Welcoming a child into your home is a life-changing decision. It offers joys and fulfillment you'll find nowhere else. But parenthood also entails a host of new commitments on your part, since your little one will depend on you to provide safe, warm, supportive surroundings in which she can grow. In this post, we'll cover the things you must do to discharge your responsibilities. We'll tailor these tips to the special needs and concerns of disabled parents.
Preparing for Money Matters
Kids are expensive. The average cost of raising a child to age 18, when adjusted for inflation, is $304,480, according to the Huffington Post. This is a serious sum, but it's within the reach of most middle income households if you employ diligent and careful planning. Here are some helpful guidelines:
- Begin by totaling your assets. Include all sources of income as well as savings accounts, home equity, life insurance cash values, etc.
- Now add up your liabilities, including mortgage, car payment, credit card bills, and so on. You want to know how much these expenses run per month as well as how much it would cost to pay them off in full.
- Estimate variable expenses such as food, gas, clothing, entertainment, etc. We call these "variable" because you can usually reduce these figures to some degree. For example, your food costs may include eating out three to four times a week. You can slash these charges by preparing meals at home.
You should now have a good idea of where you're at money-wise. Use this as a reference point when factoring in the costs of child rearing. The USDA provides a handy online calculator to help you. Taking these steps now will save you from nasty surprises later.
Preparing Your Home
Kids are incurably curious and bursting at the seams with energy. Your job as a parent is to help them express these qualities in healthy, positive ways while safeguarding against potential hazards. To babyproof your home, start by doing a room-by-room inspection with an eye toward potential problems like these:
- Uncovered electrical outlets.
- Lack of a home fire extinguisher (These are especially important around stoves and fireplaces.)
- Unsecured furnishings, electronics, and appliances. Adding braces and other anti-tip features to these products is important for your child's safety.
- Cabinets that need locks or other anti-tampering mechanisms.
- Knobs that remain attached to the stove when unused.
- Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with dead batteries.
You may need to balance some of these changes against accommodations for your or your partner's disability. The website www.disabledparenting.com has plenty of helpful information on this and related topics.
Preparing Your Heart and Mind
You'll find lots of information online or at your local library about basic parenting skills. You can also find similar resources geared toward parents with intellectual or physical challenges. Here are some tips that apply to parenting in general:
- Read with your child if possible. The type of book is less important than the act itself. Reading instills a love of learning, which can serve as a foundation for future success.
- Teach her problem solving skills. Fixing all of her problems for her, while often well-intentioned, can hamper her development into independent adulthood.
- Give her boundaries. Children need structure and rules if they're to feel safe and secure.
- At the same time, reward her for showing responsibility and initiative. Finding a balance between discipline and creative freedom is important for her emotional and academic development.
Parenting is both life's greatest privilege and its most solemn responsibility. Use the tips in this post to prepare yourself for the role you'll soon fill. One day you'll look back on your child rearing years as the best time of your life.