If you are about to have children or planning on having them in the future then it is worth preparing for them beforehand. There will be a lot of changes that you will need to make to your lifestyle and if you can make changes now or do things to prepare for those changes then you will be able to cope a lot better when the children do come along.
Children can be a lot more costly than we might think. It can be easy to think that babies are cheap because they are free to feed and so small but you still need to buy car seats, Moses baskets, bouncy chairs, cots, clothes, nappies, pram, toys and then as they get older you will need to buy more toys, clothes, food, beds, pushchair and bigger car seats. This is just the basics you will also need to think about mobile devices, games consoles, school uniform, family holidays, days out, childcare, extra-curricular clubs, birthdays, Christmas and many other things.
Therefore you need to start thinking about budgeting as soon as possible. You need to consider how much extra money you will need to spend to accommodate the children that you are planning and therefore how you will manage to find that extra money. It may be that you will be able to start saving some money each month which can be a great hep in several ways. Firstly having a nest egg is so useful as you may find that you need to buy things and do not have the available money and this will be available for you to dip into. It will also get you into the habit of not spending all of the money that you have available. It may be necessary to cut back your spending when you have children so that you can afford to buy the extras that you will need. Therefore it is wise to start getting into the habit of cutting back before you have children so that you get used to it.
Getting your home ready
You will need to make sure that your home is ready for children. It might be that you will need to get a larger home to accommodate them. You might like to have space for a play room as well as children’s bedrooms and perhaps a garden as well so they have some outside space to play in. You will also need to think about the way that you decorate and the furniture that you have to see whether you think that they are child friendly. You will not want to spend a lot of money on expensive things that might get ruined by children. You may think that your children will not be messy or dirty but it is amazing how much they can ruin with a smear of food, being sick on it or just breaking it. Even if you supervise them all of the time and limit the places where they can eat messy food or play with messy toys you will still find that there will be incidents where things get spoiled and so it is wise to protect them or not buy them in the first place.
You will also need to think about basic things such as where the children will sleep and where you will put their high chairs. Consider where they will play and how you will make those areas child friendly. Consider how you will keep them safe on the stairs, in the garden and within your home.
When you have a child it will be a time when you make decisions with regards to your career. You will decide whether one parent will stop working to look after the children or perhaps move to part-time working. You may both decide to continue working full-time and sort out some alternative childcare, which you will need to plan and consider the cost of. If one or both of you goes part-time then you will have to consider what will happen with regards to childcare the rest of the time and whether you will be able to afford to pay someone to do it for you as well as whether this is something that you would want to happen. It may be that you both decide to go part-time so that you can share the childcare between you. This could have income implications, it may make more sense for the highest earner to continue to work and the lower earner to stop altogether but you may both want to have the opportunity to continue going to work and to progress your careers. It is therefore something that you will need to discuss together but you will also need to do calculations to work out how much money you can afford to live off and whether your preferred arrangement will allow you to still have a high enough income.
Activity and School Planning
It is also worth planning the activities that you would like your child to do, such as play groups, baby groups, scouts or brownies and other activities as well as what school you would like them to go to. This will determine where you will live with your child as not only will some schools have catchment areas but you have to think about how long it will take you to get your child to school. Secondary schools may have buses that they can take but primary schools tend not to and so it will be up to the parents to get them to school and so you will need to consider how easy it will be to do that. Activities are the same in that you will have to get them to those activities and so you need to make sure that there are some close enough to where you live so that they can easily get there. This may seem rather forward planning as you may not think you want to think about secondary schools until your child is about ten years old. However, if you leave it too late you may find that you cannot buy a house near to the secondary school because there are none available or that they are too expensive for you. It is also beneficial to the child if their primary school is near to the secondary as they will then know other children that go to that school with them. So the earlier you can start planning for this the better.