There are many hilarious lists about how to prepare to be a parent, including, “If you plan on driving while being a parent, borrow three orangutans (ask for strong-willed ones) from your local zoo. Put them in rear-facing car seats. Keep your eyes on the road,” (Bunmi Laditan) and, “Ask your partner to shout out a song title relentlessly until you put it on for them every time you’re backing your car out of a busy parking lot. Instruct them to repeat this for four years and never change song titles.” (Brandy Ferner)
I’d like to offer my own list to pregnant parents. It’s not a list of which interview questions to ask of your provider. It’s not a list of reasons that “breast is best.” It’s not a list of top baby products to buy. I think parents receive enough training from society on how to be a patient, or consumer, or upholder of a parenting philosophy.
Rather, this list is about the personal transformation involved in becoming a mother, father, or parent. The internal shift that occurs when you cross the threshold from your old self to the brand new self who will be born when you look into your baby’s eyes. How do you prepare to leave behind the person you are today and step into the unknown? Over the coming weeks I’ll be bringing you more ways to prepare soulfully for parenthood.
#1: Allow yourself time and space to be playful.
Pregnancy can feel like an intense time when you have to grow up and get your sh*t together. You have to research the best car seats and decide if you want to hire a doctor, a midwife, a doula, and a birth photographer. And don’t forget to write that birth plan!
While parents may find value in some or even all of these tasks, how does it prepare you to be gentle with yourself when you have a tiny person in your care and you don’t know what to do next? How does it help you when you suddenly realize that you have a lot less free time than you had before…and didn’t realize you had before? Or when your baby becomes a toddler and wants you to get down on the floor and play dinosaurs?
Dancing, journaling, wrestling with your partner in bed (hold the jokes about how you got into this situation in the first place), walking in nature, and creating art can help your brain waves slow down. This slowing down can bring new ideas and insights about how to work through the challenges of pregnancy and parenting, and restore your mind from the stress of day-to-day life as a pregnant person.
Getting in touch with your innocent self can bring a sense of lightness to the major changes that come with the early baby days. You may find it a little easier to laugh about the absurdity of being awake until 6 am with the baby if you have invited silliness and humor into your life already.
You may find that you are more resourceful with the free time that comes your way when you already know what brings you delight and allows you to slip into a timeless space, whether that’s through adult coloring books, playing an instrument, or going for a swim. When a parent can step into a place of self-indulgence, they can return to their family refreshed, renewed, and ready to take on what’s coming next.
When you begin to explore what playfulness looks like for you in pregnancy, it can ease that transition back down to the floor – the world of young children – when you’re playing with your little one. It can be easier to connect with their child-like behavior when you can find compassion and even value in that part of yourself.
How do you create space for play and innocence in your life? What changes for you when you get in touch with your youthful, innocent self?
Certified Birthing from Within Mentor and Doula
Birth Story Listening Trainer