Congratulations! You’re going to be parents! Once the baby comes, you’ll find that you’ll be cutting back on hobbies and other social activities. It’s important to enjoy these 9 months (or less) as much as you can and prepare for your baby! John Pfeiffer, author of DUDE, YOU’RE GOING TO BE A DAD!, shares how to maintain balance over the next few months.
Taking a Vacation
You may want to squeeze in one last vacation during this last stanza of the pregnancy. As long as you get a permission slip signed by your doctor, you should be good to go. I’m assuming you’re with me here when I say the idea is for you to go with your BMP. So don’t be totally obtuse when it comes to selecting a destination. Mardi Gras, Vegas, and a tour of wine country = not the best destinations.
Of course, it may not be the pace you’ve been used to on past vacations. Keeping a flexible, lighter-than-usual schedule will help you handle whatever’s going on with her ever changing body. It’s a change for both of you, and a precursor to the not-being-able-to-get-away-on-a-moment’s-notice type of lifestyle that’s headed your way. Depending on how far out you’re planning, you may want to buy the much maligned travel insurance. Then if she gets so sick you can’t go, you won’t be fuming over the lost funds.
Exploring Paternity Leave
Unlike most civilized nations and third-world countries, Americans have no paid leave policy when it comes to having a baby. While some companies have policies in place to allow mothers a civilized period of time to welcome their child into the world, dads have no such luck. So save your vacation days, and check with your employer’s human resources department to see whether you have any chance to take an extended unpaid leave (if you can afford to take it).
Paternity leave is quite a nice little thing. You’re indirectly asking your employer to give you paid time off to be with your new baby. In the executive office, knowing they have to pay you for some period of time, even though you’re not ill and can still perform your duties, is probably as popular as poop sandwiches, underwater stock options, and male secretaries.
Needless to say, most companies don’t have overly extravagant policies. They may run from eight to twelve weeks on average, and often you’ll receive some portion of your compensation, but give up any bonuses or special pay you may have received. Do your homework and see what you should expect.
Making Sense out of Every Dollar
Man, these babies can be expensive! But this is not the time to feed your inner CEO and look at your child-to-be with an eye on its ROI. Even so, you do have to plan for the baby’s expenses, just like you’ve planned everything else. Disposable diapers alone cost about $100 a month. Now, you need to feed and clothe this baby, because child-labor laws prevent you from sending babies out into the workforce for another few years.
Finding a Pediatrician
You’ll want to choose your pediatrician before you bring your child home. You’ll find out that babies need to go to the doctor often—even more so if they’re going to be in group child care. Their immune systems are limited, and they can catch just about any germ that’s out there. Before this happens, take the time to select a doctor for your new baby. (Guess what? We get another fun list!) Here are a few of the criteria you can consider:
1. Does the doctor take your insurance? Or, if you have an HMO or PPO, is the doctor in your network? Incompatible insurance is obviously a deal-breaker in my mind. Bringing a baby to the doctor every couple of weeks is very expensive, and that’s what insurance is for. This is almost like when you were looking for a college; you started with, “Can I get in?”
2. Meet the pediatrician ahead of time. Good pediatricians set aside time to meet with parents-to-be. Many times the personality of the caregiver is the deal-maker or deal-breaker—how she acts, the way she handles your toughest questions—these are all intangibles that you have to sit through an appointment to really evaluate.
Finding a Day Care
It’s common for both parents to work. So unless one of you is able to perform masterfully at your job while caring for a child at the same time, you’ll need to make arrangements for your baby’s care while you two parents earn a few dollars.
Many dads are not quite in touch with the reality that you need to do this well ahead of time. All of the quality day-care providers—and even some of the average day-care providers—in your area may have waiting lists. So you need to get out there and scout these places out. If you find one that meets or exceeds all of your requirements, you’ll find yourself doing everything within reason to secure your child’s spot at that location. You may even find yourself slipping the director of the facility a C-note to help things along. Oh, come on, just kidding (as far as you know).
Yoga isn’t just for mom and dad! Connect with your child through yoga.