I was recently asked by a good friend, what she could do to be prepared for parenthood. In a year or so, she and her husband want to try to have a baby and she wanted to know what to do in between then to get ready. This is what I told her...
You can't prepare for being a parent. I mean there is nothing that prepares you for the love and joy a baby brings you. You can read all the books and take all the classes but deep down you already know how to be a mom or a dad. God created us that way. He wrote it on our hearts. When you have a baby it is amazing the things you can do. Stuff you had no idea you could do... Losing sleep is hard. But so worth it! Explosive diapers and projectile vomit is the worst. But so worth it. I'm not saying that being a parent isn't difficult or that it's just all happiness all the time. I think sometimes social media can destroy parenthood. Everyone's pictures (mine included) capture the good moments. No one is taking pictures of the pee on the floor or the overflowing diaper pail. Being a parent is really really hard but that's ok because it's SUPPOSED to be. You take the good with the bad and do your best to live in the present moment.
Now I know it isn't my place to say when you should or shouldn't have a baby. But I will say that if you're waiting for the "perfect time" it doesn't exist. There is no perfect time to get married, have a baby, make a move, buy a house, take that new job etc. Sometimes you have to just have to jump in and see where life is about to take you! Obviously you should still be prudent, like if you just can't afford it then well... you just can't afford it! But when it comes to major life decisions (like having a baby) so much of it comes down to putting your trust in God. Things might not be perfect... but perhaps the blessing of a child is exactly what you need.
Some people like to own a house first or travel the world before having kids. Some people just want to make sure they're financially stable first and that's ok. But there isn't anything wrong with having kids right away either. Having Irish twins (within the first 2 years of marriage) is a challenge but I can barely remember life before them! I am so happy that I get to experience life from here on out with my two beautiful boys. Everything in life is sweeter because of them. When we travel, I want them to be there. When we buy our first house, I want them to pick out the paint color for their rooms. I don't regret having two babies so quickly. Not at all.
So. While all that sounds nice If you want some practical things to do....
-Spend time with a family that has kids. Offer to babysit while the parents go on a date night.
-Sit down with your spouse and go over your finances. Is it possible to have a baby at this time? What do you need to do financially to get ready?
-Spend time in prayer, asking God for the grace to be a good parent.
-Do research! Read up on things like breastfeeding vs. formula, vaccines, circumcisions, paper diapers vs. cloth etc.
-Read books on parenting. BUT don't take them completely to heart...every parent is different and you have to realize that your parenting style might be a little different. And that's ok! I suggest "Parenting with Grace". You can find it on amazon!
Finally... Just live for the present. Don't get caught in the past and don't waste energy worrying about things that haven't even happened yet. So go ahead... enjoy your baby fever!