To say that having a child will change your life would be a major understatement, not to mention it’s probably a disservice to expecting parents everywhere. Just about every single aspect of your life will be affected in some way, from your home to your wallet to your emotional stability and even your relationships. With that said, it’s no wonder that planning for a child is something that most parents and parents-to-be never actually accomplish. Read on for some helpful hints which will help you prepare for your own little bundle of joy.
1) Financial – When most people think of having a child, they immediately think of the financial implications. And rightfully so, according to CNN Money, it takes, on average, $245,000 to raise a child until the age of 18 not including college expenses. Fortunately for parents, that amount of money isn’t needed up front but getting your finances in order before you grow your family will relieve a significant amount of stress in the future. At a minimum, you should consider the following and have a plan or “baby budget” in place:
- Savings – This may seems like a no brainer, but if you are planning on starting a family, even a small nest egg may provide you with some options that you would not have otherwise. Start saving as soon as you decide to grow your family (or maybe even before!), do not wait until you or your partner are already pregnant. The more money you put back, the more peace of mind you will have knowing that your little one will be taken care of when times are tight
- Credit – Sure you don’t have to have good credit to have a child, but if having a child means that you will need to expand your home or upgrade your transportation, then maintaining good credit can save you thousands in interest and fees. Be sure to pull your credit report at least annually and review it for any errors. Try downloading a free report from http://www.annualcreditreport.com. Correcting any errors on your report will help to improve your financial position.
- Insurance – There are several types of insurance that need to be considered when you’re expecting a child. The most obvious of which is health insurance. Health insurance is extremely important for expectant mothers (and babies) as they will need prenatal care which is often very costly when paid out of pocket. In addition, you will also want to consider both life and short-term disability policies. Many employers offer short-term disability policies which will pay the expecting mother a portion of her salary while she is on maternity leave thereby replacing some of the income she would have otherwise lost. Life insurance policies (in addition to a living will) should also be considered for both mom and dad in the event that tragedy strikes.
2) Emotional – Preparing for and raising a child can be a beautiful, rewarding experience. However it is also extremely stressful and most expectant parents underestimate the toll that parenthood will take on their emotions. The best way to deal with this is to assemble a strong support team of family and friends who will be there for you on your parenting journey. They will be there to listen to you vent and scream and will be your voice of reason during those many times that you question your decision to become a parent.
3) Health – It’s quite common for a woman’s health to be affected during pregnancy, but most expectant dads don’t realize that their health will also change. Just as their pregnant partners, they may experience weight gain, mood swings, and loss of sleep to name a few of the most common complaints. If you are planning to grow your family, it is wise for everyone in the home to begin healthy habits long before the addition arrives. Make it a point to eat healthy foods, exercise each day, and take a daily multivitamin.
4) Family – There is a lot of debate as to when a pregnancy should be announced to siblings and other family members. Some families prefer to have the family involved from the time the decision is made to expand the family, while others will wait until their second trimester or later to inform their loved ones (this is especially true for younger siblings who may not have an understanding of pregnancy or childbirth). Whatever you choose be sure that you and your partner are on the same page and agree with the decision. Need ideas on how to announce your pregnancy? Read Creative (And Memorable) Ways to Announce Pregnancy.
5) Household – This is another area where there will most likely be substantial changes. Your home will need to be arranged and secured in order to accommodate a baby. The most critical of which is that you will need to prepare a room for the baby. While the child may not need their own room initially, they will at least need a safe, quiet space in which to sleep and play. In addition, you will need to arrange space in other rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom so that you have adequate space for frequently used supplies such as bottles, formula, infant bath tub, baby soap, infant towels, etc.
As overwhelming as this all seems, the good news is that you have at least nine months to get it all done. And the next eighteen years or so to enjoy it!