Nesting: 10 Tasks for Second Time Parents

Last Updated Jul 24, 2009 9:34 AM EDT

This is the first blog entry in the Nesting series.
When I had my first baby I felt like there were a million things my husband and I needed to accomplish before the birth. We obsessed about everything from finding a name and outfitting a nursery to drafting a will and buying life insurance. Fortunately, having a second child seems much easier. But I still have a lengthy "to do" list that I need to start tackling soon. After all, the clock is ticking and I only have nine weeks left before the little one arrives.

The first time around I had a tough time prioritizing my baby-related tasks. In my hormonal state, I somehow convinced myself that buying enough newborn diapers was as important as naming a guardian for our unborn child. I'm a lot calmer these days since I understand that it's okay if I don't accomplish everything on my list as long as I tackle the tasks that are truly necessary.

So here's my list that I think all second time parents can use:

  1. Update Estate Plan. If you haven't already drafted a will and named a guardian, now's the time to do so. In my case, all I had to do was call my lawyer and she updated all of my documents to reflect the impending arrival of a second child.
  2. Buy More Life Insurance. With a second (or third) baby you'll need more life insurance than when you just had one child. I always recommend term life over whole life for young families since you can purchase large amounts of coverage for relatively little money. As a general rule, families need five to 10 times their income in coverage.
  3. Contact Human Resources/Health Insurance Company. Chances are your employer and health insurer have stacks of paperwork you need to fill out to make sure mom gets her disability payments and the new baby is added to the family health plan in a timely fashion. (Don't forget to ask about any deadlines you need to meet.)
  4. Start Wrapping Up Work Projects. If mom is working, it's time for her to come up with a plan to wrap up her projects before the baby arrives. If she works for herself, as I do, she'll want to call her clients and tell them how much time she plans to take off. If she toils away in a more traditional office environment, she should start reminding colleagues when her maternity leave starts.
  5. Make Home Improvements. Last week, my old stove shorted the circuit breaker and nearly started a fire. It was a reminder that I should make some home improvements and step up my babyproofing efforts. While a couple of outlet covers and gates might have been sufficient the first time around, you'll want to childproof as much as possible now that you won't be able to watch either child 100 percent of the time.
  6. Notify Pediatrician. This is an easy one. Just call your pediatrician's office and tell him or her the good news. As a reminder, ask when you're supposed to bring your baby in for his or her first visit.
  7. Line up Help for Baby's Arrival. If you want your mom or mother-in-law to come and help out with the baby, now's the time to ask her. This is especially true if grandma needs to book airline reservations. It's also a good idea for dads to let their bosses know how much time they plan to take off.
  8. Buy Baby Furniture. Chances are you already have a crib. But you may need a new dresser for the nursery or a big kid bed for your older one.
  9. Borrow Baby Gear. Do an inventory of all the stuff you already have from your first child and see if there is anything you're missing. To save money, try to borrow whatever you don't have from a friend with older kids. (Just send out a group email to all of the parents you know.) If you don't find what you're looking for, check out craigslist.
  10. Select a Name. Shocked this one is ranked No. 10? I like a good name as much as the next mother, but spending hours surfing websites can get addictive and keep you from accomplishing other tasks that must get done.
Did I leave anything off the list? If so, please let me know.

For more finance related parenting advice, check out my book The Wall Street Journal. Financial Guidebook for New Parents.
On Safari Diaper Cake image by Siti Saad, CC 2.0.