The Unexpected Stress of Being A Parent |AD

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When you first begin the journey that is parenthood, there are certain expectations that you have about how life will be with a child. You know that there are going to be sleepless nights, tears and worries about coughs and colds. You know there will be issues with teething, weaning and toilet training. You know there will also somewhat inevitably be issues with bickering and sharing toys when you have more than one child, and the bumps and bruises that ensue with learning to walk.

You know there will be magical moments – first smiles, giggles, and sitting up for the first time. The first word, the first step, the first time reading a book properly; it is these times that make all the stress fade away and everything else takes a back seat. But let’s not forget that there are certainly tough times, too: housework and chores, being on time for anything, introducing routines, eating healthy food, brushing teeth and going to bed – all of these add to a parent’s stress levels.

What you don’t always expect, though – especially if you’re a first-time parent – is the seemingly eternal stress that surrounds education. Of course, it is an incredibly important aspect of any child’s life, but long gone are the days of the most important decision being which university offers the best prospects! These days, you can have just as hard a time getting into a pre-school as you can a prestigious university – and that’s if you can get on the waiting list in enough time for your little one to start.

I have read stories about people prospectively putting their child’s name down on a waiting list for a pre-school as soon as they were born – which to some may seem a little excessive; while to others, it may seem like a prudent move in order to secure the best education for their child. Whatever your stance on the matter, it’s hard to disagree that this is one of the stresses in life that you didn’t consider before becoming a parent.

When it comes to these decisions, though, I find it helps to look at the bigger picture. While going to university isn’t for everyone, having the choice to go should be something all our children get to decide. In this instance, the end goal – while a good 18 years away from now – is to get into the university of choice, so the decisions you make now will all have an affect on how you get to your end goal.

If choosing a pre-school years in advance, joining waiting lists for primary education and reading up on how to get into Harvard University is how you want to help your child get the very best out of life, then, to me, you’re just being the very best parent you can be.

The best way to avoid all of this become yet another source of stress, though, is to be prepared! When you face a situation understanding that you can’t always control the outcome, it becomes easier to manage. Prepare for the decisions that lie ahead in the best way that you can and have a contingency plan to fall back on.

These days, kids are put under an incredible amount of stress themselves from quite a young age, especially when it comes to academia and education. SAT testing and the pressure of GCSE grades can be quite overwhelming for them, so I think the most important take away from all of this is to understand that this isn’t the be all and end all, it is just one option available. After all, life is already stressful enough, so let’s do our bit to remove stress where possible!

What unexpected stresses have you found since becoming a parent?

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