciously tried to stay away from an overload of baby-related books and horror birth stories from strangers, because I knew they would only freak me out. However, looking back, there are definitely some things that have helped me so much with picturing myself as a mama. So if you're currently expecting a little one yourself, or are hoping to one day, these are the 5 things to do to prepare yourself for parenthood!
1 / TAKE IT FROM YOUR PARENTS & GIRLFRIENDS
The no. 1 thing that has helped me feel super excited (instead of totally freaked out) about becoming a parent has been talking about motherhood with my loved ones. Telling my parents that their first grandchild was on the way, witnessing their pure joy and excitement, was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I've always been very close to my family, and both the always-spot-on advice from my mama and homemade waffles from my papa (the only thing I could eat during the first months of my pregnancy!) have been heartwarmingly essential to me throughout this entire journey. The same goes for my sweet mama-girlfriends, who have been there for me to answer every possible awkward question, from whether it's normal that you have to use the bathroom every 2 seconds once you hit your third trimester (yes) to if it's okay to travel with a newborn (totally). So rather than plowing through a gazillion baby books: take it from your inner circle!
[Side note: the one book I actually did read (and loved) is Ik Word Mama by Sofie Vanherpe. It's sweet and playful, and I'd totally recommend it for every Dutch speaking mama-to-be out there :)]
2 / PINPOINT YOUR ANXIETIES (AND TALK ABOUT THEM!)
I'm not a super anxious person by nature, but being pregnant confronted me with a whole new set of fears that I had never felt before. What if the baby cries non-stop for the first 2 years of his life? What if he doesn't like me? Will we able to fit him into our busy lives without stressing him (or ourselves!) out? The list goes on and during the first months (when I had waaay too much forced couch-time) it literally drove me crazy. And what made things even worse is that I felt so self-conscious to talk about it, as if it would make me a bad parent. But, as I finally opened up to one of my besties, she assured me that it's just a natural part of our mother instincts to start experiencing all these irrational fears. She persuaded me to start seeing them as a good thing, that kind of prevent us from throwing our babies around when they've been crying 3 days in a row. :) So while it may be challenging if you're not used to it: try to pinpoint the anxieties that come with this totally new experience in your life and talk them through, no matter how uncomfortable that initially makes you feel. I promise you'll feel so much better after!
3 / TACKLE YOUR BABY TO-DO LIST BY FOLLOWING THE TOP-3 METHOD
As you know, I'm blessed with a crazy busy monkey mind (and I know I'm not the only one), that usually wakes me up around 6am - weekend or no weekend. Now that my night rest has become so important and challenged by our active Brazilian baby, I knew I had to come up with a way to relax my mind and release it from as much to-do stress as possible. The top-3 method has been a lifesaver for that, and it's as simple as this: every 3 days, make a little list of the top-3 priorities from your general to-do list and tackle 1 of those every day. And that's it! It's so easy, and it has made a HUGE difference in dealing with all the baby prep. Because, as it turns out, it's not the content of the to-do list that scares us, but rather the magnitude. So if you narrow it down to just a few points it suddenly seems totally doable.
4 / THINK ABOUT YOUR BABY AS A FUN PERSON
This may sound totally weird, but in between all the anxieties and gigantic to-do list, it might at some point become tempting to forget that your baby most likely will be a super awesome human being. If you're a worst-case-scenario-person as me, you'll probably want to prepare yourself for a non-stop screamer that prevents you from sleeping for the rest of your life, but chances are that to the contrary, he's just going to be a great person who's really fun to hang out with - basically a teeny tiny version of yourself and the love of your life. That doesn't sound so bad now, does it?
5 / REMIND YOURSELF OF YOUR NO. 1 GOAL AS A PARENT
It's easy to get caught up in all the tasks you'll have to fulfil as a new parent, especially if you're a perfectionist. So for me, it really helped to focus on the bigger picture and my no. 1 goal as a mama: to have a happy open-minded child who is as fearless as can possibly be. Once you have this goal in mind, it's much more doable to connect specific parenting tasks to it, such as showing him new places and people from an early age on, while still making him feel safe and secure. And don't forget to have all the fun along the way!
What did you do to prepare yourself for parenthood? And did it turn out as you expected? I'm super curious to hear! :)