Bringing a child into the world is most likely going to be the most exciting and nerve-racking time of your life. As they say, there’s no instruction manual to having kids, so it is up to you and your partner to prepare as best you can for your new child.
When you’re preparing for a child, there are so many things to think about that it can get overwhelming very quickly. In the first year of your baby’s life, you will experience lots of sleepless nights and many stressful days. And if you’re not emotionally and practically prepared for the challenges of being a parent, it’s going to leave you frustrated and unimaginably exhausted.
Because there’s no step-by-step guide to raising a child, you and your partner must put in the time and do the necessary research that comes with preparing for a child. Be thankful if you are co-parenting because having an extra set of hands will make all the difference in the world. This next year is going to be a difficult one. However, there will certainly be moments of immense joy. There will be many more moments of pain and frustration, but that comes with the territory.
The sooner you realize you will never have all the answers, the better, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare; if you want a fighting chance, you will have to be ready for the huge change you are about to experience. The following will detail a few of the millions of tips and preparations that you and your partner should take into consideration as you are preparing for a child.
For the sake of organization, this guide will be broken down into four sections, the pre-delivery phase, month one, the first year, and some lifelong preparations to consider.
The Pre-Delivery Phase
Make a Baby Budget
A baby budget consists of two sections, the pre-delivery budget and the post-delivery budget.
Once you know that you and your partner will have a baby, you must look at the estimated medical and home costs that you will take before the baby arrives. Pre-delivery costs are far more than baby clothes and a healthy supply of diapers and food. These costs include home modifications and medical bills that will likely cost you more than you would imagine.
Post-delivery costs include food, medical care, child care, and supplies (such as car seats, and strollers).
Understand now that preparing for a child is not cheap, so the more you budget your expenses, the better.
Plan Your Maternity Leave
If both you and your partner work full-time, you will require some period of maternity/paternity leave. Of course, not all employers offer paid leave for new parents, so you may have to further budget your spending if you may not be getting paid for an extended period of time.
Prepare Your Home
The first step to getting your home ready for a child is to get some of the necessary parenting equipment: this means buying a changing table and a diaper genie, but it also means hiring a roofing contractor to keep your home safe.
After you have some of the big-ticket items out of the way, you will want to think about stockpiling baby formula, shopping for diapers, wipes, and baby powder in bulk. Thinking about even investing in wholesale tortillas and other non perishables for you and your partner. Anything that saves you time and money will benefit you and your partner.
When preparing for a child, making sure that your home is a safe and comfortable environment is imperative. Preparing your home obviously means child-proofing all doors, cabinets, stairs, and sharp corners. However, making your home safe involves a lot more than that.
If your home has an open back yard, you might want to invest in simple fence installation to ensure that your child doesn’t wander too far once he or she is moving around on their own.
Babies often require precise temperatures to be safe and comfortable; for that reason, you and your partner should make sure your heating and air conditioning system is up to date and working properly.
Any other home needs that may pose a risk to your child should be taken care of before the baby arrives. After the delivery, you won’t have time to hire a roofing contractor, no less the money for a residential roof installation. And you certainly won’t have the money to invest in residential plumbing repairs. Big home improvement projects that need to be done should be taken care of before the baby arrives.
Know Your Insurance Coverage
Knowing what costs you and your partner will have to pay out-of-pocket will make budgeting your expenses far easier. Even if you have good insurance having a baby will be very expensive. To best prepare for your baby, you need to understand how comprehensive your insurance plan is, and what it does and does not cover.
Research and Choose a Pediatrician
Choosing a reputable pediatrician that falls under your insurance plan is one of the most important steps you and your partner must make when preparing for a child. This is something that can’t be put off until after the baby is born. Your child will have to go to the pediatrician within the first week of being born. Finding a good pediatrician that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg might very well take longer than a week.
Save, Save, Save
Money, money, money. There’s never enough of it when your preparing for a child. So, when you are getting ready to bring a child into the world, you will want to start saving funds before they arrive. Think of it as emergency funds, you never know what might come up, but you must be prepared financially if and when something does come up.
During the Delivery
During the first month of your child’s life, you will hopefully be on maternity leave. While your baby will require 24/7 attention, this can be a great time to take care of things that are coming down the road after your first month with a child
Set Up Child Care
During the first month of your baby’s life, you will be spending close to 100% of your time with them. But once your maternity or paternity leave has ended, you will need to return to work, and find a child care provider that fits your needs and budget.
Many people think that good childcare needs to be very expensive. Fortunately, that is not the case. If you are lucky enough to have a family member that is either retired or does not work who wants to help you, then that’s great! Of course, that isn’t an option for everyone, but there are options that fit any budget, as long as you prepare accordingly.
Get your Child on the Insurance Plan
Getting your child on the family insurance plan shouldn’t be as issue as long as you do it within the first few weeks of your baby’s life.
When you’re preparing for a child, the last thing on your mind is the potential end of that child’s life. However, unfortunate and improbable the untimely death of a newborn might be, you and your partner should consider taking out a life insurance policy for your child. Your insurance provider will be able to provide you with all the information you would need to take out a policy on your child.
The First Year
Now that you are a full-time parent, you will need to take some things into consideration as you and your family prepare for the future.
Research Child Dental Care
Soon after the first few months of your child’s life, they will have new teeth that need to be taken care of. Child dental care is just as important as having a good pediatrician. With tooth decay being the second-most common illness after the common cold, you must get your child a reputable dentist as soon as possible.
Save for Your Child’s Future
Education is expensive, and only getting pricier by the year. For that reason, it is smart for you and your partner to start saving as much as you can as soon as you can.
Even if your child attends public school and doesn’t choose to pursue higher education, you still want to be able to take your son or daughter on that beloved trip to the used auto dealership for their 16th birthday.
No one likes to think about this part, but there are many things about preparing for a child that aren’t fun to think about. Unfortunately, as a parent, it is your responsibility to make a few legal and financial preparations so that you and your child are as well-prepared as possible.
Adjust or Write Your Will
If you don’t already have a Final Will and Testament contact a family law specialist as and write one. Now that you have a family and you’re saving up some money, you need to allocate your assets in the event of your passing. No one wants to think about their own death, but now that you’re a parent, you have to think about your child’s well being above your own.
Prepare Lawyers in the case of an Emergency
You will have access to a family law specialist as they helped set up your Will. However, you will also want to consider having an injury lawyer or even a child custody attorney handy in case anything unfortunate happens to your child, or between you and your partner. Rather than thinking about these things as anticipating a disaster, think about it as preparing yourself in case one arises.
Begin or Continue Saving for Your Retirement
Many people lose sight of their own needs when they’re preparing for a child. Your personal well being and career goals still matter after you have a child, remember that.
After your child is settled, and your finances have leveled off, start saving for your retirement. Or, if you have already started a retirement fund, begin adding to it again.
Maintain Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Continuing to take care of your own physical and mental well being will make you a better parent. So, if you haven’t had time to get on the bike or go for a run recently, make a point to do so. Keeping your sense of self is important if you’re going to be a successful parent.
Preparing for a child isn’t easy, and many parts of it aren’t very much fun. However, it is one of the necessary evils of being a responsible parent.
The list of preparations that go into becoming a parent is a mile long, so don’t stress yourself out trying to make everything happen at once. Look at the different stages of parenting as different stages of preparation. Take parenting, and life, one thing at a time.
Remember, no matter how much you plan, prepare, or worry about everything you have to do to be a successful parent, you will inevitably miss something along the way. Be ready to roll with the punches of parenthood, let me tell you, there are too many punches to count. Take comfort in that you have done as much preparation as you can, and realize that there’s no way to know if you’ve done everything you need to.
Go forth, be the best parent you can be. And remember, nobody’s perfect.