Helen Cammack, the founder of Preparental

Why I became The Parenthood Planner

Hi, I’m Helen Cammack and I’m The Parenthood Planner, and the founder of Preparental, on a mission to create fearless future parents.

I used to be a corporate planner and financial director. So I’m used to writing plans. But that’s not how I got here.

And yes, I am a parent. But I am not your average parent. Here’s the story of my personal journey to parenthood, which is also the story of Preparental and my mission.

I found it hard to decide whether to become a parent

I’m nearly 50 now, but in my late 20’s and early 30’s, I spent many years thinking extremely hard about whether I wanted to have kids. I even lost a long term relationship over it. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I was in turmoil about this life decision.

[If you’re feeling doubtful about whether you want to be a parent, and you haven’t made up your mind yet, I have a lot of sympathy with you. And I have tools to help you get your thoughts straight, to cut through the overwhelm and finally decide.

And despite being a parent, I’m not trying to persuade you to follow my path, I just want to help you get off the fence].

I left it too late to be a biological parent

Fast forward a few years, and somehow I had decided that I did want kids after all.

But then, my husband and I had the painful experience of unsuccessfully trying for 5 years – all the time worrying we’d left it too late, and stressing about either being older parents or not being parents at all.

[If you’re thinking that you do want kids, but time is a-ticking, and you’re worried you might leave it too late, I have a lot of empathy for you too. I know what a worry this can be.

And if you’re postponing because you don’t feel ready, I have tools to help you work out what ‘ready enough’ really is, so you’re less likely to miss the boat. Or I know what it’s like to consider alternatives and to need a back-up plan].

I became an adoptive parent

I was about 40 when my husband and I eventually decided to try to adopt. We knew that adopting would not be the same as ‘normal’ parenting and knew the challenges would be different and probably greater.

We were successful in our mission and we ultimately became adoptive parents to our two children in 2017.

[If you’re thinking you need an alternative route to parenthood, I understand you – I’ve been there myself, and got the t-shirt!]

It was only the adoption process that made us plan parenthood

It was only because my husband and I were forced to do some planning as part of the adoption preparation process, that we had a plan for parenthood. We had figured out and agreed how things were going to work before the children came home.

We had to write down our financial situation, and how it would change when we became parents. We had to tell the social workers how much time we would spend off work, how we would finance that, and what our working patterns would be when we returned to work. We needed to map out our support network, and talk to our friends and family about what support they would give us. 

And what’s amazing is that we hadn’t done this before, even despite me being a corporate planner in my professional life, and a spreadsheet fan in my personal life too! To be honest, before we entered the adoption process, we hadn’t really thought to write down or agree plans for parenthood in any structured way at all.

Yes, my husband and I had had a lot of conversations about becoming parents, but mostly they had focused on what we were feeling emotionally, and the nitty gritty of the process of getting there! But we hadn’t spent anywhere near enough time looking forward towards the next part of our lives and asking, “How are we actually going to make this work in practice?”

We realised that everyone should plan parenthood from the start! (but they don’t)

When the dust had settled after adopting our two children (which took about 3 years, to be honest!), I had the lightbulb moment that changed my career direction.

The planning we had done as adoptive parents had really paid off. Although adopting two children was extremely hard work, our planning meant that we could cope. We had set our lives up for the maximum chance of success, and we didn’t have to do anything that would cause us major upheavals – such as moving house, moving jobs, or borrowing money. We didn’t get burnt out as parents because we’d planned to share the load, we knew how to do this, and we had built up our support network intentionally.

I realised that the planning we had done had made our experience of parenthood significantly more straightforward. I noticed that all around me, ‘normal’ parents were burning out, breaking up, changing their careers (often reluctantly), needing flexible work but finding it hard to find, moving house in a panic before their children started school, suffering from a lack of support, and shellshocked by the expense of childcare. 

We would have been exactly the same, if it hadn’t been for the planning we’d been forced to embrace as part of our adoption preparation.

My lightbulb moment was when I asked myself, “Why isn’t everyone planning parenthood?”. And to this day, I still don’t really know. I think most people don’t even think it’s possible, and if they do, they don’t know how.

That’s why I decided to create Preparental, to build upon what I’d learnt in adoption training. And I found that, with research, and with my own experience as a parent, I could improve on it significantly and make it more relevant to those not adopting. And that’s how Preparental was born.

My mission at Preparental

My mission is to create fearless future parents.

Why?

I want to reduce the fear, anxiety and mystery that surrounds parenthood for a lot of future parents.

There’s a knowledge gap between parents and non-parents, which makes it hard to understand exactly what the impact of parenthood will be on your life, before it happens to you.

I believe the decision to have a child should be more intentional and purposeful, for the sake of both parents and children. Too many people drift into it without really thinking.

I care about parents, and I want to make parenthood easier and more enjoyable for them. Parenthood is hard on parents, and it pays to “do the work” before you become a parent when you have more time and energy to set yourself up for success.

I also care about children. I want to make outcomes better for them. If their parents are well-prepared, with their own needs are met, they can focus more on their children’s needs and be ‘better parents’.

(I’m not subscribing to the view that parents need to be perfect, or sacrifice everything for their kids, but as a parent of children who had a very poor start to life, I know how important ‘good enough’ parenting in the early years is for children).

I don’t think there’s enough of a culture of reflection on parenthood by non-parents. It’s almost a taboo subject in the workplace, and even in the family and among friends. I want to normalise talking about and planning for parenthood before it happens.

Finally, it surprises many parents how hard it is to achieve gender equality in parenthood. Those who have been used to being treated equally before they become parents, suddenly find that equality and parenthood don’t go together. Planning can help to rectify this, enabling parents to share parenthood more equally – and this benefits everyone.

Similar Posts