Evaluating Your Parenting Readiness: Are You Prepared For a New Arrival?
So, you think you are ready to have a baby? If you have never had a child, there’s little doubt that you’ll be in for an eye-opener or two after you get pregnant, no matter how well-prepared you are. Therefore, you should find out everything you can about having a baby before you begin trying to get pregnant. Here are some key factors to consider as you make this life-altering decision:
Having a child costs a lot of money, as most parents-to-be understand. However, many people don’t take into account the financial changes that occur after having a child. If you are planning to go back to work, realize that you may have a change of heart about working a full-time job once you have a newborn at home waiting on you.
You’ll also be extremely tired for at least the first six months, as newborns eat every two hours around the clock, and that’s not even counting the constant diaper changes. You may also learn that your childcare is only open until a certain hour each day and that you can’t work as many hours as you did before. Therefore, it’s a good idea to pay off any loan debt, such as a car loan or credit card debt, now so that you have fewer financial obligations to worry about after giving birth.
You also need to have a nest egg. Save enough money to cover rent, utilities, food, etc., for three to six months, in case you find yourself unable or unwilling to go back to work fulltime after the baby’s birth. Look into maternity and/or paternity leave to see what is available and what steps you need to take in order to receive the time off.
Expecting mothers’ hormones often skyrocket, causing extreme mood swings. Add this to the sometimes unexpected attitude of the father-to-be, who may or may not be in the picture, and you have two time bombs waiting to explode. There are so many emotional changes that occur between an expecting mother and father that, compounded with the stress of bringing a new baby into the family, can sometimes be too much to handle. Once-strong relationships can crumble if you aren’t prepared for the emotional changes ahead of time.
One way to keep your relationship strong during a pregnancy and after birth is to make social connections with other parents. Start attending family-oriented social gatherings in your community to meet new parents, and make an effort to schedule couple time as well. After the baby is born, take at least one night a week for just you and your mate.
Having a child takes up a lot of space. If you live in an already-cramped apartment, you’ll need to look into a larger place to live in order to make room for a baby. The baby will need a lot of stuff, from a crib to a stockpile of diapers, and you’ll need to have the extra space for it all. Also, if you depend on public transportation on a regular basis, you may want to consider getting a car to save yourself the hassle of carrying a heavy baby carrier and a baby bag everywhere you go.
Having a baby is a miraculous event that results in a joy like no other. However, with every great achievement comes a great deal of stress and changes. Savor the quiet time you have and reconsider what it will take to prepare for a little one—once your baby arrives, you’ll be glad you did.