There is no such thing as finding training to raise a family before stepping into the real world. Your only option is to work hard on absorbing whatever lessons you can get as you go along. The tips for young families on this list help you identify the most important areas to focus on.
1. Draw up a detailed monthly budget
Young families can have a very hard time understanding how money works. Often, the way they spend their money comes down to what kinds of expenses turn up first.
The seat-of-the-pants approach is a dangerous one when you have children to care for. You should consider trying to gain a full understanding of your expenses by creating a detailed monthly budget that takes every possible expense into account. Then, try hard to whittle the budget down to be able to set money aside to save.
2. Build an emergency fund
Any money you save should first go towards a family emergency fund – one that is meant to help your family meet every unpleasant surprise that may turn up. Young families often have their finances stretched so tight, a single emergency occurrence is all it takes to upend everything.
In the event of a job loss or any other crisis, it is a good idea to have enough put by to get your family through 6 months with no income. An emergency fund comes before any other kind of saving.
3. Credit cards do not make an emergency fund
Treating credit cards as an emergency fund is one of the biggest mistakes that young families make. Whatever you spend on your credit cards to meet your emergency, you need to pay it off within the grace period.
If you do not, you will pay massive amounts of interest. You will soon find yourself in a new kind of crisis – unmanageable credit card debt. Credit cards are not an emergency fund. Only cash in the bank is.
4. Create a financial plan for the future
With rent, baby expenses, student loan payments and dozens of other expenses picking their paycheck clean, young families often have nothing left to save. Tight finances, though, are no reason to put off planning for your long-term goals – your child’s college, your own home and a retirement fund. Every year that you put off preparing for these goals, the harder they will seem to attain.
Once you have an emergency fund in place, you should work hard to create a financial plan that shows you how you may save for your long-term goals. If you feel too financially inexperienced for the task, you should either self-educate with a few good books or seek out a good financial advisor.
5. Nurture your relationship
In the middle of all the pressures involved in raising a family, it can be easy to forget all about the reasons for which you and your spouse got together in the first place. If your life seems to have turned into an endless routine of work and childcare, you need to stop and take stock.
According to research published in the Child Development medical journal, infants in homes with troubled marriages become prone to developmental issues. Paying attention to your relationship is one of the best ways of healing a careworn marriage.
6. Think about your mental health
Depression is common in today’s high-stress lifestyle. Mental challenges are common among new mothers recovering from stressful pregnancies, too. If you suspect that you or your spouse struggles with depression, you should have it attended to immediately.
Parents with depression often see their troubles affect their parenting style and their children’s mental health, as well. Common types of mental problems are easily treated today.
7. Do not give in to parenting fads
The world often comes up with all kinds of strange approaches to parenting – Indigo Children (that recommends spoiling your kids), Training Up (that advocates non-stop beatings), extreme breast-feeding (nursing each child seven or eight years) may all appear patently wrong to most people.
To some parents, though, they seem worth a try. Parenting techniques that have not been tried for years are never a good idea.
8. Lead by example
Parents who are distressed by their children’s poor romantic choices often wonder about the way they think. Often, though, these choices tend to be inspired the behavior seen at home. If you want your children to seek happy, healthy relationships, you should first address the unhappiness in your own life.
9. Consider limiting screen time
Being fed entertainment of any kind is far less desirable than seeking entertainment of one’s own. Help your children learn to appreciate that real fun rarely comes prepackaged.
10. Be sensitive to your child’s needs
While it is a good idea to push your children to do well in school, you should focus on creativity, learning and understanding, rather than scores, grades and achievement.
For a child who does not seem interested in their lessons, consider the possibility that the lessons are not designed well enough to inspire them. Help your child find something that they are truly interested in.