Photo Credit: Miranda Penn Turin/Bravo
If you're part of a couple, having a baby will change just about everything in your relationship: how you socialize, how you and your guy interact with each other, your careers, your future plans, where you'll live and how you'll finance it all -- just to mention a few. We all know that change is hard. So how do you deal with the stress and strain -- especially on less sleep than usual?
Let's talk money, for starters. Adding a whole other person (or persons) into your life can absolutely strain your family finances. On average, it costs just over $225,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18. Of course, almost no one has that money set aside in the bank when baby arrives (nor is that necessary), but having a baby does mean there will be financial decisions to make -- and we all know that when couples have to make decisions (especially ones involving money), conflict can arise.
Here are just a few of the financially related things parents-to-be need to consider:
Health Insurance. Do you have it? And does it offer good prenatal, postpartum and family coverage?
Maternity leave. Is it paid or unpaid? How much time off do get?
Will one of you stay at home with the baby? This is a financial decision and an emotional one. While staying home may be attractive now, what happens if you’ve been out of work for a number of years and then want (or need) to jump-start your career when your children are in school?
Child Care. If you both plan to keep working, will you use day care or hire a nanny?
Buying for baby. Buying the necessary diapers, formula and clothes may mean that former-life "necessities" like eating out and going on vacation go by the wayside -- and that sudden it's-all-about-the-baby focus is sure to have a big impact on your relationship.
Sure, for some of my wealthy clients, a financial issue might mean deciding between spending extra for some diamond encrusted monogrammed letters for the nursery or just going with solid gold ones -- but it goes without saying that for the rest of us, the stress of making financial decisions can put strain on our relationships. So how do you deal? Here a few tips to live by:
Think like a team. Remember, you and your partner are a team, so talk through the tension. Yep, it's easier said than done, but it's fundamental to your relationship's survival. Pick the right time to have these discussions (i.e., over a nice dinner or in bed -- not as you're both running out the door on Monday morning!)
Keep it in perspective. Fighting over finances when your roof needs repairing is one thing, experiencing financial strain because you're having a child together is quite another. It's worth remembering the joy having a child will bring -- and that should give you the motivation to come up with civil solutions.
The best is yet to come. It's easy to look back on your pre-baby days with rose tinted glasses. But for most people I know, those days often included anxiety, uncertainty and loneliness. Now that you're becoming a parent, your life has the potential to become richer, more certain and much more full of love. Think of these strains as growing pains on the way to a much happier and more fulfilling life.
Rosie Pope is a clothing designer, maternity concierge and the star of Bravo's 'Pregnant in Heels.' She'll be blogging weekly for iVillage Parenting; see her new post every Tuesday after the show. Follow her on Twitter: @RosiePope, or find her at rosiepope.com.