Becoming a parent doesn’t have to be an upheaval in the negative sense of the word – it can be a catalyst for positive change. Life coach Nadia Scrooby shares some pointers.

Becoming a parent changes your life, so why not make changes for the better? Here are five great habits that both mom and dad can start during pregnancy and continue into parenthood.

1. Rest

It seems to me that all the parents I have worked with are divided into two groups relating to advice they have received. One group usually says no one warned them, no one told them that they would get tired beyond any previous experience. The other group says that everyone told them to get enough rest – and they are tired of hearing they will get tired.

The truth is that the change in sleeping patterns, less sleep, disrupted sleep, the lack of freedom to sleep when you want to, and the responsibility of taking care of a baby, amounts to exhaustion on a whole new level.

So it’s important to rest enough during pregnancy, because in utero, your baby is aware of your patterns from being active, to being calm. Rest is much needed during pregnancy as well as in the first few years of parenting.

Rest does not only include naps or sleep, it also means winding down, mind-wandering, finding quiet moments, meditation, unplugging and quality down-time. It is important to know that rest happens intentionally.

Determine your rest needs, communicate it to your partner and take care of yourself, to be able to care for each other and for a precious baby.

2. Rituals

A mom’s nurturing rituals happen instinctively during pregnancy, but as with rest, both parents need to intentionally implement rituals. Rituals should not only include caring for your body, but also caring for your mind and your spirit, from drinking enough water, to date nights, to daily spiritual quiet time.

Physical rituals may include personal hygiene, an exercise regime, health check-ups and a good diet. Rituals for a healthy mind may include positive self-talk, quality time with loved ones, affirmation exercises and calming your fears. Spiritual rituals may include religious study, prayer, faith group meetings and various reflection activities.

Creating new rituals, like eating a home-cooked meal at the dining table, have benefits beyond just meal-time. The holistic enjoyment enriches body, mind and spirit. Be sure to keep your rituals alive from a caring hug to creating a household.

3. Routine

Routine should start during your pregnancy. Creating a routine while pregnant makes it easier for both parents and babies to adjust to life after birth. It creates boundaries, stability and order. Routine creates an unspoken rhythm, a harmony that makes a household a home.

The lack of creating a routine can make parents compromise on priorities and a child can become uncertain and unsafe. Routine also creates control, which is essential for optimal brain development.

Your routine should be implemented, established and sustained. Maintaining routine creates stability and trust. The great news, even if routine hasn’t been established in your home, is that it is never too late. Start today and reinforce the pattern of sequence, and be mindful of the natural flow of events to support a natural transition into routine.

4. Resourcefulness

Pregnancy is a great time in your life, where your support system becomes evident. Experiencing resourcefulness, which is greater than only your support system, brings calm to your chaos and confidence to your challenges.

Become aware of your limiting beliefs and be done with them. Replace them with recognising how resourceful you are. Count your blessings and confront your shortfalls. Along with your support system of family and friends, join antenatal classes, parenting support groups, professional guidance and online forums. If you are in need of support, ask for it. This can be as simple as contacting a company to assist you with UIF and maternity leave or contacting a certified lactation consultant to guide you with breastfeeding.

If you need time out, ask for it. Call Granny or call the nanny. If you are in need of pampering, go for it, or phone a travelling spa therapist if you want to stay in. During pregnancy, start to identify your needs, met by your support system and resourcefulness; continue to do so as a parent. It is always in your and your child’s best interest.

5. Read

Read as much as you need! Some parents really have to read a lot to set their minds and hearts at ease, from hospital check-lists to product reviews, and everything in-between. The key to overcoming information overload is to learn to read with discernment – see the similarities and the differences when reading about pregnancy and parenting. Your gut feeling will guide you as to whether Google is helpful to you, or not.

Books, magazines ans online article in all forms will be both supported and contradicted – if you are looking for an answer, you will find it. There are great reads out there, like this publication you are reading right now. Read trusted material from credited publishers and you may just find more confirmation than confusion.

Great parenting mentors have written excellent books, available to all of us who are willing to learn. Being a first-time parent is not something you are familiar with and I firmly believe that parenting books are fascinating! Keep diagnosis to the professionals and keep reading with the intention to empower yourself as a parent.

Making changes and starting good habits may take a lot of repetition. Each good habit formed now during your pregnancy will help you to become the healthy and happy parent that you wantto be.

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