While there is nothing in the world more rewarding than becoming a parent, there is no way to completely prepare for actually being a parent. Financial planning, researching how to be a parent, and planning on how life will change give future parents some expectations about what it is like to be a parent. It is a good idea for soon-to-be parents to have a plan, but the expectations of being a parent and the reality are very different.
Before becoming a parent, many people probably think that they have their finances all figured out. They expect a baby to cost a lot of money. Saving money for a baby is a great idea since there is a considerable amount of data about how much college will cost in eighteen years, what the cost of living will be over the next twenty years, and how much raising children costs every year. So many people work hard, get a good job and save, save, save. Some people save for years to become parents. They plan out how much is needed and save until it is time to have that baby they have been dreaming about.
The reality of it is, no matter how much money is saved, or how a person plans for the future financially, it is usually not enough. While having a solid financial plan is smart, there are too many unanticipated variables that come with having children. The job that was so perfect before becoming a parent is not ideal afterwards because working that many hours or being away from home is no longer an option. Soon, that cute little house that was just the right size before is too small, so moving is inevitable. Also, preparing for the first child is always a little easier than planning for child number two or three.
Children always bring unexpected costs with them. People plan for the doctor’s visits, clothes, food, etc. Then life happens. Unexpected costs happen all the time. One child gets sick and has to go to the hospital, which requires taking off work, or a child needs something specific for school, or daycare costs more than what was expected. There are too many contingencies to plan for all of the unexpected costs of having a child. However, even if it is difficult at times, a parent always figures it out no matter how difficult it may be.
Prior to becoming a parent, many people try to gain as much knowledge as they possibly can about becoming a parent. There are numerous books on the subject, many of which have great information about how to be a good parent. Also, family members and friends usually have a lot of advice on the topic. A person gets to hear the best way to get the baby to sleep through the night, what and what not to feed children, and how to discipline children, as well as many, many other popular topics people love to give advice on regarding parenting.
After reading the books and listening to numerous loved ones (and sometimes strangers) give advice most people think they have it all figured out. Realistically, nothing is a substitution for experience when it comes to parenting. While the advice and the research will help, no one can know what it is like to be a parent until they actually are one. No matter what a person thinks they know about late night feedings, children getting sick, temper tantrums, discipline, etc. no one ever truly knows anything about being a parent until they experience it. No child is the same either, so what may work for one child may not work for another one. Parents make many mistakes, but by doing what is best for their child and knowing what works for them, they will become experts on the subject and will most likely be giving their own advice to someone else someday. While most expectant parents know that they will have a little less time for themselves, they think that many aspects of their lives will stay the same.
A person most likely would plan on having the same friends after becoming a parent or still being able to buy the materialistic things that they want. Previous to becoming a parent, people anticipate that maintaining a social life will be a little more difficult after having children, but there will still be time for one on occasion. Also, many people assume that they will have no problem finishing school or furthering their careers. Future parents know that they will love their child, but there are other important things in life too.
Many people plan on still having it all even after becoming a parent. Someone who is already a parent knows there is no time for themselves. The surprising thing is that parents do not mind that at all. When a person becomes a parent, their whole world becomes about someone else. Truly, every part of a parent’s life changes in almost every way. Many friends, especially friends that do not have children, will no longer be around because there is no time for them anymore. Parents become different people after their child is born.
Different friends, usually other parents, are made. It may not be possible for a parent to go back to school or further their career for many years after a child is born. The materialistic things that a person thought that they wanted do not seem so important anymore. If it seemed vital to have that certain beautiful car before, a parent thinks, “Is it safe and practical? ” Having a social life on occasion is great but, at least for a few years, it is unrealistic and usually unimportant. The most satisfying part of a parent’s day is spending time with their child.
Most people never truly grow up until they become parents and start living their lives for someone else other than themselves. While it may be difficult to plan on the best way to become a parent, there is nothing better or more satisfying than being a parent. Creating a good parenting plan is smart but not crucial to becoming a great parent. Experience is what creates a great parent. Even when life is difficult, having children will be worth all the hard work. A child changes everything but there is nothing in the world more rewarding or fulfilling than being a parent.