Anti Ageing Tips for Older Parents
Only 50 years ago, it was practically unheard of for anyone to be having a baby for the first time in middle age but now, with more and more people focusing on studying and careers first and marrying or having families later, it is not uncommon for many women to have their first baby in their late thirties or even forties. Similarly, many men are often bachelors until well into middle-age and some enter fatherhood at the same time as they enter their so-called “midlife-crisis”!
The Pros & Cons of Being An Older ParentBecoming an older parent certainly has many challenges. Not only do you not have the physical energy and stamina you had in your twenties, your own health may be more precarious with various middle-age ailments beginning to affect you. Your tolerance to discomfort and irritations will also be much lower than in your youth and you may also find the change in your lifestyle after so many child-free years a little disturbing.
However, being an older parent can also have its advantages. You are likely to be more financially and emotionally stable than in your twenties and early thirties. You will probably have established a successful career yourself and gained a wealth of experience which will give you a greater understanding of relationships and a greater ability to meet the challenges ahead. What is more, your greater sense of self-esteem and identity will give your child a greater sense of security. In fact, social science statistics suggest that older mothers produce children who have a higher chance of doing better in school and entering professional occupations.
Staying YoungDespite the rewards, bringing up children in middle age can be an exhausting, stressful process. However, while many often joke that nothing ages you faster than having children, there are several things you can do to make things easier. So here are some anti-ageing tips for older parents:
- Lower your standards and expectations - It is very common for older parents – who were ambitious and successful over-achievers in their professional lives – to want to apply that same attitude to parenting but this can lead to an exhausting, demoralising and ultimately unproductive experience. It doesn’t matter if you were a top executive or champion athlete – you will find it less stressful if you don’t apply those perfectionist principles to parenting. Bringing up children is a long term, round-the-clock job which is draining both physically and emotionally – and has no immediately measurable objectives. So relax your standards and expectations a bit – and you will find parenting a more enjoyable and less stressful (and therefore ageing) experience!
- Don’t be ashamed of getting help and support – Having a nanny if you can afford it or using childcare is not a crime or a sign of your failure as a parent. In fact, studies show that having help – whether from a family member or professional nanny – during the post-partum period can significantly lower the rates of post-natal depression. Furthermore, even when your children are a little older, don’t pass up the chance of handing responsibility over to someone else for a while and taking a break. In particular for older parents, this could be the time your own body may start to let you down with signs of early disease and you will need some time for yourself to nurture it.
- Don’t just follow the books – use your instincts and common sense! – With the wealth of literature and manuals on parenting today, it can be very tempting for many older parents to turn child-rearing into an intellectual exercise and try to follow ever guide to the letter. This not only sets up unrealistic expectations which can be difficult to meet but also causes additional stress as many of the ‘experts’ offer conflicting advice and you can become overwhelmed trying to satisfy them all or struggle to decide which one to follow. At the end of the day, don’t forget that by the sheer fact of having lived for several decades yourself, you will have accumulated a wealth of experience and observations on human nature and interactions – therefore, don’t be afraid to trust your own instincts. In many cases, a healthy dose of common sense often provides the best solution to the problem.
- Take time out for yourself – In your quest to be the best parent to your child, you may often forget about yourself and your own needs. But it is vital that you do prioritise some time for yourself – especially for older parents, at a time when your own bodies may be changing and you may need more time to recuperate and recharge than in your younger years. So don’t feel guilty about slotting some “me-time” into your busy schedule – whether it is an aerobics class, lunch with a friend or even simply curling up on the sofa with a good book.
We have all heard about the trend now for “yummy mummies” and many older parents, especially women, feel the pressure to strive for that ideal. But at the end of the day, real anti-ageing is about staying young in ways that matter – not in how you look but in remaining physically fit and mentally sharp, so that you can enjoy your time with your children for many years to come.