Author: Amanda Jensen
Published: Sep 12 2013
"In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable." - Dwight D. Eisenhower
You might not think of it as anything resembling a battle, but for people that have been through the ordeal, they would say the term is aptly applied. Having your first child is a world changing experience and even though your best laid plans will probably be destroyed, having no plan for dealing with it would leave you completely devastated by comparison.
How should you go about getting ready for your first child? The secret lies in these three simple words: planning, planning, and planning. Even though no amount of planning will ever really prepare you for your first child, it will make the ordeal more manageable. Chances are, if you just found out you’re having a child, you have some time to make arrangements.
One of the first things you’ll want to take care of is planning out the living arrangement for your new arrival. You’ll need to make a nursery and clear out space for all the baby related paraphernalia you are about to start stockpiling.
Plan the sleeping arrangements for your baby and yourself. There is no real consensus among parents on whether a newborn should have their own room or sleep in the parent’s room. The general feeling is that the first few months should be spent in the parent’s room and the baby should eventually be relocated, but each family is different. Make a plan, but be ready to change your mind later on if you decide you want the baby closer or need a little more space.
This room preparation requires that you acquire all necessary furniture items. Cribs, car seats, high chairs, diaper bins, these are just a few of the things you need. There’s no point in creating a list, because the list could be a complete article itself. Suffice to say, you will need a lot.
Set aside some space in your pantry or cupboards for all of the food items for your baby. Clear separation between baby and adult foods means you won’t mistakenly eat a meal of mashed peas and carrots. It will also help greatly ease your mind when you need to find necessary baby supplies, because when the crying starts you probably won’t thank yourself for leaving a mess to sort through.
When your living arrangements are squared away you will next want to tackle the task of your care plan. You will need to decide how the baby will be taken care of at home, if you will hire a nanny or someone else to assist you, etc.
Your time will need to be scheduled around your child’s life. With some luck, after a few dozen years or so, you may be able to adjust your life so that it is scheduled around you. Don’t forget the new medical needs in your family.
Will your existing health insurance or Medicare cover your expenses, or will you need to seek a new policy? Medicare covers some of the costs related to pregnancies but may not cover what it considers additional and unnecessary expenses. These can include extended hospital stays due to complicated pregnancies. They also don’t necessarily provide you the option of choosing your preferred healthcare provider. For these reasons, you should consider if you want to look at some private insurance providers.
Buy plenty of diapers, baby wipes, baggies, extra diapers, extra wipes, more baggies, and more and more and more. A good rule of thumb is when you feel that you have plenty of baby supplies, you don’t have enough and you need to buy more. There is little else in the world worse than changing a diaper only to discover, to your horror, that your supply of wipes and diapers has been exhausted.
When you go shopping for baby clothing and accessories try to avoid the urge to buy something because it is simply too adorable not to. Remember, this is a baby, the concept of fashion will be alien to them for several years to come, and then their concept of fashion will become alien to you for several more years after that. Function over fashion will do just fine.
That feeling you get of being completely overwhelmed by your first child is totally natural. The plans may eventually fall apart but you’ll still want to have a plan in place. Keep calm, take a deep breath, remember the plan, and you’ll make it through just fine. Mostly. Probably.
Amanda Jensen is a freelance writer for AAMI, which provides income protection and life insurance to help protect Australian families.
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