What to do if you feel unprepared for parenthood

Do you feel like parenthood is going to be a disaster? It’s OK to admit it. It’s the biggest responsibility someone can take on in their life. Feeling like you’re going to get it wrong is not uncommon. 

That doesn’t mean you don’t want to be a parent. You’re happy to become a parent – in fact, you’re ecstatic about it! But you’re not sure if you’re going to be any good as a parent. You don’t feel prepared, or like you even know the first thing to do when the baby comes along. 

That’s why we’re going to let you in on a little secret: no one knows! Even when it’s the third or fourth time round and you’ve done it all before. Parenthood is a balancing act, and each child has their own needs – that’s hard to prepare for! But even so, if you feel like you’re not ready, these are the points you should keep in mind. 

You’re Not in This Alone

You’re not the first parent to feel like you’re unprepared for raising a child, and you certainly won’t be the last either. You should be able to find plenty of other new parents out there who can share in the feeling – becoming a part of these circles can do wonders for your self esteem right now. 

Good parents come in all shapes and sizes, and all of them felt unprepared at some point in their lives. Admitting it, talking about it, and remembering that there is understanding out there will really help right now. 

Make Some Parent Friends

Following along from our first point, it’s time to make some new parent friends! People who are either waiting for their little bundle of joy to arrive or are two months deep into the process of raising a newborn. These are the people who know how you’re feeling most intimately, and you’ll be able to talk to them openly and honestly. 

It’s in these conversations where you’ll really feel like you’re not alone. You might even have a laugh together – sometimes new parent mistakes can be quite funny! And one day you’ll be able to look back on similar moments and realise that all the nerves you were feeling were for nothing. 

It’s OK to Make a Mistake

Making mistakes is part of life. You’re going to make them all the time, and it’s not going to be a disaster when you do. Even as a parent with a newborn who feels wholly unprepared to handle them, a mistake is OK. 

Maybe you put their nappy on backwards, maybe you even forget to feed them at the right time – it happens! It doesn’t mean you’re disorganised and unprepared. It’s simply a reminder that you’re human and no one is perfect. 

Even when you go online and see heavily edited and curated mummy pages, remember that none of it is really real. It’s hard to avoid them online these days, but they’re never a real glimpse into another mother’s reality. Reminding yourself of that can do wonders. 

Not Everything Will Be a Medical Emergency

Sometimes babies have little problems – they’re not things to panic about, and not everything is going to be a massive medical emergency. Diaper rash, for example, doesn’t mean your baby has contracted a terrible disease! You just need to do a bit of research into the types of diaper rash and what it means about your baby’s hygiene routine. 

It’s always OK to talk to a doctor about your worries, but nine times out of ten, your baby is going to be just fine. And the more your baby cries and grizzles and makes you worry, the better you’re going to get at spotting potential medical emergencies. It takes time, and you’ve got plenty of that right now. 

You Don’t Have to Know Everything Right Now

Parenthood is a learning curve. It would be unnatural if you instantly knew the right way to react whenever your baby started crying! You’re not a failure for not knowing what your baby needs at all times, and once again, it takes time to figure out what an ‘I’m hungry’ cry sounds like. 

Once you can spot the difference, you’re going to feel like the most experienced person in the world – you just need to be patient. We know it feels easy to say that right now, but once you have the benefit of hindsight, you really will be able to say it as well. 

You’re going to learn a lot in a short amount of time, and even day by day you might not feel like the same person you once were. 

Reach Out for Medical Support

It’s not just a baby that needs help to get through the day. Parents often need a bit of support as well. 

A lot of new parents, and specifically new mothers, struggle with anxiety levels and racing thoughts after the birth of a baby. Whilst a level of this is normal – you’ve got a fragile baby to take care of – it shouldn’t impact your ability to be the parent you want to be. 

If you’re struggling, you can talk to a doctor about what you’re thinking and feeling. They could recommend therapy, medication, or a combination of both, and it’s not a bad thing to take them up on it. 

Feeling Unprepared? Then You’re a Parent! 

Being a parent is all about facing the day with courage. You don’t have to know it all, and you certainly don’t have to be perfect at it either! You’re allowed to make mistakes and reach out for support, and it’s OK to break down and cry sometimes too. 

If you don’t feel prepared, remember: you’re not in this alone and there’s all kinds of support out there. It takes a village, even in the 21st century! When you do best for you, you do best for your baby as well, and that’s what makes a good parent in the end. 

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