Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, having a new little person in your family will impact on several aspects of it. You need to consider how a new baby will affect your career plans, your income, your lifestyle, the needs of the rest of your family, plans to move house and your finances. Here are some things to consider.
Having a baby can get expensive – just at a time when your income might be cut if you decide to take leave from your job or give up working altogether. If both of you are working, think about whether you could cope on one income and then do some sums; though generous at first, maternity pay soon goes down to fairly low levels, so you may want to think about how long you can afford to take off work. However, bear in mind that nursery or childcare fees may eat up much of your wages even if you do return to work. Having some savings put aside before you have a baby will help. If you are both working, you could put aside part of one person’s wages each week or month (set up a direct debit to a savings account). Start with, say, one tenth of your salary, then increase it to two tenths and then three tenths and so on. Before you know it, you will have a nice lump sum for baby equipment and will also have got used to managing on less money.
Many new parents find the worst aspect of having a baby is that you can’t go out or do some of the things you used to on the spur of the moment. You can’t go out for a meal or an evening with friends or away for the weekend whenever you feel like it – unless you have a babysitter on tap. Are you and your partner both ready for this? And those weekend lie-ins will be a thing of the past, too.
What will you do about your job? Will you go back to work? Will you stay at home? You don’t have to decide these things now, but you can begin to think about them. Talk it over with your partner, too, as you may find you have quite different views of this and it’s good to find out now!
You might think about moving house to get some extra space for a new baby and it may make sense to do so before you start a family – though you’ll need to consider the financial implications, as above, as you don’t want to stretch yourself when one of you may not be working. But babies need very little space at first, so you may decide against moving for now. As Donna from Wellington says, “We have a one-bedroom flat and we did think about trying to move before the baby arrived. Money was tight, though, and we decided to put it off for a year – I figured the baby would be sleeping in our bedroom in the early months anyway…and he did!”
How will a new baby exist your other kids? If they’re quite young, they may find it hard to understand and resent the attention being taken away from them – though of course, younger children can be more adaptable to change. Many children love the idea of having a younger brother or sister to look after and can be very caring and helpful. Others may be less certain, especially if you’re having this baby with a new partner. Think about how your children will react and consider if there is anything you can do to help prepare them for a new baby.