Conversations for Expectant Parents - Part 2
In part 1 of this series, I discussed the importance of setting some time aside with your partner and/or future co-parent to discuss some of the topics that might be helpful to connect over and learn both how you are feeling and thinking about the topic, as well as your partner/co-parent. It is often surprising what can come out of these conversations, and it is always helpful to learn about your partner’s hopes, assumptions and fears prior to the moment you are faced with a difficult decision or conversation.
Part 2 is perhaps a little less sexy, but just as important! The topics of discussion in this post are Finances, Maternity & Paternity leave/ Family Leave and the transition to Childcare. Again, the point of these conversations is not to set anything in stone, but to begin to understand your own thoughts and feelings around these topics, and to better understand your partners’ as well. With a deeper, more clear understanding of your wishes and goals in these areas, you can begin to plan and make decisions with greater intention.
This is a tricky topic because of course, every family has different budgets and financial capabilities and constraints. Decisions around building a family and all that entails, require thoughtful financial consideration; many choices are measured by both priority and financial constraints. A few things to think about and discuss:
- What does our current family budget look like, and how do we expect it to change?
- For couples that currently keep separate accounts, and put their shared expenses into a joint account or credit card, how do you hope to divvy up these new financial responsibilities?
- Have we budgeted for our hospital stay? (despite those lucky few with fantastic insurance, you will likely be required to pay a significant hospital bill at the end of your stay.)
- It may be helpful to a) talk with your healthcare provider to understand what hospital you will be delivering at and b) connect with your insurance provider to understand a potential range (it will vary for every birth due to length of stay/ procedures done, etc.)
- Have we created a fund to help us buffer the transition between a two person home and three person home?
- If one parent decides to stay home with baby, what will that look like for our budget and how do we navigate this shift in roles? (this deserves its very own post!)
- Are there people in our lives who may have recently gone through this transition? Can we talk to them about their financial experience and things to be mindful of?
- What are our expectations of ourselves and our partners financially as we transition to becoming parents? Perhaps this taps into our family of origin model, or traditional gender roles we witnessed growing up or are actively working not to replicate.
- Do we have someone that can help us navigate our financial goals?
- Have we thought about creating a will and getting life & disability insurance?
- Are we able to begin saving for our child? Perhaps discussing a savings account and/or a 529 education plan with a financial advisor may be a goal within the first few years.
Maternity & Paternity Leave
This topic aligns really closely with finances. Many parents in the United States do not get paid leave; in fact, the US is the only developed nation in the world that does not have a national mandate for paid family leave. That being said, many companies do offer paid maternity leave for a certain amount of time, and the topic of paternal leave is becoming more open and accepted.
- Do you know if your employer offers paid maternity and paternity leave?
- For how long?
- Is there room to extend, perhaps at a partial pay rate?
- What is the culture around taking this time in your workplace? (this may be especially relevant to working fathers where parental leave has not been the norm or expectation.)
- What are the spoken and unspoken expectations for yourself and your partner?
- Ideally, how much time would you like to take off after the birth?
- How does the idea of taking time off work feel for you? Is it a relief? Is it anxiety inducing? Maybe both!
- Does it have longer term ramifications on your role/standing/potential for promotion etc.?
- If there is no paid leave, how will that impact your choices and your family’s financial position?
- Is this something you can begin to save for, in order to create a financial buffer?
Depending on where you live, the demand for child care may be very high. In Chicago (and other major cities across the country,) it is recommended to put your name on a waiting list for daycares in the early months of pregnancy in order to get a spot by the time you are ready to go back to work. Or, you may decide you want a babysitter/nanny, you may have family upon whom you can rely for childcare. Or, you may decide to stay home with your child. There is no right or wrong choice - it’s about what is best for your family, your needs, and your budget (and remember, these decisions are not set in stone; you can always alter the plan if one decision is no longer working for you and your family!)
- What are the specific professional constraints of our jobs? (for example: do you work late evenings, weekends, half days, etc.)
- How do these specific schedules align with childcare decisions?
- For example: Working late may be challenging with a daycare that closes at a specific hour. Working part time may lend towards a part-time babysitter for flexibility. Working weekends may require a special scenario, unless a co-parent can step in.
- What is our childcare budget, and how do we decide that?
- Do we have beliefs or thoughts about what would be best for our family?
- Do we have spoken or unspoken concerns or fears about this step, or a specific option?
- Do our families/ support systems/ friends have opinions that they have made known to us? How does that impact our feelings and decisions?
I am sure there are a number of important topics that can be included in this list. Think of this as a place to start, and use this as a resource and a conversation catalyst. See what doors open as you begin to explore and question some of these decisions, individually and as a couple.
You can read Part 1: here
You can read more Transition to Parenthood posts, here: