“Parenthood: the scariest hood you’ll ever go through.” – Anonymous
Preparing for the Unexpected
Having a baby is wonderful. In fact, it is life-changing. A baby will change your daily routines and your mindset in ways that are difficult to describe. It will thrust you into sleepless nights and fill you with an array of emotions, both good and bad. New moms can find it to be rewarding, but challenging at times Unfortunately for the moms and dad’s of the world our little ones don’t come with instructions. Hopefully the lessons and tips discussed below can be helpful to those who are preparing for life with a new baby.
We all know that babies can be very expensive which can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. There are diapers, formula, clothes, doctor’s visits, child-care to name just a few of the new costs you will face. One of the things I quickly learned is that I needed to keep both costs and stress levels down.
Consider the following financial tips:
Establish a Budget
There are many ways to track your income and spending; consider using a simple spreadsheet works the best. Set up a separate baby section which tracks how much you spend and on what items. This helps to highlight where costs can be cut and also provides an easy way to set goals. One tip is to not get too hung up on exactness and to use it as a tool that can be tweaked to suit your needs.
Start Saving for College
Once you hold your newborn for the first time, college for the little guy seemed so far away. The future has a way of creeping up on us and there is not a way to turn back time to start saving.
There are many good savings plans out there, so be sure to research the best option for you. Consider investing in the MET which is a 529 plan. This plan allows a person to purchase college credits at today’s rates in order to avoid increases in overall college costs. One tip is to pass the account number on to family members so they can make direct contributions as well.
Build a Rainy Day Fund
This can be easily accomplished in different ways. Choose to direct a portion of your income into a separate bank account that is used exclusively for savings. Some people use a change jar to throws leftover coins in. At the end of the year, cash it in and puts it into your secret savings fund.
Unfortunately, saving is one of the hardest things to do when expenses are hanging over your head. However, one tip is that no amount added to the rainy day fund is too small. Small amounts add up quickly.
Make a mental note of cost at the time of purchase, you can make better decisions. Watch for diaper sales and stock up before the baby is born. Use and analyze your budget.
For example, your budget may show that you were spending a lot of money on diapers. If you do some research and decided to join a club warehouse where you could buy good quality diapers at a cheaper price. For baby formula, you may be able to find several high dollar coupons online. Explore making my own baby food to avoid the high cost of canned food.
Health Tips and Self-Care
Although some health issues are out of our control, there are many things that we can control. Self-care can reduce the effects of chronic stress that can damage a person’s physical health. It also improves your emotional health by making you feel better about yourself. Taking care of yourself will make you a better mom and caregiver to your child.
Consider the following health & self-care tips to help maintain your wellness.
Use Your Support Network to Your Advantage
Your family and friends can be a great source of support both during pregnancy and after the baby arrives. Take an evening off for dinner and a movie. There are several parenting groups out there that can help moms and dads socialize with others. Just don’t forget to maintain a positive relationship with your significant other. Think about organizing babysitting duty trade offs with friends who also have children.
Maintain a Healthy Pregnancy
You will hear a lot of advice from other moms about their own pregnancy. Learn to listen politely, but also recognize that my pregnancy is not their pregnancy. Trust your doctor and your body. Fatigue can be hard to manage so take a few minutes of every day to nurture yourself.
Take a nap, read, go on a walk, lightly exercise, or meditate. Whatever you choose to do, remember that you will need to be physically and emotionally ready for labor and baby.
Make sure to take care of yourself and not just the baby once your little one arrives. People who forget to nurture themselves are at risk for higher levels of unhappiness, resentment, and low self-esteem. Remember the flight attendant saying to put your oxygen mask on first. This is so true for new moms and dads.
Taking care of yourself gives you time alone and makes you a better care-taker. Do what you love and pick something that works for you. Indulge and treat yourself with facials, massages, shopping, pedicures, a hot bath, or a good night’s sleep.
Tragedy is just one small accident away. Safety is a priority for new parents. Babies will put anything and everything in their mouth. They will explore the world around them and regular household objects can quickly become dangerous. Below are some safety tips from the CDC which has one of the most comprehensive websites for new parents.
- Lock up all medicine and keep the poison control number close
- Vaccinate your child. The benefits outweigh the risks.
- Place your child in a proper car seat
- Remove tripping hazards around your home
- Cook with care. Never leave food unattended on the stove.
- Check your water heater temperature. Never leave a child unattended in the bath.
- Fence off pools. Make life jackets a must.
Use Your Parental Instincts
These alerts, awarenesses, and tips are indeed helpful, they can also feel overwhelming. On top of that, becoming a new parent can be scary and overwhelming.
With all of these tips and lessons in mind, remember the most powerful tool is your instinct as a parent. Do what you feel is true and right and you will be the best parent for your child!