Parents are the people who have photos in their wallets instead of cash. It’s an old joke but it often still gets at least a wry smile. No matter how much dads (and mums) might like the idea of being full-time parents, the reality is that bills still need to be paid and for most people that means at least one parent working. Fortunately there are ways to make this a generally happy experience.
Assess your employer
Beer and pizza on Fridays and a company games console may seem like great perks before you have children but after you have them childcare vouchers and company discounts at useful shops may seem more appealing. It may be that your employer does actually offer family-friendly benefits and you just never noticed them in your pre-child days. If they don’t then you could try having a conversation with your manager or HR to see if there is any appetite to introduce them. If there isn’t then there may be nothing to stop you looking for another employer who is better able to accommodate your family commitments.
Get on top of your finances
The arrival of a demanding newborn can overwhelm everything else in your life, but part of keeping that little baby happy, healthy, and safe is making sure that their financial needs are met for at least the next 16 years. If they go on to further education, then you can add another 5 or 6 years on to that.
Remember that not everything needs to be new
Making savings wherever you reasonably can reduces the demands on your income which may, in turn, give you greater flexibility in terms of your employment choices. While newspapers, magazines, the radio and the TV may all carry adverts aimed at convincing you that your baby needs the brand new product they are selling, it’s worth remembering that new items come at a premium because they are new. In some cases this may be justified. For example parents may feel much more comfortable knowing that safety equipment is brand new (and possibly under guarantee). In other cases, however, second hand may be just fine, particularly in the very early days when babies are growing at an incredible rate. Likewise opting for reusable items rather than disposable ones (nappies for example) can also help to save pennies and ultimately pounds. These savings can then be channelled into other activities such as investing for your child’s future or enjoying quality time with them in the present.
Keep on networking
Young children make huge demands on time as well as on money and it can be very easy to slip into the habit of working to pay the bills and then going home to be with the new family. While watching them grow up is one of the joys of parenthood, it’s worth remembering how much value there is in human networks, both professional and social. Take time to ensure that you still stay connected both to your friends and to your colleagues and wider professional circle. Even if you can’t get out to meet them in person as much as you’d like, or even not at all in the short term, make time to get online and catch up with people in cyberspace.