...apart from sleep.
We’re not going to tell you which buggy is the best buy or which nappies are the most sustainable, there are plenty of useful resources you can access and more often than not, these choices are down to personal preference anyway.
What we do want to help you start thinking about is the must-do list that you should go through before or as soon as your baby arrives. These are our top 10 tips for making parenthood a bit easier to navigate (especially when you’re brand new to it).
1. Figure out what kind of financial help you’re entitled to receive
Many people don’t claim benefits due to not even knowing they’re entitled to them. In fact, family finance is still a topic rarely discussed in most households. As an example, almost £800m in child benefits go unclaimed every year. Check your eligibility on www.gov.uk/child-benefit and apply on time if it turns out you’re entitled to some benefits.
2. Open a Junior ISA for your child
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have disposable income right now. Opening a Junior ISA is normally free and some providers allow contributions from other people. More and more parents are benefiting from relatives gifting money to their children. At Nosso, we even simplify the process and make external contributions very convenient so you don’t even have to share bank details with those who want to help build a secure financial future for your child. If you want to know more about how JISAs work, read our guide on this topic.
3. Advise your generous family and friends about what you DON’T need
Babies really do need very little in the first twelve months. They need love, nurturing, milk, sleep…you get the picture. They really don't care if they are dressed in a baby grow handed down from one parent to another. If you’re lucky you’ll have generous friends and family all wanting to celebrate your little one with flowers and gifts and maybe even a baby shower. In the same way many couples getting married choose not to have a gift list but prefer financial contributions instead, you could also politely suggest that they make a contribution to your child’s JISA.
At Nosso we make it super easy for friends and family to contribute to your child’s financial future. You can simply share your child's JISA link with your friends and family and they can add their contributions directly into it. It’s a sustainable gift that will grow with them rather than one they will grow out of in months!
4. Get family protection - income protection, health insurance & life insurance and even wills
Yes, the boring stuff. However, it’s now more clear than ever that having things in order can make a huge difference so don’t delay these simple steps. They’re normally out of the way for years once set up. Discussing family finance is hugely important, and we provide lots of jargon free guides on our website.
5. Get involved in your local community - playgroups, baby classes, parenting workshops, etc.
Whenever you hear that it takes a village, you better believe it. Parenthood is an amazing experience but it can at times be a very lonely one too. Joining local events and meeting parents and children in your local area can really boost your good spirits and even encourage your child to build social skills early on. You should be able to find a yearly catalogue on your local council’s website.
6. Look into childminders & nurseries at least 6 months before you need to go back to work
Make sure you give yourself enough time to research all possibilities before returning to work. Go to nursery open days, visit local childminders and speak to other parents to see what options are best for your family. Don’t forget that all 3&4 year olds are entitled to up to 30 childcare hours a week and you might be eligible for tax free childcare too. Read this post for more information on this topic.
7. Do it your way
It’s a wonderful time to be a new parent. Gender roles have transformed even in the last ten years, and no one blinks twice at seeing fathers looking after their babies and mothers returning to work these days.
Whether you’re entering parenthood with a partner or doing it solo, consider the type of mother or father you want to be and any gender parenting stereotypes you might want to challenge. Discuss what you liked or disliked from your own childhood with regards to the gender roles of your own parents. Discuss how you see the caregiving and breadwinning roles within the first couple of years and think about how you can make this work financially so that both parents are happy.
Thankfully there is no one-size-fits-all way of doing things anymore. Discuss what it looks like for your own unique situation, but bear in mind this can often change once the baby arrives and you may need to reconsider your working/caring plans several times over the first few years.
8. Talk about the hidden blind spot of the mental load.
This is related to the point above, but is such a biggie, and still relatively unknown that it’s worth its own point. You may already be aware of the hidden domestic load either within your relationship or with friends and family who are already parents.
For heterosexual couples there is a lot of evidence that even in the most progressive and equal of partnerships, the female takes on the lion’s share of “hidden domestic” duties. Simply put, it's being the one in charge of the never-ending list of to-do items constantly running in your head. Whether it’s booking your baby in for their inoculations or remembering what needs to get done and when, and delegating tasks to other family members, and then making sure they actually get done, it often (almost unconsciously) falls to the female.
It can be one of the major causes of resentment and arguments within new parents and it’s often difficult to fix if one of the parents doesn’t naturally think of all the things that need to be done. The best advice for this is to be aware of it prior to your baby arriving and have a plan to combat it. The plan should not just divide up the physical tasks like cooking, cleaning, and putting the kids to sleep, but also the mental tasks of planning, delegating, scheduling, remembering etc. This will hopefully over time ensure that there is no one “boss” overseeing all of the tasks.
9. Make time for your significant people
If you’re married or in a partnership, there is no doubt that you will have less time for each other once the baby arrives. Your romantic and sex lives will undoubtedly be affected by the arrival of your little one. We are not going to give you advice about the importance of “couple time” and date nights, as often this advice creates even more pressure. Better advice is simply to ensure you continue the intimacy and friendship that brought you together in the beginning.
Encourage each other and praise each other for doing a great job. Ask how the meeting or the baby group went that day. Continue to show each other love and kindness until you both have enough energy again to rekindle date nights. If you’re single remember to acknowledge the support of your friends and find time to continue to listen to them and support their lives. Nurture your significant people. They are your front-line support during the early years.
10. Be present
If you ask any parent of grown-up children you will hear this piece of advice above and beyond anything else. Be present!!! This is undoubtedly a challenge, but really do try to acknowledge and enjoy the small stuff. When your baby laughs with you, when they share their spoon with you, when they learn a new song with you, these are precious memories and your baby will not remain little forever.
Every parent of young adults will tell you how they regret worrying about a work meeting while bathing their kids. We all do it and you will too, but really try and enjoy the small stuff with your child while they’re still little and remember you are making memories every day.
We can’t help you get more sleep but we can make you sleep better by helping you plan for children’s financial future. It all starts with thinking about the goals you'd like to achieve for your child and familiarising yourself with the products that can make them a reality for your family.
All writers' opinions are their own and should not be read as personal financial advice. Individual investors should make their own decisions or seek independent advice. As with any investment, your capital is at risk and may be going up as well as down which means you may be left with less than your initial investment.