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Thinking of having a baby? Here’s what you need to know

Multiple night wakings. Countless dirty diapers. An infinite list of things to worry about. Welcome to parenthood.

Yup, having a baby is THE definition of life-changing. Just look at all those once-hip, now-frazzled newbie parents out there! 

And while all these changes can certainly be overwhelming, it’s a lot easier to adapt when you’re prepared financially, mentally and physically for what’s coming.

That said, nothing can truly prepare you for Life After Baby. It doesn’t matter how many books you read, or how many prenatal classes you attend.

Instead, try sitting down with your partner (or a nice cup of coffee, for those embarking on the parenting journey solo) to get a grasp on those things you DO have some sort of control over like, say, your finances. And start planning

Because making important decisions pre-baby isn’t just the smart thing to do, it can end up being a lifesaver! (Believe me, you aren’t going to have the brain space to create a budget once baby comes and you’re going on 5 hours of sleep… or less.)

If you want to keep your finances, mental health and physical health in check once you become a parent, remember that they each require a bit of thought and planning… before you start family planning!

 

Your finances: Create a baby budget

Having a baby is not for the faint of heart… or light of wallet. That said, people of all incomes have been making it work for centuries. It just takes a bit of willpower no more avocado toast, millennials! (We kid.) It also means considering things that may not have previously crossed your mind. Hand-me-downs, garage sales, and online buy-sell groups will become your new best friend. Especially when you realize your brand new baby is growing out of those brand naming clothes at an alarming rate. (No, your 3-month-old does not need a pair of Nike shoes… no matter how adorable they look!) If that’s news to you, read on. 

Here are 3 ways to budget for baby:

  1. Make it a priority to pay off debts before you become a parent. Raising one child is estimated to cost a North American family upwards of $230,000 over the first 18 years of their child’s life. Add another one to the mix, and obviously, that number goes up. The last thing you need is to carry around old debt as you take on this new, and rather large, financial responsibility. If you aren’t doing so already, now may be the time to speak with your bank about putting automatic payments towards any money owing. And if you need to cut down on other expenses in order to make the payments, simply see it as great practice for when baby comes! 
  2. Open a savings account for baby. And no, we aren’t talking about giving your infant an allowance. But similar to how you might have a fund for groceries, we’re suggesting you create a baby fund where everything you buy that is baby-related comes out of that account. Believe me, this will help minimize all those impulse purchases (which will go waaaay up when you’re surrounded by teeny-tiny baby shoes, adorable onesies, and stuffies… sooo many stuffies).
  3. Look into daycare costs… and then start saving. Depending on where you live, daycare expenses can hit new parents really hard. We recommend finding out the average cost of daycare in your city and doing a bit of math. If it’s significantly more than 10% or your combined salary/ies, you may want to consider asking for a promotion first. Or, if you’re in a partnership, talk about the possibility of one parent staying home or working part time during the early years. 

 

Your mental health: Prepare for baby blues

While ‘baby blues’ is the official term for mood swings a new mom can experience a week or two after giving birth, what we’re referring to here is feelings of general sadness* that can hit either parent, at any time. Because the truth is, it can be a challenge for both moms and dads to adjust to a new life of little sleep, little socializing, and lots of crying. Lots and lots of crying which can be very hard on your new mama or papa heart. 

And as much as you’ll love that little being you’ve created, there will be moments when your heart aches for the life (and freedom!) you used to enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you wanted that baby more than anything. Know that missing your old life now and then is completely normal, and it certainly doesn’t make you a bad parent. (Like you need one more thing to feel guilty about!) Mentally preparing for the tougher times is one of the best things you can do for your future self. 

Here are 3 ways to put your mental health first once baby arrives:

  1. Create your own village. Being very clear on who your support system is before baby comes is a BIGGIE. If you live far away from family, or are living in an area where you don’t have friends or neighbors you can turn to, consider paying for services, like doulas, night nannies or good ol’ fashioned babysitters even if it’s just a couple of hours here and there to get a load of laundry done or a nap in.
  2. Tell your ‘person’ what you need before you need it. For many of us, that’s the child’s other parent. But for single parents, it could be their own mom, a sibling or a friend who’s already gone through it. Let them know how to support you through the difficult times. Write them a letter, or make a list your worries. Be specific when it comes to how they can help. Giving them something to refer to when times are tough is one of the best gifts you can give your future self.
  3. Write down your top 5 mood boosters and refer to this list when you’re feeling down. There are many things you can do for your mental health with baby in tow. Journaling? Check. Nature walks? Good for baby too! More sleep? Take it when you can get it! (Yes, the dishes can wait.)
    *If you’re feeling down more often than not, you may be suffering from something more serious, like postpartum depression (PPD) or paternal postpartum depression (PPPD). Be sure to speak with your family doctor or a therapist for next steps.

 

Your physical health: Love that baby body

First things first, ban the phrase “pre-baby body” from your vocabulary this goes for mama and her partner. The expectation that a woman’s body should go back to “normal” after a certain length of time seems to discount the fact that she had a living thing growing inside her for nine months, and that to keep that living thing alive both pre- and post-partum, her body had to undergo some pretty awesome changes: her organs had to shift, her pelvic bones had to widen, and the milk ducts in her breasts had to reproduce and grow. So let’s focus on how amazing this mama’s body is instead of inadvertently fat-shaming her with unrealistic expectations. 

And may we remind you that both nourishing and moving your body are two other great ways to show it some love? This goes for moms, dads, and partners in child-rearing crime! It may seem rather obvious, but you’ll be putting so much time, thought and energy into keeping that new baby fed and safe, that it’s pretty common to forget about your own needs. Remember, your baby needs you to stick around for as long as possible, so don’t put your own health on the back burner. 


Here are 3 great ways to show your body some love after baby comes:

  1. Sign up for meal services. While it can be hard to find time to prepare a healthy meal in the days (or months!) after baby arrives, we want to emphasize how important it is that both moms and dads are getting the nutrients they need during this exhausting phase of life. Whether you fill up your freezer with pre-made meals, subscribe to a meal delivery service, or simply depend on your support system to keep you fed, just make sure you are eating. Plus, supplements help! And while moms might assume they should stop taking their prenatal vitamins after the birth of their baby, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. A new mother’s body will benefit from all those extra nutrients while breastfeeding or simply caring for your child.
  2. Join a baby & me fitness class. This is a great way to get outdoors, get active and meet other new parents. Plus, babies are welcome so no excuses when it comes to making it to class. Not only do you not have to worry about leaving your little one behind or paying for childcare, you get to use your little chunker as a ‘weight’ in class. Plus, depending on where your babe’s at in their development, they’ll likely have great fun participating too. (And nobody gives you the stink eye when your screaming baby demands some milk or a diaper change you’ll be surrounded by new parents who get it!
  3. Rest… when you can. (We won’t say “when the baby rests.” You’ll know why when you become a new parent.) But seriously, when you can, give yourself permission to close your eyes and sleep no matter what time of day. If you need to call your support system in to get some shut eye, do so. Your sleep is important for your health. For some new parents, simply getting some time to relax in the bath or shower is just the rest they need. So don’t forget to take advantage of this little taste of ‘me time,’ and prolong your showers for as long as you possibly can… until your partner catches on, of course. 😉

So now you know the deal: If you’re thinking of having a baby, think about every little thing that’ll accompany that little bundle of joy because it’s not all first smiles and first steps, my friend. (But those firsts do make it all worth it, we promise.)

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