In the chaos of baby showers, nursery preparation, and last minute home DIY projects, there are a few important items that can be overlooked in preparing for a baby. Although not critical to ensure the well being of your baby, you will certainly thank yourself later for your advanced planning. Let's face it, anything you can do before you bring baby home is a major win.
Preparing for your hospital bill. By now you probably know that your hospital bill isn't going to be the highlight of bringing home your bundle of joy. No matter how hefty your bill, you generally have options that will save you money and stress in the long run. Many hospitals provide discounts for prepaying or paying your hospital bill within a specified time frame. This can result in significant savings if you can front the bill. If you can't prepay, many hospitals also allow you to set up payment plans. Paying monthly instead of all at once is an easier pill to swallow and if interest free, it's a win-win. Be sure to call your hospital's billing department ahead of the due date to understand your options and save some money and stress when you come home.
Set up a college fund. This one is straight forward. College is expensive and you're going to need all the time you can get to save. Starting this savings as soon as possible will prevent the hassle and delay when you're busy with a baby.
Set expectations for visitors. As a dad, it's easy to visualize all of your family coming over to meet your new baby on the day you leave the hospital. This is because you are not the one having a baby. Mom on the other hand, may not want Great Aunt Betty meeting you in the driveway as you pull in. You have months in advance to make sure you set visiting expectations for family to ensure that mom is getting enough rest and that baby isn't exposed to many people and risk getting sick. Everyone will be excited but prioritizing mom's recovery and baby's health will be well worth it.
Have meals ready. As visitors stop by, so do the dinners. For the first few weeks as you have visitors, there will be no shortage of food in the house. But, as soon as the visitors slow, you will be on your own for meals. Meal prepping or setting up a meal delivery service in advance will take away the stress of planning dinners. Take advantage of free meal delivery trials to start and it if it works out, keep it going.
Understand your role. This one is going to sound harsh but we all need to hear it. When bringing home a newborn, especially the first few weeks, dads are the domestiques in cycling, the caddy in golf, or the catcher in baseball. Dads are crucial but there is no glory. The reason for this is simple: newborns have a few very basic needs that mom can provide better than anyone else. Don't take it personally but your newborn will almost always prefer mom and building that connection with dad takes time. Do everything you can to support mom and baby when you get home and know that this connection does not take long to form with dad. Enjoy this challenging role, it's short lived and does get easier.
Take care of yourself. Before you know it you will be eating over the sink and changing diapers in your spare time. Get all of your appointments in, eat well, exercise, and take time for yourself. Creating the habits now will help you to continue them when baby arrives and you'll be glad your oil doesn't need to be changed for another 3,000 miles.
Now I know all of this sounds a little dramatic. Having a baby doesn't always feel like going into battle but on the days it does, you will thank yourself for all of the items you completed in advance.