Are you a new parent intent on doing things right and focusing on your child’s best interests? If so, you’re like millions of others who want to build excellent parenting skills and are willing to put in the work and time to achieve their goals. Luckily, there are hundreds of techniques countless moms and dads have used for a long time.
What does it take to earn a top grade in Parenting 101? Besides good intentions, you’ll need real-world skills like the ability to make detailed plans, handle household finances, and find the right kinds of insurance for your family’s needs. But there are other, less apparent sides to the challenge. That’s because virtually everything you do has at least some effect, direct or indirect, on your ability to raise children. For instance, you need to pay attention to your physical health, develop a secure career, know how to keep kids safe at home and elsewhere, and take an active role in their education from day one.
If there’s one general rule about being a wise parent, don’t leave anything to chance. Never assume anyone else will do your job. Your children are your responsibility and yours alone. Don’t let teachers, neighbors, friends, relatives, or babysitters seize your exclusive power to oversee your children’s well-being. Here are some suggestions and details about how to hone those all-important skills that moms and dads use to get the job done.
Plan Like a Pro
In countless ways, effective parenting is about careful planning. That means planning for a child’s long-term education, life milestones, etc. It’s also imperative to make financial plans for the family, create an estate plan, write a will, estimate insurance needs, and more. Moms and dads who schedule weekly planning sessions can deal with unexpected events and prevent minor problems from becoming large ones.
Minimize Monthly Expenses
Managing the household budget is at the heart of a stable, peaceful home. Adults don’t often view budgeting as a parenting skill per se, but it is one in every sense of the word. Consider refinancing your education loans to chop payments down and gain access to better terms and rates to minimize monthly expenses. Ironically, many working adults know about home and vehicle refinancing but have never considered doing the same thing with their student loans. The application process is all online and takes a few minutes. Plus, you can experiment with various terms and payment levels to see what your new payment will be.
Be Insurance Smart
Few working people know how much insurance they need or what kinds of policies are suited to their unique situations. Parents need to meet with an insurance professional and discuss short-term and long-term coverage needs for families with one or more children in the home. Based on household income and other factors, determine how much life coverage is right for you and whether term or whole life policies are the better options. Ask about possible discounts you can get by purchasing home, auto, life, medical, and other forms of insurance from the same carrier. It makes sense to do an annual face-to-face insurance review with a licensed agent to make sure there are no holes in your family’s coverage.
Don’t let infrequent medical checkups or poor lifestyle habits undermine your health. The point of raising children is to be there for them, which means staying as healthy as possible. At a minimum, adults should visit a doctor for a complete physical exam once per year, see a dentist twice per year, and avoid dangerous activities. What’s dangerous? The term is ambiguous, but life insurance companies offer some guidance. You’re generally putting yourself at risk if you consume too much alcohol, smoke or chew tobacco, or engage in extreme sports like rock climbing, hang gliding, or sky diving.
Make a Detailed Will
Hire a lawyer or paralegal professional to help you write a detailed and legally binding will. Consider updating it every two years or whenever you need to change it for a specific reason. Keep a digital copy on a thumb drive, a hard paper copy in a safe deposit box, a photocopy in your home file, and a backup version in a desktop computer file.
Build a Solid Career
Spend time developing a career path to help you build a sufficient retirement nest egg. Likewise, always aim to improve your position and salary. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but parents of young children have plenty of reasons to think in terms of careers rather than jobs.