The decision to have your first child is one of the biggest, most important and most life-changing you will ever make.
Not only that, before you have actually had a child it is really hard to anticipate the sort of issues you will fact. However, there are 4 main issues that you should discuss with your partner before you consider embarking on this journey.
Before the baby arrives you need to make sure that you are both on the same page, so before planning a baby sit down and go over the following 4 key points:
Financial Implications: Can we afford to have a baby right now?
Babies are really expensive in a multitude of ways. Of course, there are all the obvious costs like diapers, formula, and daycare, all the nursery furniture, car seats, etc. But there are also other costs you might not anticipate.
Health insurance costs can increase and there may be occasions when you will need to dip into your savings to cover emergencies.
At the same time as your expenses go up, you could find your income goes down because it is not always the case that employers give paid maternity or paternity leave. Your partner may have to reduce their hours and work part-time, or even stop working altogether.
This is the time when financial transparency is paramount – you both need to be honest about income, assets like stocks, shares and IRAs and ongoing expenses, as well as your personal spending habits.
Working out a realistic monthly budget for the combined income and expenditure is essential. If you do not trust your partner financially, then you may need to reconsider having a child with this person.
What will happen if one (or both) parents die?
Although most people think about having wills and advance medical directives in place, they often do not consider the immediate needs of their surviving spouse. If the main breadwinner dies how will the remaining spouse pay for all the bills? Do they have access to the online accounts, bank accounts, and other means to pay them?
If you have children then life insurance for both parents should be a priority. It is usual for a breadwinner to have insurance but it is also important to put this in place for the partner who is responsible for most of the childcare.
Remember, if this person was to pass away your childcare costs will dramatically increase. A certified financial planner will be able to help you ascertain how much life insurance you will need.
You also need to have a frank discussion about who would take care of your children if you both died, and then have the relevant legal documents drawn up.
Division of household chores.
Babies and children are a 24-hour job and all those mundane tasks like shopping, cleaning, cooking and even looking after your loved family pet can quickly become overwhelming for one person to cope with alone.
Before a baby arrives make sure you discuss how you will divide the workload in the home. Regardless of who is the primary breadwinner or caregiver the chores will need to be divided. If you do not establish this before the fact it is easy for resentment to build up in the relationship if one person feels the other is not pulling their weight.
How many hours will each parent work outside the home?
If one partner would like to be a stay-at-home parent there needs to be an open and honest discussion about whether the other working parent can support this. Is this feasible? How will you prevent the main caregiver from becoming isolated?
Make sure you discuss the real possibility that the stay-at-home parent may feel overwhelmed and how you can avoid this. You need to establish this long before a baby arrives; sleep deprivation does not sit well with having rational discussions and making good decisions.
If you both decide you want to continue to go out to work then you will have to think about what childcare options are the best to meet your needs. Could you use a daycare center?
Maybe a private nanny or a nearby relative would be your preferred option. You will also need to talk about what happens if your child is sick – who will take the day off work? Who takes the child to the pediatrician if needed? Who is going to be at home when the daycare is closed?
The prospect of having a baby is exciting but amid all of this, you need to keep your feet on the ground and commit to having an open and honest discussion with your partner about all of these potential issues long before the baby arrives.
This strong foundation will also bring strength to your relationship, making you less likely to be heading for a divorce court years down the line.