There’s a lot that goes into family planning. When you’re in the beginning stages, it can start with deciding if you want children and how many. You’ll also likely need to discuss finances and where you want to live. Do you want the small town feel or the city life?
Before you even find a partner, it’s good to start thinking these things through. Knowing what you want, value, and envision for your future is helpful when deciding who to share it with. Though everything that goes into having children can be daunting, planning and dreaming can be exciting.
The more you plan and map out, the more you can control the controllables. Keep reading for steps you can use when charting out your family planning.
1. Use Reliable Contraception Until You’re Ready
Part of family planning includes whether or not you’ll have children, and if so, when. As far as your plan goes, this is a vital step. Discuss your thoughts about children with your partner. Be sure to be open and honest with each other. If one of you wants five children and the other zero, you might not be compatible long term.
It’s also important to understand if you want biological children or if adoption is for you. Whatever the case may be, engage in your love making using contraception unless you’re ready to be a parent. You can refill your birth control online and have it sent to your home.
2. Make a Plan for Your Healthcare
Having children is expensive, especially with the prenatal and birthing costs. Without insurance or without looking into your options, it can create a financial burden. If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, sign up for the health plan that works best for you. This might mean contributing extra to your health savings account, if you have one, to save up for your future deductible. It could also mean joining your partner’s health plan if they have better coverage.
Understand what your employer’s maternity leave and short term disability plans are as well. How will you be covered and paid during your time off? Shop around for your physician as well. Call your insurance and check which providers and hospitals are considered in-network. The difference in cost of giving birth at an in-network compared to an out-of-network hospital is staggering.
3. Prepare Financially
Outside of your HSA and additional savings for medical costs, prepare other areas of your finances ahead of time. Unknowns can happen when having a baby. Your company might offer paid 6-week-maternity leave. Or you might have to take short-term disability the whole time you’re off. If you only receive a percentage of your pay while on leave, put extra in savings to cover this gap.
When you decide it’s time to start planning for a baby, put as much in your emergency fund as possible. Having it there creates a financial cushion during a high-stress time. You’ll also want to think about the costs of formula compared to breast milk and the price of diapers. Your budget will change dramatically when you welcome your bundle of joy.
4. Decide Where You Want to Raise Your Children
Most people have a picture of what their family life will be when they settle down. Maybe a small town or country life sounds peaceful. Or you might want the city life to enjoy a walkable neighborhood with lots of events for your family. You and your partner might feel secure anywhere as long as you have each other. But living close to your extended families and support system might also be appealing.
There is no wrong answer. Whatever fits in with your needs and values is perfectly fine. Understanding where you want to be is helpful though. When the time comes, make moves to get to the location that is ideal for you. Start building your life where you want your future to unfold.
5. Map Out Your Career Goals
Looking at your finances and where you want to live also involves your career goals. If you have a job that requires you to live near a large city, your location is impacted by that. If you want to be a stay-at-home-parent while your partner works outside the home, financially prepare for that.
You and your partner might have to compromise as you map out your future. Having these conversations early is important for happiness and longevity. You might have to take turns for whose career is in the driver’s seat at different times while raising your family. That doesn’t mean one is more important. It just means that for different seasons, you have to decide what works best for your family unit.
6. Childcare and Schooling
The type of childcare and schooling you want for your children impacts several other areas of your plan. If you don’t want your children attending daycare, one of you might have to stay home with the kids. Or you might find a grandparent who is willing to offer childcare. This would also be the case if you want to homeschool.
If you want your kids in daycare or private school, you’ll need to adjust your budget. Your income will need to support the payments to the school you want your kids enrolled in. Location also matters because you’ll want to live in that school district.
Many think of contraception and how close in age you want your kids to be when they hear “family planning.” There’s much more to it though. Contraception, finances, housing, childcare, and career plans are all part of it. Though a lot goes into your planning, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Think about what you want and how to get there before you’re ready to start trying. Having a plan can lower your stress and help your family reach their dreams.