After the baby comes home from the hospital and you have managed to get more than 30 minutes of uninterrupted sleep between the revolving door of visitors and endless feedings, reality sets in. There is another human being living in your home who has many needs. Another human being who will change your life in ways you never imagined. There will be so much love and smiles and joy and laughter, but there is also a serious side to parenting. Here are some serious things to think about before and after you have a baby.
You may want to think about these things before baby is born…
In case you did not know, babies are expensive. Examine your budget. Diapers, clothes and toys all add up quickly. Plan for this in your current budget so it will not be a shock to you once the baby arrives. Look for ways to cut costs. Ask for diapers and wipes at your baby showers. Clip coupons for baby items and use money saving apps when you shop. Swap clothes and baby gear with friends who have kids. Save money while shopping at kids’ consignment stores for other items you may need.
Have a serious discussion with your partner about child-care options when you go back to work. This should be set up far in advance with some back-up options as well. This is a very personal decision for parents, but consider all of your options: day cares, friends who stay at home with their kids who may want some extra money, or family members who may want to help. With that said, think about if you want to go back to work once the baby is born or if you want to stay home. This came up many times (OK, every second) when I was pregnant and when I was on maternity leave. I ending up dropping my work hours to part time when my daughter was born. That may be an option as well for you.
Take a look at where you live and the schools around you. Whether you plan on sending your children to private or public schools, consider distance to the school and school districts in your area. This was the biggest disagreement my husband and I had when we bought a house. We are now in the process of moving because everything changes when you have kids and thinking about their education is a big decision.
Talk to your partner about your potential parenting styles. This will evolve over time, however, make sure you are on the same page on issues that are important to you and that will impact your baby right after birth, such as breastfeeding or formula feeding, vaccinations, circumcision if you are having a boy, co-sleeping or not, etc. Discuss with your partner your thoughts on topics such as discipline and schedules for your children. Have these conversations early because it keeps communication lines open as your children get older.
After you have the baby, you may want to…
Open a bank account for your baby. Consider having a certain amount of your paycheck direct deposited into the account. Grandparents and other family members may deposit money into it for birthdays. You can also consider opening a college fund for your children.
Make a living will. I have worked in the healthcare industry for almost 10 years. I am embarrassed to say that I did not have a living will until our daughter was born. My husband knew my wishes, should something happen to me, and I knew his, but we wanted it in writing. We decided who our Power of Attorney would be, and who our daughter’s guardians would be, should something happen to both of us. This was not easy to do, but after everything was in writing, it gave us a sense of peace knowing that she would grow up in a loving, stable family with a couple who share our values and love for her. Make sure to get copies of this to store somewhere safe in your home, and get copies for the POA and guardians.
If you desire, make sure your children are listed as beneficiaries on all of your financial accounts. Consider your Roth-IRAs, 401K plans and pension plans. If you do not want them as beneficiaries, it is a good reminder to check these accounts to see who is listed, to make sure that you do not want to change anything.
Baby-proof the home. Obviously this does not need to be done until your baby is older and more mobile, but some things to consider include: anchoring furniture to the wall, safety devices for electrical outlets and baby gates. Make sure soaps, laundry and dish detergents, cleaning supplies and toiletries are out of reach. Consider securing kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers.
What did you talk about with your partner before you had a baby? What serious action steps did you take after your baby was born to plan for the future? Feel free to share you thoughts as we all navigate this serious side of parenting.