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Preparing to have your first child can be exciting and stressful. You know your life is going to change, and it’s impossible to be ready for everything. Experienced parents will reassure you that you’ll figure it out as you go along, but it can help if you have some planning in place even if those plans eventually change—which they probably will.
Managing with a New Baby
The thought of bringing your child home and being fully responsible for him or her can be overwhelming, particularly if you don’t have much or any experience with babies. The good news is that most of the time, you can trust your instincts. Babies let you know when they are hungry or need changing, and you’ll quickly develop a rapport. However, the first few weeks can be tough, and it can help if you get some extra support in place. Ideally, a family member or friend could be on call or even come and stay with you for a few days or weeks since you and your partner will probably both be exhausted. If this isn’t possible, think ahead about what you’ll need. Making healthy freezer meals so you don’t have to cook, getting blackout curtains and a white noise machine for those times when you are able to grab some sleep and ensuring that you have a plentiful supply of diapers and formula can all go a long way toward preparing you.
Paying for College
The above takes care of the short term, but what about the long term? Many parents start worrying about how they’ll pay for their child’s college before the child is born. You can start a 529 savings plan with your child as beneficiary that gives you certain tax breaks and benefits. Keep in mind that scholarships and grants are also a possibility, and while your primary concern may be ensuring that your child does not have to go into too much debt to attend college, both federal and private loans may offer attractive interest rates. A lot can change in the next 18 years before your child is ready to attend college, but the process for getting private student loans is currently easier and more streamlined than ever before. It is likely that these options will continue to be available in the years to come.
Future Proofing Your Lifestyle
Future proofing is a term that is used by businesses and organizations to think about how to create products and processes that can easily accommodate anticipated future changes, but you can do this in your personal life as well. In fact, in some ways, you probably already have. If you bought a vehicle or a house based on how many children you anticipate having, this is a form of future proofing. You or your partner might have also made career decisions based on this. Another consideration is the school district your child might attend based on where you live. Future proofing is far from foolproof because unanticipated events could alter your plans. However, it can be a great exercise for reducing anxiety and can still lay the groundwork for problem solving even if the future does not go exactly to plan.