5 Family Planning Tips You Need to Use

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When it comes to how, when, and whether you want to have a child, the sheer number of considerations is overwhelming. When is the best time for you to start a family? Will you be adopting or giving birth to your baby? How will you afford the rising costs of childcare?

If you’re starting the journey of parenthood with a partner, are the two of you ready for the ways your relationship will change? Are you yourself prepared for the changes to your daily routine and the countless other adjustments you’ll need to make to become a mother or father? As you think through the seemingly endless questions, these family planning tips can help you overcome the overwhelming feelings and be prepared to be the best parent you can be.

1. Start saving as early as possible.

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It’s unlikely that you’re planning to start a family without realizing that there’s a lot of money involved in raising children. The average set of middle-income parents will spend nearly $300,000 over their son or daughter’s first 18 years! As a first step, consider the obvious lines of your bringing up a baby budget—the initial medical or adoption expenses, the clothing, food, toys, and nursery setup you’ll need in your child’s first months. Of course, there are also savings toward college or other lifetime costs.

Don’t forget about the expenses that might not come to mind at first, either. If your child needs Invisalign treatment a few years down the road, can you afford to take them to the orthodontist? What about medications or other necessary expenses? Spend some time now figuring out how you can fund their future.

2. Be prepared for the unexpected.

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Medical expenses like traditional braces or Invisalign won’t be the only surprises to pop up as you parent. How will you handle problematic behavior like tantrums or mental health concerns like ADHD? Will you know where to turn if you need advice for parenting a child with behavior challenges? Behavior problems can appear in teenagers and younger children alike, and you likely won’t have much warning of when problematic behavior might start. Be ready to use these challenges and surprises as a chance to offer compassion and strengthen your parent-child relationship, promoting good behavior in a healthy way.

3. Consider your relationship with your partner.

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As new parents, you and your partner will find that your relationship requires adjustments of its own. How can you nurture your marriage or partnership even as you focus on wrangling a toddler? How will you go about revamping your sex life after there’s a newborn in the next room? Spend some time talking to your spouse about what a new addition will mean for the two of you and whether your relationship is ready to tackle challenges that come up along the way.

4. Don’t forget yourself.

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Married couples and others in long-term relationships will need to consider the new ways they’ll nurture their relationship once they become parents. But it’s just as important to consider your own individual needs, too. Are you ready to become a parent? It’s all too easy to pass physical or mental health conditions to a child, through nature or nurture. Do you have effective strategies in place for your own behavior, considering the strength you’ll need to manage your children’s behavior? If there are any significant issues in your past, present, or future, spend some time working through them before committing to parenthood.

5. The timing will never be perfect.

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As you work through the family planning process, it’s only natural for you to want everything to be perfect, including the timing. Maybe you want to live in a different place or be on another career path before you add parenting to your plate. As you consider these tips and others, remember that there’s a difference between being pragmatic and being unrealistic. Ultimately, the timing and other factors will never be totally perfect. You’ll need to adapt and learn as a parent, just as you teach your child and help them grow.

It can be overwhelming to consider all that comes with family planning, especially given the long list of things you’ll need to consider. From how you’ll fund medication or other health expenses and the ways you’ll discipline your child, you can easily fall through a rabbit hole of wanting to be prepared for everything. Of course, you should do as much as possible to make sure you and your partner are ready to become parents, that you have a child with the best method and at the best time for you, and that you’re generally prepared to parent. But remember: there’s no such thing as a perfect parent.

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