The prospect of being a parent can evoke a lot of mixed feelings depending on the type of parenting plan you have created in anticipation of this unique stage in life. It has been said that parenting is one of the hardest jobs any person will ever have. Obviously if no planning is done before conception, then the mere thought of having a baby on the way can be very scary to most people. Questions like “Where do I start?”, “How do I take care of the baby?”, and “What do I do first?” all tend to race through one’s mind.
Having a parenting plan helps answer some of these questions and helps to demystify the whole process. The plan can help to make things more clear and dispel any fears or misgivings parents may have about childbirth, bringing baby home, and child development. Even with a parenting plan, raising children is not an easy task. It is a lifelong process that is full of trials and tribulations. With proper preparation though, these trials and tribulations can be opportunities for learning and growth.
A parenting plan should initially encompass all aspects from conception to birth which is one of the most stressful stages of becoming a parent. At this stage, the parenting plan may include extensive reading, listening, and talking to other mothers about the adjustments they have had to make in anticipation of their child entering the world. Some of these adjustments may include exercising, good nutrition, and access to proper prenatal care.
During this stage we can also plan such things as how you might want your significant other to be involved in the birthing process. Also consider where you want to give birth, and which type of birth procedure you would prefer – whether a home birth or a hospital birth, and with or without pain medication. Doing this while you are still a mom-to-be or pregnant will help you gain some good knowledge and perspective. These are not the decisions you want to make after your labor pains have started!
It is important to gather resources that will help you make informed decisions about how you will care for your baby after birth and as he or she grows. Things to consider initially are feeding options such formula, breast feeding, and organic versus non-organic baby food. When considering organic options, you must take into account things like costs and benefits and when considering breast feeding, take into account how much time you will have available.
Now is the time to also discuss what type of parenting style you will use as your child continues to develop. Will you have a strict household with many rules to follow or will your child be free to express themselves with some boundaries? Who will be the disciplinarian or will it be a joint responsibility? The most important aspect of this part of the parenting plan is making sure all parties are on the same page to ensure the parenting style is most effective.
Another important component of your parenting plan would be to make sound financial arrangements both in the short and long term. There is no way around it; having a child is very expensive. You have to consider the fact that you might have to manage with a reduced income caused by your time off from work during pregnancy or birth. There may also be hospital bills, daycare costs, baby supply costs, and planning for things like paying for school or college tuition down the road. This is why it is very important to develop a plan now for how to handle all these issues that are bound to come up.
It is not possible to have a road map that will cover all possible aspects of parenting. Life throws curve balls at us and we might have to improvise one way or another as we move along. However, parents who develop a parenting plan early on are at an advantage to be able to anticipate some of these troubles and prepare in advance.
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