There are books, magazines, and websites everywhere that talk about getting prepared for parenting. With more than 4 million babies born in the US each year, the advice continues to grow. Some advice focuses on getting financially prepared, some focuses on getting all the baby essentials ahead of time, some focuses on scheduling date nights and keeping your relationship a priority, and some say to not prepare at all and just learn as you go. Sometimes all the different advice can be contradicting and overwhelming. I’ve talked to lots of new parents and compiled a list of 5 Do’s and Don’t’s of how to prepare for your first child.
Do be prepared financially.
When preparing for your first child, it is a good idea to be as financially prepared as possible. That doesn’t mean you have to be completely set, but having a plan helps relieve the stress that comes with new bills and new baby necessities. If your pregnancy is a surprise, don’t panic, many of the “must have” baby items you don’t even need until later. So you have some time to plan and save. You can also purchase many high dollar items second hand or ask around to friends who may be looking to get rid of some baby items.
Do have a long conversation with your partner.
All of the do’s and don’ts involve this one. Having a “heart to heart” type of conversation with your partner is super important when preparing for your first child (and any major life event). Share with each other about how you are feeling – what are you feeling excited about? Are you feeling scared or anxious? If so, what about? This can allow you to support one another more effectively through this major life transition. Talk about what your expectations are – what are you picturing in your mind and what are you expecting from them to help you prepare for your first child.
Do prepare for change.
One thing that is constant with all the advice around is that change is coming. Your life is going to be different once you meet that little one. One way you can prepare for your first child is by seeking some professional help. There are parenting classes available, couples counseling – both of which can help ensure that you and your partner one are on the same page as you prepare for your first child. Know that things won’t always go according to plan but having open communication can help you both feel more supported.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You are not alone. The stressors of becoming a new parent and trying to prepare for your first child can seem overwhelming. Often when we feel overwhelmed, we feel lonely and frustrated. You are not alone. There are so many people who have gone through what you are going through right now. While your experience may not be the exact same, you can rest assured knowing that you are not the only person who feels unprepared. The truth is, you will never feel 100% prepared for your first child. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying – so just know that you can ask others who have been there for help.
Don’t ask for too much advice.
What? Didn’t you just say to ask for help? Yes, it seems like the opposite of the last “Don’t.” However, asking too much advice from others or leaning on the experiences of others can lead you astray. Your experiences are uniquely yours, what works for some people may not work for you and your partner. Don’t rely too much on what happened to other people because it may not be true for you and your experience. One of the scariest things about having a new baby is you can never fully prepare for your first child. There will be challenges and surprises you can’t prepare for but the bottom line is you can do this. Just do the best you can to feel prepared and comfortable.
Having your first child will likely be both the most exciting and stressful time in your life. Making sure you and your partner are on the same page is the most beneficial thing you can do. Everyone comes into parenting with preconceptions of “the way things are supposed to be.” As a matter of fact, many couples just assume their partner feels the same way without the benefit of ever talking about it. Don’t assume anything. Have the conversation.
What was the best and worst advice you were given to prepare for your first child?