So you're thinking about having a baby...
That's awesome. I'm glad.
Being a parent is the BEST thing ever. It changes you - for the better. Having children awakens your heart to the truest form of love. It teaches you patience, kindness, goodness, gratitude, and self-control. It may be overwhelming sometimes (oftentimes...), but it is 100% worth it.
As you prepare for the biggest adventure of a lifetime - the wildest ride, the most wonderful of miracles - consider these 5 tips:
1. Go to school. Prior to having kids, I earned a Bachelors degree in English and a Masters degree in Counseling. I loved school - the collaborative learning, the lectures, the debates. The world of academia speaks to my soul.
That said, I'm so glad that I completed all of that education before breastfeeding, babywearing, and singing the ABCs.
I'd like to go back now and get my PhD, but I feel "torn" between two worlds. I would love to be a professor, doing research and inspiring the minds and hearts of the next generation's leaders. More importantly, however, I want to inspire the minds and hearts of the two little girls that live in my house (and who mean the world to me).
I do realize that it is possible to be a college student and a mom (kudos to those who are pursuing that route)...but it's a lot easier if you can cram for tests, write papers, and read thick books before a baby enters the picture.
And speaking of pictures...
2. Invest in a good camera + take a photography class. Maybe photography isn't really your "thing." Three words: It Will Be. As soon as you see your baby's flawless skin, sparkling eyes, and toothless smile, you'll be a picture-taking maniac. You'll take pictures of chubby thighs, big yawns, and teeny tiny toes. And you'll wish that you could take better pictures with a better camera. Do it now - while you have the time and the money. Buy a DSLR. Sign up for a photography class. Read your camera manual. Become a photography pro.
3. Get fit. NOW is the time. Put away excuses. Start biking, running, swimming, hiking, anything. What's that you say? You're too busy with your 9-5 career, your friends, your fun? Not to burst your bubble or anything, but you don't know what busy is...yet. If you can teach yourself to make time now, it will be easier later. Besides, it's way easier to go into a pregnancy fit and toned than it is to start your pregnancy with extra weight and less endurance. Plus, labor is kind of like a marathon (really). Being fit is bound to make your experience better.
4. Travel the world. Pack your bags and plan a trip to Australia, Africa, or Asia. Do something humanitarian while you're at it. Drop everything and leave for a month or two. Those kind of experiences will shape your life and alter your perspective. And you should do it now - before you have kids. Your job is important, but life experiences like this are more important.
5. Take a road trip around the US. You're not the world-hopping type? Well, you should really put your fears aside and go abroad anyway. If you can't be convinced to do that, then at least hop into the car with your spouse and see as many states as possible. Visit friends. See the sights. Help people along the way. Traveling pre-kids is the easiest so take advantage of spontaneity now. You can still travel after kids, of course, but it will be...different. It will involve car seats and crying and naptimes and meltdowns. Just think about all of the things you have to look forward to (ha!).
Other things to do before you have kids: buy/rent a house in a pedestrian-friendly community, strengthen your marriage every day, turn off the TV, and learn to appreciate the small things.
Before you know it, you're going to be a parent (congrats). Until then, relax, laugh a lot, and love others. All of those things are important skills you'll want to have when your little one eventually enters your life.
YOUR TURN: What other tips would you give to your pre-preg friends?